a little Evernote trick.

If you’re not using Evernote, no need to read further. Although I think you should be using Evernote. (Here’s a little post I wrote for the uninitiated.)

If you are using Evernote on a Mac, then you should know this:

HOW TO DELETE A NOTEBOOK.

No, you don’t just click on the notebook and hit the “delete” key. Which, by the way, is how you delete a note.

You must hold down the control key, select the notebook, and a menu appears. See screenshot below.

You now can do all kinds of neat things with your notebook. Including delete it. Yay!

[Inspiredlawblog is written by Cat Moon, a lawyer and coach who works with lawyers and other interesting folks who seek fulfilling, happy work lives.]

have you taken a break lately?

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I have. I just returned from a quite long one, actually. (See above for the view from my beach perch.) For a month (plus some), I took a break from [most] work and [most] media (including writing for this blog, Twitter, reading the 12 zillion blogs in my RSS feed, and other internet rabbit holes I frequent).

[Admission: I did spend some time on Facebook because I have family that will pester me unless they’re receiving semi-regular updates.]

I spent time with family and friends. Being truly present.

It was hard at times. Yep. I jonesed more than once for a feed — any kind of feed — on my iPhone.

But the mental, emotional and psychic break I got from disconnecting and truly breaking away? I’m still processing how important this was. Is.

I traveled some of the time. I think this is key to a real break. Get out of your daily routine. Get out of your comfort zone. Get away from what you know.

Relax expectations. This is also important. If you’re like me, you spend much of your time working to fulfill expectations. Your own, your family’s, your client’s. Someone’s. Let go of this, too.

We all know that the legal profession is filled with stress, anxiety, and too much negativity. Which makes taking a real break all the more important for legal practitioners. Not a working break. A REAL break.

I know this is hard. We are taught in law school that we can never work hard enough. The programming to work insane hours (way beyond any human’s productive capacity) continues for pretty much any law firm associate. I wager it’s worse for those in bigger firms, but I can tell you that the expectations in the small firm I worked for out of law school were the same. Stay long after 5:00 (or 6:00 or 7:00) has come and gone. Come in on the weekends. Failure to do so? Then you’re deemed not worthy. You don’t want it enough.

I’m not the only one who thinks that this is anathema to being a good lawyer. Or a healthy, sane, happy person. But it seems to be a perpetuated model.

Well, I for one don’t want to have a heart attack, develop a serious addiction, contemplate or attempt suicide, or alienate my friends and family.

So I take breaks. Long breaks. Doing things that have nothing to do with work. With people I love.

Breaks make us happier. Even in jobs that we don’t love. And especially in jobs we do. They make us more resilient.

How long has it been since you took a real break? If you’re reading this and thinking that there’s no way you can leave your work and truly disconnect, then I’ve got news for you.

You’re doing it wrong. Really, really wrong. There is no work, no legal practice, that stops you from taking a break. Create the right way to work, and the breaks happen. Because you build them into how you work.

I know this because it’s how I operate. And I’m not alone. But there are far too few of us in this club.

Come join the club. And send me a postcard when you get there.

what lawyers can learn from maya angelou.

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At 86, Maya Angelou continued to be a force of nature. Teacher, writer, poet, friend, mentor, mother, activist, dancer, singer, avid reader. And so much more than we could possibly even know. Visit her Facebook page and it’s clear that she did all of these things, relished them, right until the very end.

Every single one of us should take a page from her inspiration. Lawyers, most especially. We need what Maya offered the world. And most of us are the last to see this connection between our lives and hers.

Let the brain go to work, let it meet the heart and you will be able to forgive. – Maya Angelou

Lawyers are trained to be rational appliers of reason, facts, precedence. We are told and taught in law school that our opinion doesn’t matter — that it’s all in the logic of our argument and the facts that support it. Our emotions, our hearts, are removed from the equation. Intentionally.

This is no way to go through life. Especially a life that for many of us is consumed by our profession. Let your brain meet your heart. You will do better work. You will do better for yourself. Because emotion has a place in the law, and it must have a place in our daily experience of life. To deny this is really to deny a fundamental part of the human experience.

And the “forgive” part — this is important. We lawyers tend to be perfectionists, type A personalities who expect a lot from our ourselves and from others. So much so that we give ourselves and our profession a bad name.

But here’s the thing. We’re not perfect. We screw up. We need to forgive ourselves, embrace the screw up, learn from it and move on. The same applies to others — especially the people we work with and who work for us. Don’t be the stereotypical lawyer who yells at anyone who gets anything the slightest bit not perfect. Rigidity in perfectionism does not serve us, our clients, or our profession well.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

Ah, yes, how you made people feel. “Feel” is one of those words that doesn’t have a place in the lawyer’s vocabulary. Is it surprising that our profession is mostly hated? <It was hard to pick a link for this one because there are so many great articles on lawyer-hating. It’s a popular topic.>

Essentially, way too many of us don’t give a rat’s booty about how we make people feel. Not our coworkers, opposing counsel, even our clients. We’re arrogant, ego-centric, and don’t forget about that “show no emotion” mantra that’s drilled into us from law school on.

To wit: the word “client service” is an oxymoron in the legal profession. But our service to others — how we make them feel — goes to the heart of our connections. The very connections that make a life worth living, really.

Do you really want to do great work? And feel great about doing it? Then give a damn how you make other people feel. Yes, you may have to unlearn a lot, thanks to law school and the example set by others (unfortunately). But it will be worth it.

Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good. – Maya Angelou

Gratitude and its expression in our lives — such a simple concept that holds so much power. For those wanting proof of its power and importance in living a fulfilled life, it’s there. Hard science now supports what Maya Angelou knew:

  • Gratitude increases social connection – which studies show is essential for health and well-being
  • Gratitude increases altruism – which is a strong predictor of happiness
  • Gratitude decreases depression and improves optimism and positive emotions which in turn increase well-being, boost creativity, benefit relationships, and impact longevity

Grateful people are happy people. Do you really need any further encouragement?

I wager that lawyers, more than most, wield an incredibly strong negativity bias. First of all, we humans are hard-wired for it, unfortunately. Add to that a profession that keeps one mired in the negative (for the most part). What chance do we have?

Actually, we have a great chance at overcoming our negativity bias. By choosing and living with and in gratitude.

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you. – Maya Angelou

I really can’t add much here. The legal profession is rife with examples of the very bad things that happen when you make money your goal.

If you love practicing law, then do it well. Do it in a way that supports the life you want to live. I have no idea if this will also provide the financial support you (think you) need. But why would you sacrifice a life lived well for a hellish existence that paid well? Working hard doesn’t solve the core problems faced by an unhappy lawyer. It just exacerbates them.

And if you aren’t finding purpose and some sort of happiness, or at least genuine satisfaction, in the practice of law, then leave it. I have a [recovering lawyer] friend who helps people. Talk to her.

Why? Because …

If you are going down a road and don’t like what’s in front of you and look behind you and don’t like what you see, get off the road. Create a new path! – Maya Angelou

it’s all in the presentation.

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I’m going to assume that you know the law. You know what you need to know, to perform the legal work that your clients need you to perform. You, and likely many hundreds — if not thousands — of other lawyers who could also serve your clients.

So why does a client choose you, and not one of the other hundreds or thousands?

It’s all in the presentation.

I know, I’ve probably lost you at this point. Didn’t take long. Because we lawyers spend little if any time thinking about this.

And by this, I mean all of the little things that make the difference for clients. You’re a superlawyer? Well, so are a lot of other lawyers. You’ve been doing this for X [insert impressive number of] years? Ditto. You have a high Avvo or Martindale Hubbell rating? Again, ditto.

None of these things set you apart. Now, they might appeal to another attorney who’s looking for someone to refer a client to, but to your ideal potential client? Not so much.

This is why someone hires YOU instead of another attorney: HOW YOU PRESENT YOURSELF.

So, how do you present yourself? What is the first impression of a potential client who …

visits your website?

calls your office?

sends you an email?

meets you at a networking event?

asks for your card?

has an initial consultation in your office?

You have one and only one opportunity to make a great first impression.

Spend some time answering the above questions. Really think about how you present to the people who you most want to work with. What can you do to present well to these folks?

I’d love to know what you come up with. And I’ll be sharing a few thoughts of my own in the next post …