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Ego Management in Law Firm

published December 24, 2021

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Ego and control are major topics in the debate of what makes attorneys successful. However, ego and always needing to have everything under control act as a double-edged sword. They are a great driving force that compels us to do and be better, but when we let them go unchecked and go through our lives, always trying to satisfy our egos, they can cause a great deal of pain. In today's article, I want to demonstrate why keeping a healthy ego is vital for becoming a successful lawyer.
 
 

Control and Lack of Vulnerability


My need to have things under control started quite early in my life. Around the age of ten, many negative things happened in my family that made me look "not normal" to the people around me. And because I desperately wanted to fit in and be viewed as normal, I did what I could to give the impression that everything was alright in my family. I focused all of my energy on school and sports, as those were what I could have under control.


I was the best student in my class and became great at sports in hopes of seeming invulnerable. It might have looked great on the surface, but in reality, I became extremely depressed. My family life was far from perfect, and I had many issues with my divorced parents. But because I did not want to show any vulnerability, I never told anyone about the issues, not even a social worker my school sent to make sure I was alright after the few negative situations. I refused to deal with these negative feelings, so they consumed me when I seventh grade.

By that time, I started caring less about what was going on around me. I did not care about my grades, I did not care about school, and I did not care about sports. I started getting bad grades, got kicked out of one school, and even repeated a grade. I got immersed in this lack of care for anything in my life and found new friends based on it.

Thankfully, my father got me out of that environment by moving us to Thailand. If he had not done that, I would probably end up like my friends from that time did - addicted to drugs, in prison, or dead.

However, with this change came my belief that I had to have everything under control, and if I wanted something, I could achieve it by controlling everything and everyone around me, which was not a good way to live. People are social creatures and need collaboration and relationships with others to be successful. When you view others as simple chess pieces, you can move around to achieve your goal and do what you want without really offering anything back and not showing your vulnerabilities; you will not be happy. People begin to really experience life satisfaction after they realize this big lesson.
 

Vulnerability and Control in the Legal Career


Unfortunately, attorneys are especially talented in not showing their vulnerabilities and always appearing strong and untouchable.

In some instances, it is necessary. Law firms like to hire attorneys who appear strong and do not have burdens in their backgrounds that could come back to bite them. That means no bad relationships with their previous employers, no explosive firing, no period of unemployment, no personal issues, or needs for a lower workload. Those with fewer weaknesses are the most likely to get hired or succeed in getting the client, while apparently vulnerable attorneys fall short of these instant successes.

The less vulnerable you look, the more likely you will get hired and do good in law firms. The more successful the law firm is, the more they want to hire people who do not show any weakness and act almost like they are not human. And that is in direct collision with how we are as human beings. Maybe that is why it can be a tough profession to be in, and many of the most successful attorneys who dedicated their lives to their job lack in some way in their personal life.
 

The Cost of Having Everything Under Control


My company, BCG Attorney Search, has focused on legal recruitment for over two decades already, so my recruiters and I have a lot of experience with different types of lawyers that seek our services. We noticed in all those years that working with the most successful law firms partners is almost impossible.

They want to have everything under control, which means that they are rarely willing to listen to anyone's feedback or advice. Lawyers have their own idea of what is best for lawyers and are used to dictating all the terms. They already know which large law firms they want to interview with and are unwilling to listen to any other suggestions. Generally, they do not offer any information that would help us help them - no explaining why they want to switch law firms or what they are looking for. After interviews, they do not want to share feedback or want any further assistance. The only thing they need from the recruiters is to get an interview in a law firm(s) they chose, and then they want to do everything on their own to have the most control possible.

However, that is not how we operate, and it makes our job in this quite meaningless. And lawyers are also doing a disservice to themselves. By not allowing anyone to advise lawyers or give constructive feedback, lawyers do not find out about various opportunities and are bound to repeat their mistakes.

On the other hand, attorneys, whether associates or partners, who can find success through legal recruitment and go on to become extremely successful in their jobs, want others to give them feedback and work hard to incorporate it to better themselves. They are open to suggestions and are willing to show their weaknesses, even though it can hurt their ego, to ensure that they find a placement that will play into their strengths. When they get the position, they can grow and advance because they listen closely to what others say about their work and do what they can to improve.
 

Ego and Control


My constant need to have everything under control and my ego have helped me a lot in my career, but they also ruined some opportunities. Early in my career, when BCG Attorney Search was growing, many people tried to be my partners.

I did not want any partners at that time for two reasons - I thought that even though these people were talented, they were not good enough to be my partners. I was also once been told by a psychic that if I ever got a partner, I would end up on the streets. I do not believe in these spiritual things, but I already had reservations about getting a partner, so it only played into what I already thought.

At first, this was beneficial for my business. Many of the people who wanted to become my partners caused huge problems to the firms they ended up in, so it was a good call not to take them in. However, then I got an offer I should not have passed upon. A company came in and wanted half of some of my companies for quite a big sum of money and half of a huge company they had just bought. But I did not want to give up any control over my business, so I declined. That was probably a mistake because this company had some great advisors who could grow their company significantly while I had none of it. My company did not grow, but I will never know where it could have gone if I accepted their offer.

The thing about control and always wanting to have it is that our ego is usually behind it. We are making most of our career choices, trying to satisfy and feed our egos, and they drive us to do more and be better. However, our egos also create a lot of problems. It can lead us to do many stupid things, or it can drive us to overwork ourselves until a point of complete exhaustion. And when you are met with other people with big egos on opposing sides, it usually never ends well.

Most of the best attorneys were driven by their egos to achieve their success, and they were like that from very early on in their lives. Driven law students begin at a top law school to make sure they get into a good law firm. When they leave their law schools and are in large law firms, they make sure to work harder than others, have better and bigger clients, and make the most money possible. However, with this approach, something gets pushed to the back in their lives. Sometimes it is their well-being, other times health, and in some cases, the feelings of their family. People in this position often base their self-worth on external values and signs of success, not realizing more aspects of a balanced life.

Unfortunately, I personally know many great and successful attorneys who were extremely driven but whose ego led them to end up very poorly situated. Either they drove themselves to health problems, divorces, substance abuse problems, or they got so scared of someone hurting their ego that they gave up.

None of these routes are good. It is important to keep your perspective. Let your ego drive you to work a lot and become the top person in your law firm or find any other successes you are seeking in your life. However, do not forget that there are other aspects to life as well.
 

Conclusions


Many attorneys and other people in the legal profession are driven by their big egos. However, those who are really successful and can have their achievements and status in their law firm while also having a happy life, family, hobbies, and other interests outside of it are always the ones who do not care what other attorneys think of them. They have their values and focus on what can benefit them and their law firm without seeking the approval of other people to feel good about themselves or wanting to have everything under control regardless of consequences.

See also:
 

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