The Business of Creativity

Houchin Consulting PLLC

She was trapped.

Posted on | March 22, 2010 | No Comments

Do you enjoy your work as a lawyer?

Do you have the balanced life you were hoping for?

Do you get to spend enough time with your family or doing the things that feed your spirit?

Do you know that you can pay your bills next month?  How about next year?

Have you always wished you could start your own law practice, but the fear of financial insecurity keeps you in a “J-O-B” that is steeling your life?

Have you already started your practice, but feel stupid asking for help?

If a solution to these questions was given to you, would you take action?

Let me tell you a story.

Maybe you know someone like this…

There was once a very smart young leader.  This leader was always top of the class in High School.  She was also the natural leader outside the classroom, excelling in extra-curricular activities. She was passionate about everything she did, confident, and secure in the knowledge of her successful future.

When she went to college it became a bit more challenging, but she still fell into natural leadership roles and achieved results that her classmates envied. She had always known she was going to be some sort of “professional,” but in college, it became pretty clear that law school might be in her future.  After graduation, she worked a few jobs, but none gave her the challenge she craved. She got bored. She also found a few things in the world that she wanted to change and making those changes just felt “right.” She wasn’t conscious that addressing those issues was her life path, but the passion was kindled again and she decided that law school would be the next step toward reaching her goals.  She ALWAYS reached her goals, so she applied, and was accepted to a highly respected law school.

She realized on the first day of law school that things were different. This wasn’t going to be an easy ride to the top. Her classmates were very smart, some younger, some older, but all used to high achievement. She didn’t know what to think, so she didn’t notice when the culture started thinking for her.

She didn’t notice when her inner definition of success changed to a definition that included making the staff of the Law Review, competing for summer internships, receiving grades in the top 10% of her class and ultimately landing a job with a large firm in a major city with a six-figure salary. She didn’t notice when her understanding of her life balance and drive to help people make their lives better was replaced with these other measures – that was “normal” in law school.  She didn’t notice when her ability to engage her heart and conscience was replaced by “thinking like a lawyer.” Those changes too, were “normal” in law school.

She spent summers in “top” internships where she learned that the competition had only just begun, and got a small glimpse into the amount commitment a partnership track associate had to give to the firm.  She also saw the toys they were able to buy with the salary (which they never seemed to have time to enjoy), and whenever she saw her law school debt statements she decided that she HAD to have that salary, no matter what.

She made the law review, and while she generally enjoyed the people she spent time with, the work itself seemed tedious and unimportant in the context of that fading dream of changing the world in her particular way. Again, this was just “normal” for law school.

She graduated in the top 10% of her class. She got an offer from the firm she had worked with the summer between 2L and 3L. The job offer wasn’t in an area of law that had anything to do with her dream, but it paid well, was prestigious, and she needed the money to pay off her school loans. Her parents were very happy for her. Her old friends respected her. She felt smart.

When she started as the new associate in the big firm, she discovered the realities of minimum billing. She discovered the drudgery that can come with law practice. She felt smart, but unfulfilled – like something was missing in her life. She had good money for the first time in her life, so when she felt hollow, she went shopping. The toys were nice, but they didn’t fill that hole inside her.  She volunteered (with what little time she could give – she had to work weekends to make the billable hour minimums after all, and she also wanted to get ahead and make partner someday), but it still didn’t fill that void.

She was smart and worked hard, so after a few years, she was well respected in a field of law that had nothing to do with her dream, but there were now law students that knew more about the legal issues in that other area than she did now.

Now she was an expert…

In a field she didn’t enjoy…

Working all the time…

To pay for a lifestyle…

That she developed to fill the void…

Of being an expert…

In a field she didn’t enjoy…

Working all the time…

She was trapped.

She didn’t know what to do and felt stupid asking for help. She saw her peers drinking too much, or taking on worse habits to take the edge of the cycle of pain they had created in their lives.  She hadn’t developed those habits, but could see the motivation. She wasn’t sleeping well. Something needed to change.

She had to find the place back to that purpose in her life that motivated her to go to law school in the first place.

But how?

She was scared she would be seen as a failure.

She was scared she would not make enough money.

But she was more scared that she was literally selling the days of her life to her firm, without living her purpose.

The fear of wasting her life was terrifying, far bigger than the fear of failure or not having a six figure income immediately.

So, she resolved to take action and get her life back on purpose…

She left the big firm and started her own practice. She wanted to empower others to reach their entrepreneurial dreams because she believed that inside every human was some creative gift they could give to the world. She new that many entrepreneurs would benefit from her experience and find the confidence THEY needed to pursue their dreams because she was willing to share her mistakes with them. After all, the fear of asking for help is human nature when there’s a little bit of shame attached. Shame of not knowing. Shame from getting into “dumb” situations. Shame of making mistakes.  She had experienced those things, and if it could happen to this smart, over-achieving lawyer, it could happen to anyone.

Her solo practice was growing, but she was still worried.  The business model of the legal industry said that you had to bill people a lot of money, by the hour, or by the project. Many of her small business clients were bootstrapping start-ups and honestly couldn’t afford to pay “the going rate.”

Each month was a struggle.  She never knew where the billing would start in the next month, let alone end up, so she couldn’t bring herself to hire even a part time assistant because she didn’t want to have to lay someone off.  She couldn’t focus on the systems to deliver her best work, because she had to deal with all the mundane details of running the business. She had a hard time actually billing more than a few hours a day, and some days getting even a couple billable hours in didn’t happen until after her kids and husband were asleep. She would have a great month of billable work, only to find that she hadn’t had time to market and bring in work for the next month. She called that the cash-flow roller-coaster, and she hated it.

Again, she was trapped.

This time, she wasn’t trapped by the big firm.  She didn’t know who to blame. This was how the law business worked, wasn’t it?

There had to be a better way.

There had to be a way to create predictable income.

There had to be a way to serve clients better.

There had to be a way to focus on what she loved.

There had to be a way to spend more quality time with the people she loved.

There had to be a way to hire the help she needed.

There had to be other people in the same situation.

There had to be someone who knew how to help her, without making her feel like a failure.

Well, there is.  And maybe YOU can be a part of that group.


Do you want to get your life back on purpose?

Do you want to better serve your small business clients?

Do you want to spend more quality time with the people you love?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions, then you owe it to yourself, your family, and your clients to listen to the replay of the call I co-hosted with my friend Ben Glass last week.

My name is Kevin Houchin, and I founded The Space Between Center for Creative Spirit in Business to help other small business lawyers discover the literally life-changing methods and mind-sets that I’ve learned since discovering how to get my life back on purpose, better serve my clients, spend more time with my family, and integrate my lifestyle with my career.

If you want to take action and change your life for the better, join us on the call and see if membership in the Space Between Center Lawyer Mastermind Program might be for you. If you think so, but don’t take action now, then you’re probably not a good fit for the program anyway – it’s only for those ready to take action. If you think so and take action, then you may very well be on the right path.

Go listen to the call replay now.

It’ll be worth your time.

It might even change your life.

Now, back to work…


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