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Since the dawn of the legal services industries, lawyers have had to deal with that flippant attitude of clients and managers instructing us to “just make it happen.” And sometimes, that “it” is possible and realistic; sometimes it’s a pipedream. In the end, that attitude can be both damaging for the profession and the professional.
As Patrick Krill explains, that phrase, and others like it, “are signaling that you don’t matter all that much.” The “make it happen” mentality often ignores the fact that attorneys are not “machines” nor “commodities” that can be used and replaced if they fail. Weekends get destroyed, healthy routines are dashed, and stress can really take over, when attorneys are not prepared to handle “just make it happen.”
Below you can get a few tips on how to just do it (with all apologies to Nike).
Boundaries Are Important
As a provider of legal services, the expectation from clients and bosses is that you’ll be able to obtain the desired result, however, how those results are obtained requires your independent, sound judgment. Being rushed, or having unreasonable expectations thrust upon you may be a mainstay of the legal profession, but so is exercising due diligence, which takes time. Being rushed doesn’t help when it comes to exercising independent thought and good judgment.
As Krill suggests, it is incumbent on lawyers to set their own boundaries and make sure those are clearly communicated to both managers and clients. This doesn’t mean emphatically stating that you will not ever work weekends, but it does require learning to say “no,” especially when clients have unreasonable expectations.
Make How 'It Happens' Known
While a client or boss might state that they don’t care how "it" happens, you certainly should, because it’s your reputation on the line. And while they may not care, it’s your job to keep them informed and make sure they are guiding and approving your strategy, plan, and/or actions. An once of prevention...
Often, associates won’t be able to push back against bosses demanding that work just gets done. In these situations, reaching out for help from colleagues may be appropriate. Just be careful that you are being clear that you need help with the workload, and not the boss assigning the workload. And it never hurts to let those coming to your aid know they can expect a little quid pro quo from you if they are ever in the same situation. Which, if you share a boss, is a good bet.