And Sometimes Why

“The practice of law is at its essence about helping people in times of trouble.” So says David S. Argentar, deputy director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism in a recent article for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. As obvious and true as this is, it can be easily forgettable in the midst of pressures to achieve more, to rack up billable hours and to win for your clients against all odds. It’s all well and good to talk about coming from a place of generosity in your practice and building authentic relationships, but even the best of intentions can go off the rails when it comes to implementation. But here’s the bottom line: if you don’t find a way to remember what you’re in it for, you’re probably not going to feel that sense of satisfaction we all want but don’t always know how to attain.

As Argentar points out, numerous surveys exist to track workplace satisfaction based on a number of criteria such as workload manageability, training and advancement opportunities, and compensation and benefits packages. “But for many of us, ‘satisfaction’ in our profession is dependent upon more than those quantifiable and tangible criteria and includes a more existential component about whether the actual work we are doing matters, whether our efforts result in tangible and perceptible benefits for real people, whether it is intellectually and emotionally stimulating and rewarding.”

For Argentar, the reminder of this mission is a picture of two coconut shell horses gifted to him by a couple he helped with a particularly upsetting family issue. When he looks at this picture in his office, he remembers just how much lawyers are able to do for people who are hurting, and how his efforts impacted the couple he helped. It doesn’t matter what you use to remind yourself of your “why,” but finding something may make the difference on those days when you’re struggling.

What represents your “why” in your practice? Tell us below!