Billing Hours

A post on Law360, on October 5 by Emma Cueto, based upon a report by the practice management software Clio, estimates that only about a third of the time attorneys spend at the office translates to billable hours.

The report notes that attorneys already work outside of normal business hours to reach billable hour goals. It suggests that more delegation of administration tasks and more face time with clients.

Emma Cueto, Billable Hours Only 30% of Attys’ Day, Report Says, Law306 (Oct 2018). (View Article)

Mediators Beyond Borders International Board Meeting & Retreat

As an incorporator with Ken Cloke and a founding member and Sec. Treasurer of MBBI from 2006 to 2009, Robert Creo is pleased and proud to see the growth of MBBI and that the implementation of its humanitarian mission continues with vigor.

Robert and twenty-four MBBI members (including past and current team/project leaders, board members and others) met in Pittsburgh for a day and a half. Through a variety of small and large group activities, they prioritized the most critical issues:
– Develop funding
– Current leadership & Provide staff support
– Quality products/What is our niche?

Happiness Leads to Success?

Once upon a time, (circa 1973-74), I spent two summers working at the Homestead Works of United States Steel as a laborer and helper. Although we were only temporary help, we were hired on the same as permanent workers with the same schedules, pay, benefits, and responsibilities. My initial attitude was to put in my time there mindlessly and mentally separate it as only “working” which is distinct from “living life.” Living involved meaning, success, or fun, while working was wasted or dead time.
By the end of a few weeks as a steelworker, I had learned so much from my co-workers. Their work was more than a job. I can now frame it as an identity involving pride of craftsmanship, of being the bread-winner for a family, and as contributing for the benefit of the community and the common good. A respected lead-person, Cyclone, explained it to me this way: “What we do matters because our steel is the foundation of bridges, battleships, skyscrapers, automobiles, and manufacturing plants. None of this happens without us at the front end.” One of my take-aways is that how much of what we do mattering is dependent on our attitude. For a young man, part of me was forged alongside the steel amidst the heat, noise, and grit of the Homestead Works of United States Steel.

In over 40 years as a lawyer, I relied upon the lessons learned about the importance of making your best efforts at your own job or task-at-hand. I lament the fact that so many lawyers are unhappy in their chosen profession or feel trapped by meaningless work. My goal is to help improve the daily lot of lawyers so we can all “whistle while we work.” To me that is a good definition of success.

The past 3 years I have researched and studied the relationship between happiness and success while at work. There is an overwhelming body of evidence that there is more than a correlation, but a cause-effect cycle with some contending that the happiness comes first. See the summary of the research study below.

Rather than attempting to answer the age-old riddle of what came first, the chicken or the egg, energy is best spent on promoting practices and habits which enhance job satisfaction and meaningful work. Daily tasks, especially for professionals like lawyers, are going to be diverse and vary in the level of challenge to cognitive and problem solving abilities. Ultimately, there is a larger goal or objective being advanced and the smaller, and often routine or boring functions, are necessary links in the chain. One approach is to treat these in a stoical way . . . complete the chore without fuss. This was a lesson I learned not in law school, but from the steelworkers of Western Pennsylvania.

The Study

The follow contains excerpts from S. Lyubomirsky, L. King & E. Diener, The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? 131 Psychological Bulletin 803-855 (2005). (View Study)

There is a strong relationship between success and happiness. But the question is which comes first, happiness or success?

While psychological research tends to talk about success leading to happiness, there is also plenty of evidence showing that happiness can also lead to success. Some evidence comes from experimental studies that induce participants into positive and negative moods and then compare their behaviors in certain situations.

This correlation is important because many times people will focus on success thinking that it will lead to happiness and while trying to become successful, they ignore their happiness in the moment. This evidence, shows that people should pursue success but not to the exclusion of happiness.


Never Stop Learning!

There are some basic lessons learned as children that guide us as adults.  Thanks to Melaine Shannon Rothey for reminding us of the wisdom contained in Dr. Seuss.    For the professional development of Millennials, I heartily recommend the sage advice to Never Stop Learning!

The following contains excerpts from Melaine Shannon Rothey, Parting thoughts: Seek balance, don’t fear change, 19 ACBA Lawyers Journal, No. 12,  3 (Jun 9, 2017).

Remember the five lessons from Dr. Seuss:
BE YOURSELF – Who else do you want to be?
MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE – Isn’t that the reason most of us went to law school?
NEVER STOP LEARNING –Knowledge for the sake of knowledge.
IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE – Do I really have to continue to repeat the necessity of work/life balance?
BE POSITIVE – We are surrounded by negativity all day long.

Melaine notes that there are four generations of lawyers practicing today – the Silent Generation (sometimes called Traditionalists), the Baby Boomers, the Gen X-ers and the Millennials. Each of these generations has its positives and its negatives. We can learn from both aspects. We do not always have to agree with opposing counsel or with the judge; however, we must disagree in a civil and respectful manner, whether in open court or in a pleading or in correspondence. Bad attitudes and nastygrams have no place in our profession.

Work/life balance –the line between work and home has become seriously blurred. We have to figure out a way to “check out” of the office. We have to take some serious, uninterrupted time for ourselves and our families. I know that you find this hard to believe, but the office will survive without you.

Change –change is not a bad thing. Just because we “always did it this way” does not mean that we should not try a new way to do things. At the very least, those of us that have been doing it the same way for many years should listen and entertain a new option or procedure.

Mentoring –we must mentor each other. To the Silent Generation and the Boomers, be patient with the young-uns. They really do want to learn. They will catch on and will probably improve upon the technique. Gen-Xers and Millennials, be patient with us. We are not trying to make you crazy. We are just resistant to change.