‘There is so much we can do that is not necessarily taught at law school’

‘There is so much we can do that is not necessarily taught at law school’

13 January 2022 By Lauren Croft

Taking care of yourself is a key element in accessing your “limitless” potential, according to this lawyer-turned-executive coach.

Charlotte Smith is a former lawyer and a current leadership coach for lawyers. Based in San Francisco, she runs an LLC called Limitless Lawyer, wherein she helps lawyers improve their professional and personal lives.

Speaking recently on The Lawyers Weekly Show, Ms Smith explained how best lawyers could take advantage of the myriad of opportunities that have been presented by the age of coronavirus and – how they can become what she describes as “limitless lawyers”.

In terms of being a limitless lawyer, Ms Smith described the concept as “unique to each individual”.

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“We all have our own versions of what limitless potential looks like in my coaching practice. I really help lawyers to identify what is their limitless vision, that vision that they imagine and dream of, perhaps it’s something that was there as a child, but life in a way who has kind of beaten those hopes and dreams out of you,” she clarified.  

“And then we work on identifying where we are right now and how we can get to point B because actually, something as intangible as a dream can become a reality when we break it down into small, manageable steps that we can focus on.”

Whilst what it means to be limitless differs from person to person, Ms Smith said there were a few commonalities with her coaching clients – specifically relating to what lawyers are looking for in a post-pandemic life.

“COVID has led to people really evaluating what is working in their life and what perhaps isn’t working. And the recent search shows that people are typically wanting more flexibility in their lives, and they want to work for strong leaders.

“And when I use the word strong, I don’t necessarily mean that in the sense of being powerful or being authoritarian, someone who exhibits excellent leadership skills that is able to make an employee team member feel seen and heard and a valued member of a team, that’s really important to individuals having a sense of purpose in their work and being able to make an impact,” she said.

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“I think what we are seeing now is that law firms and the legal profession in-house legal teams are really starting to recognise that it’s not all about paying individuals this huge salary and having the golden handcuffs that actually some of these other components are really important to attract and retain top talent.”

With these shifting priorities increasingly coming into play post-pandemic, there are a number of things both organisations and individuals can do to be conscious of this.

“There is an approach prior from leadership being very conscious about what kind of team, what kind of culture we are creating. A lot of firms have systemic issues around overwork and burnout, which leads to what is leaving the profession,” Ms Smith explained.

“As for the individuals, there is so much work that we can do that is not necessarily taught at law school around time management productivity, how we are taking care of ourselves. Again, performance science shows that when we are exercising, when we are able to be in nature, that helps us to be able to tune into innovation and innovative ideas, bringing more creativity to the place of work, which is incredibly important in today or in climate.”

When asked how legal practitioners can best access their limitless potential, Ms Smith said that there are a number of strategies lawyers can take in order to put their wellbeing first, perform better as a result and identify what she called a “zone of genius”.

“The first steps would be to really think about what your daily routine looks like. Do you have a morning routine? How do you get into the zone? Having a practice in the morning, perhaps you’re including exercise or mindfulness, really thinking as well about the food that you are eating and how you are taking care of your body. All of that is incredibly important.

“Starting to identify your zone of genius is also game-changing in so many ways. Your zone of genius is the space where your talents and your passions collide. So, you can really start to do some exercises, and perhaps it’s just taking a notebook and going to a place in nature or just somewhere where you’ve got quiet uninterrupted time without email notifications and so on going on and start to ask yourself those questions and really identifying what your talents are, and that information will help you to identify your zone of genius. Once you figure out your zone of genius, you can then start to come up with creative ideas of how to unleash that in your day to day,” she said.

“I believe that when you are able to operate in your zone of genius, by nature you are in a space of flow. Things feel easy, you feel motivated and energised. And when you’re in that headspace versus feeling stressed and burnt out, overworked, then when you’re in your zone of genius, the ideas start to flow, and you’re able to tap into that creativity, which is crucial for really being able to innovate.”

And more than ever, Ms Smith concluded that working with a professional could not only help lawyers operate in their “zone of genius” but also help improve their professional and personal lives post-pandemic.

“Ten to 15 years ago, if a lawyer was working with a therapist or a coach, they would be asked what’s the problem, what’s wrong with you to be working with a coach or therapist? And that mindset has shifted now,” she said.

“If you’re not working with a coach, if you’re not working with a therapist, then why not? Why are you not investing that time to up level your skill set and to really work on breaking down the blind spots that we all inevitably have?”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Charlotte Smith, click below:

 

‘There is so much we can do that is not necessarily taught at law school’
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