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  • Writer's pictureCooper Shattuck

A Foot on the Dock and a Foot...

Well, summer isn’t technically over, but you know it’s getting close when schools start. Hopefully, this summer allowed you some time to take a breather. Not a COVID-forced hiatus but one you chose. Perhaps you were able to reconnect with those whom you had not seen in a while. Or maybe you took that much-anticipated and much-delayed vacation. The lake and the beach seemed to be especially popular this summer. Perhaps we appreciated them a little more than we usually do. In addition to spending time with friends and family, eating too much, and earnestly relaxing, such locales also offered an opportunity to test a variety of refreshing waters (salted, unsalted and heavily chlorinated) and a time of uninhibited reflection (not just that on its surface but some high-quality, uninterrupted thought). They also offered us the ability to take to the waters in a host of specialized watercraft, which provide a fantastic illustration of one of the most common obstacles law firms and lawyers experience in seeking to implement positive change in their practice.

You don’t have to be an experienced seaman to appreciate that a foot on the dock and a foot in the boat is a precarious position that is best short-term. The hesitancy to move from one to the other greatly increases the chance of winding up in yet a third location which one desperately wants to avoid – the water. Nevertheless, once appreciated, we fail to extend the obvious logic beyond the pier.

There are lots of lawyers sitting by their fax machines wondering where all their work went. Those lawyers don’t realize or appreciate that things have changed and thus they should. They are sitting on the dock, but it is rotting and sinking beneath them. There are just as many who recognize the need for something new but fail to achieve it. They know that something needs to change but perhaps cannot figure out what it is, so they do nothing. Others have some fresh ideas but are simply afraid of change, so they do little to nothing. Still others recognize the need, know what needs to be done, and take steps toward doing it, but they don’t commit. They’re afraid to let go. They can’t complete the transition. They have a foot on the dock and a foot in the boat. They never realize the full potential the necessary transformation offers.

So how do we avoid falling in the drink? First, make sure this is the best boat for you.

If you want to take a leisurely stroll around the lake without getting wet, don’t jump on the Sea Do. If you want to go fishing, don’t jump in the ski boat. Do your best to figure out where your strengths are and what you want to accomplish, then find the boat that best suits your needs. Only then should you calculate how best to board it. Where will you put your feet? What can you hold on to while you transition? What steps will you need to take to successfully transform your practice? Then commit. Make the leap. Leave the sinking, deteriorating dock.

Remember, once you’re in the boat if you decide to try something else, you can. You’ve learned how to transition, you know how best to avoid a fall, and you can do it again if you have to.

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