Most of us strive to be successful and find satisfaction in our daily work. No matter the profession or career, an unhappy work environment adds grit to the gears of the daily grind.
Studies have shown that professional happiness is extremely important for productivity. I have noticed this in my own practice and some of my most productive days are when I’m feeling most positive.
Last week I had one of these days. Thanks to a wonderful client, I stopped to reflect on why we (bankruptcy lawyers) do what we do. I know it is not the most lucrative area of law, so it is not for the money.
I truly believe that bankruptcy lawyers develop a unique relationship with their clients and our clients are the measure of our success and satisfaction.
As a bankruptcy lawyer, I try to measure my success in two ways.
First, was I able to help my client get the fresh start they deserve?
As part of the fresh start, I strive to help discharge as much debt as possible. At the same time, with proper planning and use of exemptions, I want to make sure my clients retain their pre-petition assets when possible.
My second measure of success is more subjective. Was I able to relieve my client’s emotional burden?
I measure this from the first consultation and I feel it is part of my responsibility as a bankruptcy lawyer. I know that my office is the last place people want to be and I know the courage it takes to get there.
It is my duty to my clients to try to ease their stress by lifting the financial weight off their backs.
When a client leaves my office with the parting words, “I feel better already,” I know I am on my way to being successful.
While success helps breed satisfaction, it is not the ultimate factor. Satisfaction is more abstract and personal.
For me, satisfaction stems directly from my relationship with my client and their case more than the ultimate outcome.
I want to make sure that I am a hand holder through the entire bankruptcy process. I want to keep communication open and evolving. Finally, I want to make sure that my clients are comfortable and at ease throughout the bankruptcy process.
Bankruptcy can evoke strong feelings of dejection, failure and fear. I want to alleviate these negative emotions as much as possible.
If I can forge this bond with my clients and create some emotional stability during a troubling time, I am satisfied.
I know this post is slightly esoteric, but I was inspired and just had to share.
Last week, I attended a court hearing with a chapter 7 bankruptcy client who caused me to reflect on this topic.
Prior to the hearing, she thanked me.
I’m paraphrasing, but she went on to say that I had made a difficult time in her life a lot easier and it was comforting to her. As most debtors are, she was quite nervous prior to her hearing.
I told her to relax and we were satisfied.
To top it off, the trustee closed her case and we were a success!
Image courtesy of Grinapple (Flickr).