St. Thomas More
(Patron Saint of Lawyers) (1478 – 1535)
The more things change, the more they stay the same (no punn intended). We can learn alot about the modern practice of law from our Patron Saint Sir Thomas More (Beatified1886, Rome by Pope Leo XIII).
Nowadays most solo lawyers and lawyers who own small law firms tend to feel isolated. Maybe it’s because they don’t realize that throughout history solo lawyers have always been and for reasons discussed below I believe always will be in the vast majority of lawyers in the World. Certainly that has been the case here in the U.S.
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Our patron saint was born in London, on February 7 1478, He was the eldest son of a successful lawyer and educated first at St Anthony’s School, then considered one of the finest schools in London, and later spent the years 1490 to 1492 as a page in the household service of John Morton, the Archbishop of Canterbury and lord Chancellor of England. Morton was an enthusiastic supporter of the ‘New Learning’ of the Renaissance, and thought highly of the young More. Believing that More showed great potential, Morton nominated him for a place at Canterbury College, Oxford, where More began his studies in 1492 and became proficient in both Greek and Latin. He left Oxford in 1494, after only two years at the insistence of his father, to begin his legal training in London at the New Inn, one of the Inns of Chancery. In 1496 he became a student at Lincoln’s Inn, one of the Inns of Court, where he remained until 1502, when he was called to the bar
Interesting isn’t it?
Five hundred and fifty years separate us from Thomas More and yet his path to becoming a lawyer is remarkably-similar to the path so many the rest of us followed.
Let’s see what other similarities there may be. . .
More once seriously contemplated abandoning his legal career in order to become a monk and although he deeply admired the piety of the monks, he ultimately decided on the life of a layman upon his marriage and election to Parliament in 1504.
Lots of lawyers today struggled with other career opportunities and the path not taken haunts most lawyers I know. Like More we also tend to bring with us to our profession a sense of a higher calling, don’t we?
Despite of his choice to pursue a secular career, More continued to observe certain ascetical practices for the rest of his life, including occasionally engaging in flagellation (1) & (2).
I’ve already written extensively about the “Doctrine of Sacrifice” which has seeped into our profession and how it has lawyers (mistakenly) believing that sacrificing your happiness is an inherent and noble part of “serving” clients. This way of thinking turns you into the servant and clients into your masters – and adds insult to the injury by saying you should find happiness in the sacrifice!
Gee, imagine that! Our Patron Saint was given to self-punishment as a form of religious obedience. And nowadays lawyers go around taking pride in how MANY hours they work for their law firms seemingly oblivious to the self-destructive nature of selling hours when our clients and our families would much prefer us to deliver results efficiently and get home in time to enjoy our lives.
Yes, in fact, most lawyers DO have a big hole in our education when it comes to the practical realities of law firm marketing and even worse when it comes to law office management.
But the BIGGER PROBLEM, I eventually realized years-ago, which prevents so many otherwise-capable and intelligent lawyers from taking the tools I gave them and using those tools to make big improvements in terms of revenues and personal and professional satisfaction, was that they were not-yet ready to believe that they DESERVED to be happy.
Sadly for them, the fact of the matter is that most lawyers are not-yet-ready to let-go of this old familiar pain. Notwithstanding the fact that it leads to too many days spent worrying about cash flow, too many hours of self-sacrifice in the office, and service to clients and on cases that those lawyers don’t have any passion for.
Instead, with the right law firm marketing and law office management skills you don’t have to choose between happiness, cash flow, or the ethical practice of law. You really can have all three. In point of fact, notwithstanding the example set for us by our Patron Saint, for hundreds of years lawyers have been learning, improving-upon and enjoying the benefits of professional, ethical and profitable law firm marketing & law practice management skills, tools & techniques.
And you know what? If you strip-away all the technology what worked hundreds of years ago for the lawyers who came before us is STILL working for those of us who take it upon ourselves to learn How To Manage A Small Law Firm.
Right now, but for only a little while longer you can learn how to master a critical law practice management skill that can contribute to more professional , ethical and more profitable law firm marketing too. Or it can feel like self-flagellation and turn what SHOULD be a profitable law firm management tool into an instrument of intimidation and torture.
Visit www.LawyerControl.com right now and register to watch the FREE training “A Simple System For Managing A Law Firm Client Property Trust Account That WON’T Make You Feel Like A Schmuck”.
I certainly have no ambitions of being Canonized as the next Patron Saint of my fellow lawyers.
But I am on a mission to combat the Doctrine of Sacrifice and help all my fellow lawyers experience for themselves that Happy Lawyers Really Do Make MORE Money.(this time the punn was intended 🙂
(1) Rebhorn, Wayne A, editor. Utopia. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics. 2005. Introduction, pg xxi
(2) The Flagellation refers in a Christian context to the Flagellation of Christ, an episode in the Passion of Christ prior to the Jesus’ crucifixion. The practice of mortification of the flesh for religious purposes was utilized by some Christians throughout most of Christian history, especially in Catholic monasteries and convents.some Christians throughout most of Christian history, especially in Catholic monasteries and convents.