Today I want to talk about the disaster that can sometimes happen despite our best intentions and our best efforts. And that’s when we fall flat on our faces.
I’ve been a divorce lawyer for more than 20 years and I’ve fallen flat on my face - painfully - many times. My whole goal with this website is to help my colleagues (you!) avoid doing that. So how do we avoid falling on our face as a divorce lawyer? I’ve got a three-step system.
Step 1 - Systematize Your Entire Law Practice:
First, systematize everything! Have checklists for everything. For example, have checklist for your court application and make someone else check it for you. This way you won’t end up in front of the judge without your cross-exam notes, like I did once in the past. We even have scripts at my firm. This helps to reduce stress and reduces the chance of failure.
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Step 2 - Engage in the Profound Power of a Forgiveness Practice:
Second, have a Forgiveness Practice. It’s the most powerful thing I’ve done. I first did it for my life, but then I realized is has really informed my work. Have some kind of a practice, whether it be a meditation or a forgiveness practice or a spiritual path. It’s up to you and what resonates for you. Having a practice of sorts makes you a way more powerful advocate.
Step 3 - Do More Than Expected of a Divorce Lawyer:
Third, move beyond what a lawyer is expected to do. Some lawyers think “I’m a lawyer, and so I’m just going to keep my job in a little box over here, but when it comes to being involved with my clients, I want to remain objective.” Here’s the thing: I don’t think that a divorce lawyer can be objective. I want to get in there, and open my heart to what my clients' concerns are. I actually want to have compassion for the other side, not only because it helps me understand where they’re coming from, but it allows me to be a better advocate for my client. And guess what? It also makes my life more pleasant, and the days I go to work more rewarding. My point here is to find a way that going beyond resonates for you.
Flat On Our Faces
So, despite my systems and despite my practices, there are days when things get really tough. I'm talking about one particularly crappy day in court. I was standing there in court and the judge really dressed me down. And it was SO frustrating. I didn’t think it was fair. I walked out of there thinking “Oh my gosh - I’m almost 50 years old and people are still talking to me like this?!” Some days are failures. Today, as I record this in 2018, I’m going through something significant that is very stressful and it represents a failure. It reminds me that no matter how hard I’ve worked at systematizing my practice and doing things right, sometimes we just fail.
Sometimes when things fail, it’s a case, and sometimes it’s a whole avenue of your life. And so I go back to Seth Godin, who is a business guru that I have a profound amount of respect for, and he has written lots of business books about being in service to others, and creating things with heart. One of my favorite quotes of his is “You hear about all of my successful ventures, but you don’t hear about my failures because they’ve failed!”
So what do we do when we fail? We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move forward putting one foot in front of the other. I know life is a journey, and life is long, but the point is that we’ll all get there in the end. Getting there is about how we live our lives in service to others, and doing the best that we can.
Written by Val Hemminger, after falling flat on her face.
Val has created this website to share with her colleagues. She is not suggesting, by any means, that she is the best divorce lawyer out there. She is, however, suggesting that she is the best divorce lawyer that she herself can be. Feel free to share anything you find useful.