We continue our conversation with Lee Holland, Esq. about his journey through personal and professional crisis. (You can read Part 1 here).
LCL: In your transition from a high pressure large firm job to working for yourself and being a stay-at-home father, were there any difficult aspects of that transition? If so, how did you handle them?
LH: The transition was difficult in ways that were unexpected, and also challenging in more readily apparent ways. For instance, I knew it would be a challenge to balance being a solo and simultaneously be a fully engaged father available to my children during the school/work week, but I had decided that the latter needed to be part of my life, and the former would just have to adapt. I am grateful for clients who are understanding. With advance planning, most if not all of the sorts of scheduling challenges I had envisioned can be easily managed. Good communication and honesty with self and clientele has earned me the ability to raise conflicts with clients in a way that we are able to work around. The discussions that led me to have this chemistry with my clients pay repeated dividends throughout the representation. I believe that my clients respect me all the more for my decisions to achieve a personal/work balance that permits so much family time. They know my time is valuable beyond the financial, as is theirs. They can sense that I know and respect the value of their time as well.
The biggest unexpected challenge has been developing routines that take me out of my local environment and into the city. Since my practice is easily run from any location, I have struggled to carve out the time to make the trip into the city. Combatting this, I have been re-establishing connections with former colleagues, alumni, and other contacts in the law, hoping to structure “city days” for a variety of purposes: (1) professional “social calls”; (2) networking/business development (usually only if it’s already on the agenda); (3) professional service opportunities (MBA, LOMAP, etc.). These areas not only overlap with my development goals, but they are useful catalysts for guiding myself into the new routines I have identified as necessary for my firm’s success and my continued professional growth. Success in these areas will increase my overall happiness by allowing me to allocate my time and money resources more consciously in my day-to-day life.
LCL: Starting a new firm is rather risky. Were you concerned about taking on the risk and stress of a start-up enterprise after so recently dealing with three significant life crises? Why was this risk worth it to you?
LH: The risks were many, and the consequences great. I knew in 2010 and continue to believe today that going solo and continuing to practice law to help clients whom I truly care about both were integral to my happiness plan. I needed the best income I could get for the time I had to offer, along with a flexible schedule, and none of that mattered if the job wouldn’t also bring me professional satisfaction. The income I have made over the past 4 years has been comparatively inconsistent to my former salaried positions, but successes to date in solo practice have been helpful reminders that, indeed, I can do this! I am averaging about 80% of my former salary, and do realize that for 3 of the past 4 years I have had scant advertising in place, and a rudimentary website. Updates took place in 2014. We shall see, but if I can increase growth on this new foundation – which is happening, as 1-2 new solid prospective cases come in each month – I will be able to maintain my current situation. Looking back, despite inconsistencies and room for improvement in many areas, I am satisfied with my life today. I am happy and eager to work for my clients as their voice against the Goliath of Wall St. I invite people to visit my website (www.law-holland.com) if they are interested in more information about my practice. I welcome any referrals, but am also happy to engage in conversation with the public, other practitioners, media, politicians. I am open to making this world a better place, however that may be achieved. Meaningful, candid conversations often are the touchstone for launching a mutually beneficial trajectory.
My professional happiness comes from seeing progress as I am engaged in trying to make the world better for myself, my family, and the rest of humanity. Though risks remain, I am satisfied with the risks I perceive and optimistic that I will succeed, in life and in my practice.
Lee Holland, Esq. interviewed by Shawn Healy, Ph.D.