By at least one objective measure, I’m a success at building a book of business. My annual originations since 2008 have been in excess of $1 million, when the typical lawyer stands at $200,000 or $300,000.
As Founder and Managing Partner of The Lynch Law Group, it’s in my best interest to share the secrets of my success with my team. As such, we devote an hour and a half every other week at The Lynch Law Group to a practice development meeting. Over the years of my legal career, I have devoted a great deal of thought to uncovering and articulating the principles and behaviors that generate and sustain an above-average book of business.
When I reflect on the broad scope of my 25+-year career as a lawyer, two events come to mind. The first event occurred when I was 15 years old, just emerging as an adult. The other event is so fresh it still stings. These two events might serve as bookends, pulling back the curtain on my approach to life and lawyering. Each of the events involves both attitude and action.
At age 15, I was a counselor at Boy Scout Camp. A group of us was given two tasks: moving tables and cleaning the latrines. Like typical teenagers, the boys around me moaned and whined. The tables were heavy, and the latrines stunk. The day was hot, and we were sweaty. With rebellious adolescence, the boys complained and articulated their dissatisfaction with the camp director and other authority figures of the camp.
I didn’t understand or join the whining. The work had to be done, so I thought we should make it fun. To that end, I started horsing around, amping things up, and created a challenge. How fast could we move the tables? Could we hold our breath the entire time we cleaned any given toilet—and still do a good job? Doing this influenced everyone’s attitudes by creating a positive atmosphere.
The challenge energized the group as we did our work, and we had a lot of fun with each other. We sang. We joked. We laughed. The tough job got done, and we finished with satisfaction, fresh bonds, and a positive attitude.
Fast forward to 2014. I was 40+ years old and had been running a successful practice for 13 years. I had what I thought was a solid legal team in place. I believed that working and living intentionally had led to success, and I often articulated principles of success to my team members and my children.
Things were going so well that my wife and I were trying to figure out how to take our four children on a year-long trip. One day in August, when I came to the office after being away for a long weekend, I got the shock of a lifetime.