CBA Report JulyAugust

O ne of the challenging aspects of practicing law is managing expectations that I have of myself and others. I personally have expectations of the amount of work I can complete and how much those working with and for me can complete. A lot of our time as lawyers is spent managing both internal and external pressures. Clients come to us with the expectation that we will win or solve their problem. There are expectations everywhere we look. Managing expectations is part of the daily life of a lawyer. For me, the hardest expectations to manage are the ones I place upon myself. I am a chronic over estimator. I estimate I can get dozens of things done in a week or day and never fail to disappoint myself. Hence, I spent many years setting myself up for failure because every day I would fall short of my expectations. Every day brought on a new challenge or problem that gets in the way of all those things I expected to complete. Along the way, I have learned a few valuable lessons that help me be more realistic. 1. ALL I CAN DO IS MY BEST. There are many things in the practice of law that you cannot control. But one thing you can do is give your best. On days when accomplishing what I expected to do is impossible, I pause and ask myself if I am doing my best today. The answer is yes. Your best should be your daily goal. Somedays your best is super productivity. Some days your best is just showing up at the office and managing an ever-growing list of emergencies. In fact, your best is all you can give. 2. OTHERS ARE DOING THEIR BEST TOO. The people you deal with daily are doing their best too. Other lawyers have their role to play in cases. They can get in the way of our ability to meet expectations yet, they are giving their best to their clients’ case. Sometimes that best is not nice or kind but it’s still their job. We all have a job to do and we all work very hard to meet the expectations placed upon us. Clients are doing their best to cope with the situation they are in, and recognizing that struggle can help you manage their expectations. 3. YOU LEARN WHEN YOU LOSE. In court, there are winners and there are losers. Your high moments come when you win. But losing is where the learning is. Losing is not some- thing I enjoy, but when it happens, I try to find the lessons in the loss. This does not mean you allocate blame but it does mean you inventory the things you did. Only one party can win and that can’t always be you. Ultimately, you must assess whether you did everything you could do in a situation. Learn win you lose and you will assure more victories. Let go of outcome and focus on giving your all. 4. THE WORK WILL BE THERE TOMORROW. The work of a lawyer is rarely ever done. I have a practice that benefits from having many clients who need my expertise on an ongoing basis. Yet, eventually I have to turn off the office lights. We all need to establish and enforce boundaries when it comes to our clients. I do this by restricting my client’s access to my cell phone. Only a few clients have access to my cell phone. In general, I do not give that number out to clients. I do not use text messaging with clients either. Clients have expectations about access to you which can be unhealthy for you. Likewise, I tell clients that I answer emails within 24 hours so they don’t expect an immediate response to an inquiry. You have a life and that life should not be 100 percent lawyer 100 percent of the time. 5. I AM NO GOOD TO MY CLIENTS, MYSELF OR MY FAMILY IF I AM NOT TAKING CARE OF MYSELF. I have a gym schedule that I faithfully keep. I have developed good sleep hygiene and I eat healthy, nutritious food. I do everything I can to take care of me. Self-care is not selfish and it is necessary to function at your best. This is one expectation you should strive for - be kind to and take good care of yourself. 6. CLIENT EXPECTATIONS ARE NOT MANDATES. Every client expects you to win their case. Every client thinks they are on the right side of the conflict. Reality and a client’s ideas of what should happen are never in sync. I find it best to ask the client what they want in my initial meeting with them. The response will make it apparent whether the client has an expectation that cannot be met by me or the law. Knowing client expectations up front gives you the opportunity to educate your client about what the legal system can do for them. Estab- lishing what the financial and legal reality of a situation is can help you immensely as you move forward. Expectations keep us motivated. Expectations, that are real- istic, can help us achieve goals. Inevitably, however, we have expectations of ourselves and often others expect things that just cannot be met. Setting realistic expectations with ourselves and our clients is necessary to have a less stressful practice. Hochscheid is an attorney with Hochscheid & Associates LLC, chair of the CBA’s Health &Well-Being Committee and a member of the CBA’s Board of Trustees. Managing Expectations By Tabitha M. Hochscheid July/August 2018 CBA REPORT l 15 Balanced Living