In 2014, I was pretty fed up with life and I decided to do something different. Since my years practicing law had not prepared me to take any really big risks, I decided to take a small one. I rented a cottage on Cape Cod for the summer and set out to prove that I could work from anywhere.
My father used to ask, “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”
There are probably a million things that are wrong with that question, but his basic point is worth considering. He was asking why it is that some people believe that they know better concerning just about everything, but they do not generate any results from their supposed brilliance.
I said and thought a lot of stuff while I was practicing law. I believed every single bit of it. Over time I figured out that some of it was kind of dumb. Here are some of those gems:
When I practised law in Mississauga, Ont., our fees were cheap compared to the Toronto firms, and kind of expensive compared to firms in places like Guelph, Belleville and Kingston. I occasionally wondered whether my clients might prefer to deal with firms in smaller cities at lower rates. Then I would reassure myself that doing so would be terribly inconvenient for them and that they would rather pay more to deal with me.
Now I am not so sure.
My father told me about a dad who told his son to jump from a roof top, and that he would catch him. The son jumped. The dad stepped aside and let him fall. When the injured boy demanded an explanation, the dad replied, “I have just taught you a valuable lesson. Never trust anyone, not even your own father.”
As you may imagine, I had trust issues growing up, which is a bad thing. As it turns out, having a few trust issues may be helpful in the business world.
From time to time I hear stories about Big Law offering Big Money to attract first year lawyers to sign away their souls in Toronto, or U.S. firms opening the vaults and waving around signing bonuses to lure Canadian legal newbies south of the border.
While throwing money at junior folks can be a good thing, I think that a warning is in order. Since no one else appears to be issuing one, yet again it falls to me to cut through the bullshit, state the obvious, and protect the new generation of lawyers.
I will draw my inspiration from the love of my life, who, nurturing parent that she is, used to warn her young children about “Stranger Danger.” More specifically, she would say: “Don’t be stupid about it. Be sure that you see the candy BEFORE you get in the van.”
I will leave it to you intelligent young folks to search for meaning in my warning and being lawyers, Govern Yourselves Accordingly.
I had only been a lawyer for a few months when I had my first shareholders dispute to deal with.
My boss told me to take the position with opposing counsel that his client’s resignation from “all positions with the corporation” included his resignation as a minority shareholder. I told him that his argument was ridiculous. One cannot resign as a shareholder.
The other day my wife purported to correct something I said. I asked her how I could get her to stop doing that. She replied, “You could try being right once in a while.”
I just told my girlfriend, “I have written the first paragraph of my latest post, but I have nothing of value to say.” She replied, “That never stopped you before.”
Entrepreneurs should always aim to play the long game. Instant gratification cannot build a legacy. — Andrena Sawyer, business consultant
Matt is a rather humble business owner. He recently told me that, “the thing about bringing more intelligent people into the room is that it is so easy for me.”
Matt is also a very successful business owner. He gets it. His goal is not to prove to the world how smart he is. It is to build a business that provides a great service and makes customers happy.