Called myself out in a bar

2017 10 10

I’m sitting in a bar in Palm Beach where I just had a conversation with a lovely young woman who claimed to be a writer but admitted she had no real reason not to be committing to her writing except she’s afraid to take the plunge.

I told her about what I’d been doing. I told her about meeting EJ and embarking on a voyage toward life without compromise. And in doing so I inadvertently insulted her, but I also condemned myself. Why am I still compromising so much?

I know the answer. It’s economic necessity. It’s temporary. I know my priorities, and I know that what I need to do to serve them is pay off my debts by practicing law, and that means doubling down on the current path for a known portion of the future.

Close your eyes and envision your fantasy life, the life motivated by happiness and not the life motivated by economic necessity. What does that life look like? I know the answer for me. I’m living on the road, with a partner, raising a child, practicing law winning cases and helping poor people while kayaking several days a week. What’s your answer?

Thing is, there are parts of my vision that are out of my control, but only parts. There’s nothing that I could do to forcibly find a partner, but the rest of the vision is firmly in my control. And I know exactly what I need to do to get there. I need to start marketing in places I want to go. I need to obtain a suitable van. And I need to pay off my debts, or at least enough of them to drop my monthly cost of living.

The path is clear. It’s simple. To get from here to there, I need to earn about $400,000 beyond my basic living expenses. That means that I need to win 100 full-fee cases if I’m still with Ramos, or 67 full fee cases on my own, or 200 with outside firms. I know my approximate win rate without screening – better than 50% on average, higher if I’m picky about cases, lower if I keep choosing to take tough case.

So I need to handle 140 cases on my own, or up to 400 with fee splits. Along the way, little things like per diems can help or they can waste time, depending on where the workload falls.

Interestingly, I believe that at “full capacity” I could reach this goal in as little as a year at an insane pace, five years at a diligent pace. There’s no reason it needs to take longer than that.

So this barside conversation reminded me of what I need to be doing. I need to be doing everything in my power to maximize my case load while making subtle changes to edge toward the ideal vision along the way. I need to start getting cases near rivers. And more of them. I need to detour some money into buying the RV. These are all simple things.

So what’s step one?

Commit.

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