About Allison C. Shields
How I Got Started Preventing Lawyer Meltdown
The way most lawyers practice law is killing them.
The current state of the legal profession – the billable hour model, pressure to work ever longer and harder and increased competition – all work against not only the best interests of lawyers themselves, but also against the best interests of their clients.
I started Legal Ease Consulting, Inc. to prevent the defection of good lawyers from the profession and to help lawyers rediscover their reasons for going into law in the first place. Just because law is a serious profession doesn’t mean lawyers can’t enjoy themselves in the process.
Click here to hear an excerpt from a radio interview which explains a little bit about who I am and what I do.
I’ve been a victim of lawyer meltdown myself. As a practicing lawyer and law firm manager, I’ve experienced that feeling of complete overwhelm, of not knowing where to start or how to ‘dig out.’
I like lawyers, and I hate to see so many good lawyers either leaving the profession or suffering every day and being miserable as lawyers. My dad was a teacher and a school administrator, and I learned a lot from him. I thought I would end up being either a teacher or a writer. Now I’m using those skills to help my clients re-discover their vision and passion for law, define their goals and devise systems and strategies for reaching those goals.
I’ve been a practicing lawyer for 12 years. I have experience working in both small and mid-sized law firms. I know the unique challenges faced by lawyers in managing and marketing their practices, and the restrictions they face, which aren’t present in other businesses.
As the Administrative Partner of a mid-sized law firm, I dealt with personnel issues, billing, fees, morale, performance evaluations, cash flow, accounts receivable, and profitability issues, among others. I’m sensitive to the demands of running a practice while practicing law.
I’ve spearheaded marketing efforts and contended with the issues involved in marketing a practice and struggled with differentiating a firm in what appeared to be a sea of similar practices in my area.
As an entrepreneur, I’m aware of the burdens involved in dealing with the ‘three headed monster’ of the competing demands of administrative, marketing, and client tasks that require attention. I know all too well the difficulties involved and the feeling of overwhelm when you feel as if you’re the only one that can accomplish particular tasks.
From law student to lawyers’ champion
It all started during my third year of law school. While a student at Fordham Law, during that horrible time when we’re supposed to decide where we’re going to work after school, I had a conversation with a prominent professor who went on to be a law school dean.
This professor told me, essentially, that I was ‘supposed to’ go to work for a big firm and realize one morning as the sun was coming up outside of my office window (having not been home all night) that this wasn’t how I wanted my career to be, and that it was time to move on.
But I already knew that I didn’t want to live that kind of life. I wanted to work in a challenging environment with colleagues and clients I enjoyed, while still being able to pursue activities outside of the law and spend time with friends and family.
Nobody that has ever worked with me would say that I’m not dedicated and hard-working. In fact, I’ve had to re-learn my own lesson over and over throughout my legal career – to be a great lawyer, you’ve got to be a whole and complete person – and to be a whole and complete person, you’ve got to have a life outside of work.
To help others (and law is truly a helping profession), you’ve got to fill your own well first – not just financially, but emotionally and creatively, too. And your efforts have got to be focused on your purpose.
At my last firm, where I spent 8 years, I instantly felt like I was ‘home.’ The atmosphere was energizing, and I loved every day that I worked there and the people I worked with. In addition to handing the usual ‘lawyerly’ tasks, I became more and more involved with management, administration, and marketing at the firm.
And the more involved I became, the more ‘turned on’ I got about working with others in the firm, trying to move the firm to the next level, finding ways to serve clients better, creating systems that would make us more effective, and thinking of new ways to reach out to prospective clients. The more involved I got in law practice management and marketing, the more I read about them – both in the legal world and in the business world in general.
Eventually I realized that what I really wanted to do was to help lawyers prevent or overcome what I call “lawyer meltdown.” Now my clients get the benefit of all of that reading and of my experience walking a mile in their shoes and the shoes of clients just like them, both as a lawyer and as a law firm manager.
For more information about my background, see my biography.
Click here to read an article about Allison and Legal Ease that appeared in Long Island Business News, December 2005.
To find out more about the clients I work with, please see Who I Help.
Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices
P.S. Found a mistake or a bug? If there’s anything that bothers you about this site, I want to know! Send me an email at Allison@LegalEaseConsulting.com. I want this site to be not just a resource, but a refuge for lawyers. I want you to be comfortable here. So if there’s something that bothers you, please tell me!