In my first couple years of practice, I recall hearing a couple of times, "oh, you're the female lawyer." And I was thinking, "wow, gee, good guess." It was frustrating to be seen as a novelty, even if very slightly, and even if the person saying it was totally unconscious that they were under some kind of 1950s patriarchal spell.
Suppose you’re a woman lawyer too. Suppose you are younger than your client. Or maybe, you’re the same approximate age or older than your client, but your client is totally unaccustomed to interacting with women in leadership or authority roles, so he’s not quite sure what to make of you.
Either way, your client is bugging out about their case, and this is challenging for you, to put it politely.
Maybe he is showing up in your office every day without an appointment, sitting in the waiting room with a petulant scowl that makes you consider coming in through the back door and hiding behind the Xerox machine. Maybe she calls every day to whine, and you feel like you’re Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” having the same conversation again and again. Maybe his mother calls you to complain that the case isn’t resolved yet. Oooh, that’s the GOAT.
You’re the one with the schooling, and possibly also the years of experience, and the know-how to analyze her situation, or explain in plain English what he is facing. But you feel ill-equipped to manage your client’s reactivity, and find it difficult to work around your client’s emotional state to convey important information to them and do your job.
Litigation of any kind is a highly charged emotional experience, especially the longer it goes on. It is, basically, varsity squad adulting. It is a lot for anybody, especially someone who does not have all-star emotional maturity, executive functioning, a solid support system and three whole foods meals per day. “Common” sense is actually rare, because it seems to be unavailable in the average day in the life of so many. Even among so-called middle-class Americans, we find a lot of economic anxiety, poor nutrition, family pain out a Steinbeck novel, and low-grade modern-life-type trauma that just makes it just damn hard to have a legal problem on top of everything else that’s going on.
Each person has inherent worthiness, even if they’re being a pain in the ass. (I know you know this already. But it is worth reminding ourselves.)
Litigation can bring out some of the most immature thoughts and feelings out of typically level-headed, responsible adults.
So, in this post I’ll be talking about people who do not qualify as disabled, and just have “garden variety” trauma and drama that doesn’t warrant an official diagnosis. We are assuming here that you have determined that they are not suffering from a diminished capacity, asking you to help them commit crimes or lie, or otherwise so horribly interfering with the representation that you have grounds to withdraw. (That is a separate subject; refer to Washington State -- or if you're not in WA, your state's -- Rules of Professional Conduct 1.14, Client with Diminished Capacity, and 1.16, Withdrawing or Terminating Representation.) They’re just…being human, freaking out, and you’re freaking out with them.
So, how to stop freaking out with them? How can you “hold space” for your client in a way that you will fulfill your ethical obligation to represent them competently and communicate? How can you do this without your client feeling so judged or shamed that they shut down and stop listening to you at the worst possible time? How can you touch the core of your client, the place where their higher wisdom is receptive to your learned advice?
First let’s review a few Rules of Professional Conduct. I cite to Washington State’s. If you practice somewhere else, of course, check your own state's rules. I won’t copy and paste all the rules here; if you want to read the full version of cited rules, and the rest of the rules, they're all right here: Washington's RPCs.
Let's start with 1.1, Competence. In addition to the basics -- study up before you take a client's life/freedom/future into your hands -- there's another benefit. When we know what we are doing, we project authority and confidence in our vibe. People can feel it, sense it, and almost smell it. Remember how you had so much memorized for the bar exam? Remember the time you over-prepared for a motion hearing and the words just flowed out of your mouth? Maybe that was as recent as this morning! A client who might doubt you because of your age, inexperience, or appearance will feel it if you know your subject matter, If you also use *good posture [*Amazon affiliate link] and practice empowering body language -- even if it is in the privacy of your apartment when you are getting ready in the morning -- it will carry through your day.
Let's also discuss RPC 1.2, Scope of Representation and Allocation of Authority between Client and Lawyer. Your job is to give your client professional advice that enables them to make the best decision for themselves. Sometimes people who have legal troubles have been in a reactive, passive orientation to their own lives. These are the folks who will say, "this is all up to you," the first time you convey a settlement offer. You know to gently, but firmly, tell them that you absolutely cannot make that decision for them, and that all you can do is give them advice, AND you don't have a crystal ball or a time machine. But sometimes they still want to be wishy-washy. Other clients still haven't let go of their anger at their situation, and when you get the first settlement offer, they will rant and rave and want to drop out of negotiations, even if that isn't a good idea. You are ethically obligated to abide by their wishes, and at the same time, if you can have a good relationship with this client, they may reach the best decision for themselves. Your client hired you to be the leader, to not have to "do their own brain surgery." How to be this leader? Communication.
This is where we get to RPC 1.4, Communication. This rule covers a lot, but for purposes of this post, we'll focus on the part that says the lawyer shall "explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation." The comments to RPC 1.4 flesh this out a little, but doesn't tell us precisely how to do this in the soup of stressful and uncomfortable emotions.
After you've worked on yourself (competence, good posture, confident body language) now it is time to work on holding space for your client. Holding space means you listen without judging your client, and without getting worked up too. Role Reversal is a great first step.
Role Reversal is a technique for building deep understanding and compassion for your client so that you can hold space for him.
Role Reversal is a technique borrowed from Psychodrama, a therapeutic method that uses reenactment and story. Of course, you do this exercise with co-counsel so that you don't violate client confidentiality. First you will play your client, and your co-counsel will simply listen. Stand face to face, or sit in two chairs facing each other. Your co-counsel will listen, silently, and isn't allowed to butt in until you're done. Then switch places. Your co-counsel is now playing your client. They will repeat back as much as they can remember from what you said, and now your job is to simply listen. If you find yourself wanting to ask a question of your "client," you have to switch places again and answer it yourself.
You will learn a lot this way about your own attitudes, judgments, thoughts and feelings that subtly interfere with explaining things in a way your client will hear them. The next time you interact with your client, you will sense that any barriers have softened.
The Brooke Castillo Self-Coaching Model is another technique for understanding where your own thoughts and feelings may be interfering with good client communication. You have to manage yourself before you can be an effective leader with your clients. It's a daily process.
Suppose your client reacted negatively to a settlement offer. You take what your client did or said, described as neutrally as possible, and call that the circumstance. What are YOU thinking about what they said or did? That is your thought. What do you feel when you think that thought? There's the rub. Maybe it's anger, frustration, worry, fear, disgust, you name it. Then there is something you are doing or not doing because of that emotion you are having: Are you a little snippy in the email response you fire off? Looking at social media instead of working on the brief? Are you sending desperate-sounding emails to opposing counsel who is ignoring you? Are you hiding behind the Xerox machine? Then, what is the current (or likely future) result of this kind of behavior on your end?
Once you work all that out, you might feel better immediately. Or, you might not. Either way, it's ok. If you're really stuck, and keep obsessing about what's going wrong and how it's impossible to please everyone, is to add the tag "and that's ok," or "I'm figuring this out" to whatever is going on in your brain.
For example, "my client needs to be more patient, and that's ok." Or, "my client is not going to like this offer, and I'm figuring out how to break the news to him." Just these slight modifiers will trick your brain into seeing your own solutions instead of thinking all hope is lost.
When you must convey bad news or present complex choices to your client, it will go over best if you do your OWN emotional management first -- about the client, the situation, and yourself. Being able to feel and work through all the ups and downs of litigation for yourself demonstrates palpable confidence to your client, and makes you the warm human leader in the relationship that your client needs.
If you'd like to work more in depth on rising to the leader you are meant to be, talk to me about private coaching!
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Please read Part One of this series.
In Part One, we explored the letdown many of us very capable, intelligent women feel when we suddenly are not succeeding at the level we think we should be in the law profession, despite earnestly trying just as hard at it as we did in school (or dance, or sports, or life).
As Patterson Hood of the Drive-by Truckers sings, "nobody told me it'd be easy / or for that matter be so hard."
So here's a wide-ranging assortment of Flower Essences that address issues of money, abundance, scarcity and self-belief.
Trillium. Trilliums generally address the sense that something is missing (even if you intellectually know that it isn't). This blog post features a picture of a beautiful red trillium. My blog itself has a photo of a white trillium. This is going to be significant as you read further. Now, the red trilliums grow in California; what I've seen firsthand "in the wild" from hiking in western Washington State are the white trilliums.
White Trillium is a Columbia Gorge Flower Essence that corresponds more to the crown chakra and feminine consciousness, and the abundance that is available to us everywhere just with a shift in emotion or mindset. What is really fascinating to me is that the White Trilliums in my area turn a luscious orchid-maroon color as the blossom ages. See here:
Instead of fading, it intensifies. It is like it is bringing something from the imagination or spirit or unseen (the airy white color) into life and form (the rich maroon color). This flower teaches you that you can do that too. You can bring your imaginings into form, and stop feeling completely caught up in "first world problems." (Which is a big part of what I intend to do with this blog.)
Now let's talk about the red ones, which are more specific to money issues. FES' Trillium Flower Essence is the red variety. It addresses root chakra issues of survival. It is for the person who thinks at times they're barely making it, but really has more abundance than they allow themselves to feel. The person needing red trillium may be pretty aware that they "should" feel more abundant than they do, and know that they are pretty well off compared to many people on the planet, but they just can't shake the sense of scarcity.
Here's a scenario: let's say you are stressed about a huge tax bill, and not sure when this or that case is going to settle, and you're at the checkout at some store, and they ask you, "do you want to buy a candy bar for the troops today?" And in your mind are all these things like, "I should buy a candy bar for the troops. God, I'm such a jerk if I don't. But I have this huge tax bill. Should I? Shouldn't I?" And then maybe you buy one for the troops and then buy another one for yourself and feel upset that the candy bars are 50 cents more at this store than it is at the other store you were just at. (Mind chatter. Mind chatter.)
WHOA. Slow your roll...you have clean water, a roof over your head, and your tax bill is kind of a quality problem, isn't it?
Anyway, the Red Trillium is excellent for helping us balance our internal struggle with our first-world problems. They are legitimate soul problems, so don't kick yourself. Just consider this essence to help you do the spiritual and emotional work of consciously choosing giving.
Star Thistle. Star Thistle Flower Essence also addresses a sense of lack that is not a helpful view of the world, kind of like Trillium. Often the person needing Star Thistle really is in more of a state of actual financial stress than the Trillium person. The Star Thistle person will insist, "my situation really IS that bad" as a reason for staying "prickly" and not able to be fluid with material resources in a way that will get them flowing again. The Star Thistle person struggles with the idea that sometimes it can be wiser to spend money to make money. They may not buy the shoes that will last 5 years, even if buying a new cheap pair every 2 years is more expensive long term.
I have taken this essence a few times during my life, and I'll tell you that it just really helps me relax and trust myself, trust in my decisions, and be frugal when that's appropriate, without a major freak-out or guilt trip against myself. Star Thistle helps one discern the "line" that makes sense for the individual.
Cerato. Ah, wonderful Cerato. Cerato is not specifically a money issue remedy. It is one of the original Bach remedies. It is helpful for the person who doubts their own inner wisdom, and who has to poll their friends on every decision. It can also help the person who is easily led into the wrong decision because she listens too much to others and not enough to herself. The Cerato person never feels quite sure, and second-guesses themselves ad nauseam.
Cerato helps one be way more independently decisive and take less time to make decisions. Did you know that according to some, indecision is one of the biggest things that can hold you back? Or to put it more gently, indecision and not trusting oneself can cost one untold thousands of dollars of earning potential. I find that many people who complain of "stress" vaguely around issues of career and money need a course of Cerato just to get centered in hearing their own inner voice, and then a lot of the other problems take care of themselves.
California Poppy is also not specifically a money issue remedy, but is worth mentioning for the shopaholics out there. California poppy can help people who are caught up in trying to emulate the "lifestyles of the rich and famous" even if they don't have the resources to fund it. We all know the type -- their "money is on their feet" instead of their 401k. There is nothing wrong with having nice things, but not to the exclusion of one's true values. It helps those people go a little deeper to align with their own authentic values.
Penstemon is the remedy for when life just sucks in every way. I wish I could give it to everyone who just found out that the student loan forgiveness they were expecting is not going to happen. Penstemon evokes the biblical story of Job, and the great Steinbeck novel, Grapes of Wrath. This is the "light at the end of the tunnel" remedy, to help lift one out of self-pity (even if a pity party would be totally understandable). Penstemon is another remedy that isn't specifically about finances, but can be helpful.
Indian Root is one of the Desert Alchemy essences from Arizona. It is a cut through bull remedy for those who overcomplicate things and try too hard. Indulging in confusion, indecision, and overthinking can be a way the primitive brain lies to us and tells us that we are being "prudent" or "responsible," but in reality we are shooting ourselves in the foot because we are doing nothing to get closer to our career or financial goals. I have taken this, and found that it gently but powerfully quiets that primitive brain, allowing the pre-frontal cortex -- the part of the brain more suited to the task of financial goal setting and execution -- room to do its thing.
In summary, money issues and scarcity thinking are never isolated. They tell us volumes about how we are handling other parts of our lives -- our health, our relationships, and all other decisions. This is not a license to judge others or judge oneself harshly. Nothing has gone wrong, and the power is yours!
If you're intrigued about how the Flower Essences or Coaching can help you, you owe it to yourself to reach out.
To your prosperity!
Notice that the rope that says "GUEST ONLY" is open, telling you that you're allowed to take these steps.
One of the biggest mental and emotional hurdles facing many lawyers, especially new ones, is money stress.
Once upon a time, when I was less than one year from having passed the bar, I was in Sears trying to buy some cheap suits so that I would have something to wear.
Not Nordstrom. SEARS. Like, where you buy a lawn mower.
Just one suit plus one thrift store blazer in my wardrobe was not getting me by. I tried on several suits in the junior's department, you know, those polyester ones. They fit ok and looked acceptable. Most of all, they were what I believed I could afford at the time.
I picked out two that would work and stood in line. When it was my turn, the retail clerk asked me if I wanted to open a Sears credit card. Well, my parents had a Sears credit card since forever, so this was probably a smart thing to do. Right? I gave them my information, and they declined me. Multiple times. In front of everybody standing in line behind me. It was humiliating. I recall it had something to do with my income not being enough. But I was....a lawyer.
What does any girl do? I called my mom to complain. She couldn't believe it either. I had good credit. I was current on my student loans. It wasn't like I was trying to buy a house. What was the deal?
I gave up without my cheap suits and left. Then, for the next couple of years, I regularly visited the Salvation Army, hoping the my benevolent unknown twin, the rich doppelgänger, would have donated some nice stuff. I regularly found quality pieces there that fit well, and cooked up a whole story in my brain about my "rich doppelgänger" who got bored with her clothes every month and donated them.
In any event, I enjoyed my resourcefulness, but this was NOT what I thought my life as a young lawyer was going to be. And it wasn't just about the clothes. It was a lot of things that felt so far out of my control -- and were so far from what I was told they would be.
Many of us go to law school on the dazzling promise of a better life, a life with more influence and financial security than that afforded us by just a four-year degree.
For many of us, it is felt as the golden ticket out of the working class. For many others, it seems it is just our fate as members of the Gen-X or Millennial generations to need expensive higher education in order to continue the middle-class standard of living we had as kids.
So...we strive to get good grades in undergrad. We strive to get into the best law school we can afford, and do what it takes to prove ourselves worthy of remaining there. We compete for class rank, and try to get the best job someone will give us.
We keep striving, and get very used to the underlying not-enoughness as an emotional default setting.
And then as soon as we pass the bar and start working, many of us find that the do-good stuff we really want to do pays less than the evil corp stuff the other kids are doing. But we find we are spending the same money to keep up, to go to CLEs and networking events and live in the same expensive neighborhoods. Our colleagues in big law may look more fancypants but may not actually be any better off, with their larger car payments and more expensive wardrobes.
We wonder if we will ever pay off the student loan, or buy a house. We feel guilty about spending the money on a facial, or a delicious meal out, or a pair of shoes that puts a confident pep in our step. We then get into a very self-defeating thought loop where everything we do to take care of ourselves, invest in ourselves, or enjoy life becomes another count in the indictment against ourselves that we rattle off in our minds every morning, noon and night. Thoughts like:
And sometimes, these thoughts flash by really super fast before we are even fully aware of them, like stealthy product placements in movies and TV.
But the end result is a feeling of powerlessness that colors all our choices, actions, and inaction.
If, despite all the feel-good memes we like and share, our primitive brain still thinks we're screwed no matter what we do, we won't invest in ourselves.
We will buy the cheaper suit that fits weird and falls apart after one season, and carry ourselves differently when we wear it.
We will resist signing up for a personal trainer for our physical health, or a personal coach for our emotional management, and tell ourselves it is because we "can't afford it."
We'll prepare our own taxes.
We won't go to the conference where we could meet the people that could help us make our practice take off, because the hotel is too expensive.
Or we'll book a cheap Airbnb the night before a big out-of-town deposition to save money, and end up getting only three hours of sleep because it smelled awful and we had to leave and it took two hours to find a hotel. And end up NOT saving money. (Not that I've ever done that. LOL.)
And worst of all, we might take a shitty case for a client we don't like, because we're afraid the next dollar isn't coming our way. (A wise man once told me, "you're better off going fishing." He knows fishing isn't my thing, but he made his point.)
We're like, "I paid for law school, and I'm still paying for it, and that's it. I'm cut off." And every time we pass up an important opportunity to invest in ourselves or just really enjoy something simply because of money, we strengthen the self-limiting neurosynaptic pathways in the brain until they become like a four-lane freeway.
Our reptilian brain tells us that we are doing the "responsible" thing by cheap-assing it, but our evolved brain, our pre-frontal cortex, tells us that maybe this is "penny wise and pound foolish." You know -- sabotaging ourselves.
And we keep sabotaging ourselves because underlying all these responsible-sounding, "realistic" thoughts is a lack of belief in ourselves.
"Is she serious?" you may be asking yourself. And thinking: We were the first women in our family to graduate from law school. Or, perhaps even the first to graduate from college. We got good grades, passed the bar. Of course we believe in ourselves, don't we?
The truth is, if you feel like there is something you need, but you can't afford it, it is because you are not yet believing in yourself enough. You are still believing, to some degree, that the value you get out of something is not wholly within your control.
I will say this another way. Many of us who achieve great things, like graduating from law school, passing the bar, and getting a job have just assumed that reaching those milestones would create our results. That's often how it's packaged and sold to us. This is difficult for many very earnest hard workers to hear, especially because so much of life is set up that way: "get good grades, and you'll get into a good school. Get a good rank, and you'll get a good job. Etc. Etc."
They say "jump", and we ask, "how high?" And when we do that, but then are a loss as to why we aren't financially successful, or happy, or clear on what's next, we feel betrayed -- by The Man, or the Boomers, or God/the Universe, or how our law school was marketed to us.
I want to reassure you that it is human to feel betrayed, angry, stuck, scared, and all the other feels. You have followed the syllabus they handed you, the same one they handed me too, yet if you are still reading, maybe you are not where you want to be.
The good news is that you can change this.
But it will require you to think about yourself differently from the ways you have thought about yourself that got you this far.
The beliefs that made you a good student and nail your interview -- basically, beliefs about being good at meeting standards set by others -- are not the beliefs that are going to fuel actions that solve your personal, professional or financial disappointments. (Otherwise, you would have figured it out.) That's why learning these emotional and self-belief skills is ironically often hardest for women who were strong students and good test takers.
So, I'm inviting you to take the first step on that staircase by asking yourself these questions in your journal:
This is going to provide you a wealth of insight! In Part Two, I will highlight several Flower Essences that address the money, scarcity, and self-belief issues from a vibrational standpoint, best used in tandem with the thought work. Stay tuned.
This post contains affiliate links. Full disclaimer here.
If you haven't read the first three parts of this series, you must! Start here.
So, we have given ourselves nutritional support in Part One. In Part Two, we learned about Flower Essences that help us transform the emotional issues that PMS presents, and introduced the concept that PMS is an opportunity. In Part Three, we laced up our shoes and went running (or at least walking). Now let's do some thought work.
Thought work. What is that?
Thought work is a practice or discipline where we look at our thoughts critically instead of letting them roll by unobserved. We pull those thoughts out of our heads and put them onto paper -- yes, paper and pen in a journal, and not typewritten -- and then work with them in some structured way so that over time, we have more self-awareness and more deliberate choice over our thoughts.
Thought work allows us to pedal toward the place of the Observer/Witness with training wheels, or like indoor rock climbing, where we know what rock to reach for next by the friendly marker of color-coded tape.
And, the repeated practice of thought work journaling is integral to the Positive Cycle and the Opportunity of PMS.
But first, let's talk about some of the things we have tried that only created small improvement.
Have you ever tried to meditate and been frustrated that you keep....f'n...THINKING! -- and thinking really ugly stuff about yourself or your life? Did you think that you had failed somehow? Or have you found that meditation feels really good while you're doing it, but you have yet to see much improvement in your circumstances? Is it impossible to meditate when you have PMS?
Or, let's say that you already have a journaling practice. Have you been frustrated that you've written down big goals and then you lose steam? Have you written page upon page but still feel frustrated with a lack of progress in areas of your life?
Have you tried everything, and wonder how any of it can change the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS that interfere with your career and your personal life?
I have answered yes to all of those above questions. And at times have been very frustrated, even angry with my body. One time when I had PMS, I was reading Byron Katie's Loving What Is and threw the book across the room. "This shit doesn't work for PMS!!!" I got a lot out of Loving What Is, but there was still a missing piece for me specific to PMS that I did not get until years later.
I began to turn the corner when I decided to revisit A Course In Miracles ("ACIM"). I had tried to read it a couple times from the beginning, but found it boring and didn't make it to the part that was the zinger for me. Then one day, I happened upon it. The piece of it that was transformational for me was Lesson 136, Sickness is a Defense Against the Truth, which opens with, "No one can heal unless [s]he understands what purpose sickness seems to serve."
As I read ACIM 136-137, for the first time, I was reading something that gave me a visceral aha, and a logical argument for the purpose of physical discomfort, and those things that we would label as symptoms or medical problems.
Before, most of what I had read struck me as new age dogma, scolding me for having "created" PMS and then shaming me for not yet creating something better for my life. "I am a new age failure" -- well now. That's a super helpful thought.
I continued to work with the concept that as long as I perceived PMS as a "sickness," I was judging it and myself as "wrong," and missing the purpose of the experience altogether. I was arguing with reality. Dammit, Byron Katie was right about reality -- "when you argue with it, you always lose." I needed ACIM 136 - 137 to make that click, however.
While I continued (and still continue) to experience my body and my emotions differently during that time, once I studied ACIM 136 - 137, I could never again go back to the place where I believed that PMS was a "problem." I continued (and still continue) to take care of myself physically with proper diet, supplements, and running, but my thoughts about the entire thing have permanently changed, and even now continue to improve, without having to con myself. Which brings us to the capstone thought work discipline that ties it all together: Brooke Castillo's Self-Coaching Model.
Brooke Castillo's Model goes like this: Circumstances are neutral. We have thoughts about them, and our thoughts cause our feelings. Our feelings drive our actions (or inaction). The actions taken (or not taken) create our results.
PMS is a neutral circumstance. PMS may be our reality, but it is neutral. It cannot make us feel bad. Our thoughts do that. And, we can choose our thoughts about PMS. Always.
I realize this may be a tough pill to swallow.
Here's how we smooth it out.
The work here is to first become aware of what you are thinking about PMS by journaling about it. This is not a one-and-done kind of thing. You may need to do this every month for the rest of your life (until you hit menopause and have something else to write about). You can look at that as a bad thing, or you can look at that as an opportunity. Every month, really look at it. If you are a loss as to where to start, start with these questions in your journal:
It's not easy. And, the answers to these questions might vary from day to day. The key thing is doing it and becoming aware. I promise you that you'll learn a lot about yourself answering those questions.
There is more to say about cultural stories about women's bodies and minds and how that influences our subjective experience of being women in women's bodies, but I will save that for future posts.
Once you have answered the questions, you have a lot of rich material to work with. What themes and challenges do you see? Where is the opportunity?
This is where the skilled selection of Flower Essences can really help. We do the proper nutritional and supplement foundation, we get the physical exercise in the form of bilateral movement (running, or at least walking), we get loving assistance from Nature in the form of Flower Essences that are specific to us, and we tie it all together and keep making forward progress through the daily thought work journaling. These strategies, working together, can truly transform your life.
If PMS has been your struggle, you are not alone. I hope this series of posts has helped you, and that you have learned several new things that get you out of the vicious cycle and into the Positive Cycle. If you desire additional support to do this, consider working with me.
To your peace of mind and health!
Who is the lawyergoddess?
She is a woman lawyer who does not trade in her femininity, or her integrity, for the sake of any false choice presented to her in her life or career.
She always shows up as her best, and radiates it from a state of mind that is beautiful, self-possessed, and powerful.
She knows she is intelligent, capable, worthy of respect, perfect just as she is, and deserving of the best in everything.
She takes care of herself. Most often, she smiles because she appreciates life. If she's not smiling, it may be because she is saddened by some injustice. She knows that life is full of contrast. But she does not wallow in pity, for herself or others.
She exudes beauty, creates wealth, and is surrounded by support. Not because she needs it -- no, because creating it is a pleasure and a joy, and how she leads by example.
She's not afraid to show how she feels, because she has a baseline awareness and complete self-acceptance that people usually respect, kind of like the way they respect the law of gravity. (It's automatic.) And if they don't, so what.
She's not afraid to be overdressed, or overprepared. She enjoys her power responsibly.
She doesn't rely completely on something like a vision board to make her vision come true. She knows that everything outside of her, like wearing the right outfit for the occasion, is an aid to a process that is deeply in her heart, intention, and deliberate thought work.
And, if magic happens, it's icing on the cake. Which she does like to have and eat too (in moderation, and of the utmost quality).
The lawyergoddess is a leader who knows her own mind, style, and values.
Yes, we can all be her.
When I'm not coaching other lawyers, I'm running a Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act practice. In that work, I meet men and women of all ages who have issues with debt and credit.
And, I'm a woman entrepreneur who started my practice with very little, and I'm now doing quite well.
So, it's fair to say that "my mind [is] on my (and your) money, and my (and your) money [is] on my mind."
So let's talk about money, and risk, and women, and practicing law.
I have observed that women are generally more risk-averse than men. We women are usually more interested in what is safe and sure, over what is flashy and risky. While some men might get into trouble by buying large-ticket items impulsively, women -- even in the younger generations -- get into trouble when they rely too heavily on something outside of themselves to provide security or authority for their financial lives.
Even if a woman has a shopping problem, underlying the disordered spending is a desire for safety and security that comes wearing the sheep's clothing of some external thing that money can buy that may make them feel more "safe" in the world.
Many women struggle with a "good girl" complex about money -- that if we are smart and get good grades, spending six figures on higher education is always going to pay off and be okay.
I've learned that we are going to be okay once we learn to trust ourselves and our inherent wisdom, and spend a lot of our own time teaching ourselves things they don't teach us in law school.
The gap between the naive "good girl," risk-averse place that has us putting trust in doing whatever our parents, teachers, or social class would have us do all the way to that empowered place where we finally trust ourselves and bet on ourselves can be a wide river to cross.
Depending on who our parents, teachers, or social class are or were, being the "good girl" and doing as one is told may lead to expensive law school for one woman -- and no education and a dead-end job for another.
Regardless of where we begin, the journey across that river to where we trust in ourselves, and learn to take the right risks at the right times, begins with full awareness of all of the influences, voices, thoughts and feelings that keep us stuck.
As our awareness develops, we learn SO much more about what risks we want to take, what money we want to invest, and who we want to be, regardless of who we may have been up until now.
And we can start from anywhere. Here and now is always the perfect place.
Some questions to ask yourself:
Where am I?
How did I get here?
What is the river that I am crossing?
How will I know when I have safely crossed to the other side?
How is where I am starting from absolutely perfect for me?
What risks am I willing to take to make my life what I want it to be?
What risks were foolhardy and inauthentic for me, and how am I wiser?
What voices inside me am I no longer going to listen to instead of my own wisdom?
How will my financial well-being be safer as a result of listening to myself?
I'd love to hear how it goes.
In my time as a solo lawyer, I’ve talked to lots of young lawyers and new solos on how to succeed and maintain inner peace in what is perceived as a dog-eat-dog profession.
Some of them are dying to start their own practice, but they’re so worked up about what they don’t like about their current gig that they can’t get started with the new solo gig.
I launched my own practice in October 2010, around the same time I gave notice to a former employer. Whether you’re taking the leap into entrepreneurship or interviewing with other potential employers, this is the advice I have: get peace and clarity before you give notice. Be sure you're running TO something, not AWAY from something.
Look deep into yourself and know why you want to peace out of this job. Are you running toward a vision of your career, and this next job or new business is going to be aligned with that vision? Or are running from something? Clues that you are running away include feeling under-appreciated, unfulfilled, angry or prone to complaining. Spend some time writing it down and get really clear.
So let's say you journal about this, and after spewing lots of complaints onto the page, you realize you are definitely trying to run away from something. OK, don't kick yourself for it. It's human.
Being super clear on what we do NOT want is a necessary step up the emotional scale toward full conscious awareness of what we DO want, and why.
So, the first step toward making peace with the reasons why your current situation sucks is to write it down and become fully aware of it. Don't let it just be background noise in your brain.
There are a number of techniques for taking the sting out of each of your complaints or negative thoughts that I'll address in future posts. (If you want a preview of one method, please just sign up for my list at the contact page, and I'll send you the little mini-workbook I created for you.)
Once you know what your true motivations are, now you can form a vision. List out everything that you learned and gained from the old job that will be useful in the next job or your new business. Even if it feels strange, find a few reasons to be thankful for the old job that you're about to leave.
After that, you'll be feeling a little more peaceful, and so focused on your next steps that your announcement that you're leaving will be fueled by positive energy and you won't be likely to burn the bridge. You never want to burn a bridge (or be the first one to light a match), because your old supervisor and colleagues may be your first source of new client referrals or you may run into them in court or business dealings.
Like my grandmother used to say, "kill them with kindness." No matter what "they" did to you, or what jerks they are, if you can set a tone of professionalism and grace in your notice, it will pre-pave better interactions with these people from here on out. And you'll be so busy shining in your new venture that before long, they won't rattle you anymore.
Not only does this process make for a smooth transition within you and around you, it will help you get up to speed in your new job or business because you have spent quality time on your positive vision for it.
Now go get started on that vision!