The Business of Law

 In Redefining a Successful Lawyer

Whether you are a sole practitioner, a partner or shareholder, or you work for a law firm, there is a lot that goes into running a successful business. While there is always a bottom line to be met, there is more than one bottom line.

The phrase “the bottom line” typically it refers to the cost of running a business versus how much money is being generated. Anyone who ignores this bottom line runs the risk of being out of business.

But there is another bottom line to consider, how you serve the people who work for and with you. We tend to think of the purpose of our business to serve our clients, and all the decisions that we make are about serving that end goal. When evaluating an employee we look at timeliness, how well they communicate with the clients, are they accurate in the work they do- it’s a long list.

But the deeper bottom line is about me creating an environment that goes beyond making sure an employee has what they need to succeed in their job. This other bottom line for me is making sure that the people I work with know they are valuable in and of themselves. I spend time thinking about how I want them to feel about where they work beyond their paycheck and perks.

Work can serve both the necessity of surviving – paying the bills- and our desire to develop and evolve in our personal lives. The business of law allows each of us an amazing opportunity every day to help those we work with achieve their deeper bottom line, just as we can with our own.

These two bottom lines are in complement not in competition. While it is not our job to stick our noses into others personal and spiritual evolution, it is our job to at least not get in the way and at best to create an environment at work that is supportive of it.

The questions I ask myself are how do I evaluate myself with this other bottom line and how do continue to grow and evolve in serving the people I work with?


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  • Jim Burnett

    Having worked for a company where the whole (only) focus was the bottom line, your insight and wisdom is appreciated.

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