Lawyer Benchmarks Taught by Airstream

There are benchmarks in life … and in our law practices. Benchmarks might be as significant as a marriage, a birth or a death. In law, it might be graduating from law school, opening one’s own practice, winning a significant case, or in today’s world of Baby Boomers, moving into our "second season."

The Airstream trailer (see my earlier posts on this subject) has taught me and confirmed many lessons I’ve learned over the years. Here are just a few that our current trip has triggered:

Change is part of life, and we must learn how to manage change to be successful

Change requires that we be flexible

Life involves continuous improvement

Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity

Our Airstream adventure has now crossed an unexpected and exciting benchmark. My wife saw our Airstream trailer a little more than a year ago … fell in love … and had to have this one. That was a "sharp right turn," as one might say, for the way we were to live. We took it to a reputable repair shop for our due diligence, made repairs we were told about … and began to travel for short jaunts, finding little things here and there. After a few trips, all the "bugs" were fixed. We were ready to go!

Today, we just completed our longest trip thus far … into Central California near the Kern River. This is a beautiful spot in nature despite the drought that California is experiencing (hence the recent major fires) and the very low Kern River. Here, with about 15 other Airstream trailers in a "rally," we met and talked all about Airstreams, looking at what other folks have done to their trailers as well as the new trailers that some prefer to purchase.

The net result of all these discussions is that we’ve decided to sell our trailer. Don’t panic, we’re not getting out of this adventure just yet!

Our trips thus far, the refurbishing we’ve done to our trailer in the last year, and learning about all the possibilities open to us, we’ve decided that doing more to our trailer would be an unwise move. Thus, we’ll sell the trailer, buy another shell, strip the inside, and then build it out with our specifications in mind. We’ll then have our own, very personal vintage trailer! The emphasis here is on "vintage." Really exciting.

This reminds me of the rights of passage as a new lawyer. Graduating from law school, going to work for another lawyer (to learn "where the courthouse is located"), and then becoming a partner in a law firm, and finally starting my own firm. There is a learning curve in everything we do, some longer and more expensive, some shorter and cheaper, but a learning curve nevertheless.

Throughout a lawyer’s career, we learn from each matter and client we represent. That is one of the most attractive elements of law practice – continuous improvement. Clients sometimes fail to tell us the entire truth, our adversaries keep us on our toes and, of course, the law may change in the middle of our matter causing our cited precedents to take on a different cast. In each matter, we manage changes, changes that require our flexibility to represent our client well.

And living with my wife’s dream in our Airstream does the same for me now> This process requires flexibility on my part for continuous change and enjoyment of this part of our life, one some might call our "second season," as I continue to coach and consult with lawyers throughout the country about continuously help them improve their effectiveness with clients, enhance their efficiency in delivering their services and, of course, increase their profitability.

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