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Perfection Breeds Insanity

Categories: Other, Blog

No one is perfect. We hear this all of the time, which is why it has become a cliché. It is true, but many people strive to be perfect. It simply is not possible, and is your idea of perfection the same as mine? I guarantee you it isn’t.

I know an attorney at another firm who is a perfectionist regarding the pleadings researched and drafted. By this I mean the number of times a draft pleading is revised is almost endless. By working this way, the attorney spends an immense amount of time on whatever pleading is being drafted. This ends up being bad on two levels. One, this attorney self-edits time, meaning that the entire time spent is not billed to the client, i.e. the client never will know how much work was done on the case. Second, all of us have important things to do, whether business or with family, that get lost in the shuffle when “extra” work is done that the client doesn’t know about and isn’t billed for. The idea of the perfect pleading also ignores the client’s budget because legal work, like many products or service, isn’t one size fits all.

What happens in the reality I just described is the attorney loses time to do other work and activities, thereby billing less, making less money and having less time for outside activities. At the same time, the client likely is billed more than they can afford. These types of issues are problematic. The time issue is obvious, but time also is impacted by the money issue.

Attorneys don’t like dealing with billing issues generally. True statement. Plus, any time spent dealing with billings issues, whether with a client or your partners, is more time spent not getting work done for paying clients. The client wants to know why the pleading cost so much and your partners want to know why the pleading cost so much. Your partners also will want to know the client’s expectations of cost and why isn’t the client paying for the work. Despite these issues, many attorneys do this over and over, and have done for many years.

This is an example of how perfection breeds insanity in the legal profession. The definition of insanity I am thinking of is: doing the exact same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Or maybe they don’t expect a different result, and they don’t know how to stop working in that manner. Either way it is insanity.

Whatever type of job, profession or industry you work in has an equivalent to this. Instead of perfection, try to deliver the best possible service or experience to achieve the client or customer’s objections while keeping their ability to pay and their budget in mind. Do this and you have the best chance to meet their expectations, get paid and not waste time dealing with the issues that come with doing too much. You will save yourself headaches by keeping these types of objectives in mind in your day-to-day work.

As always, this post and others can be found on my blog,  BusinessLawGuy'sBlog .  


About the author:Neal Bookspan is a partner at the Phoenix, Arizona law firm of Jaburg Wilk . He assists clients with business issues, commercial litigation, workouts and bankruptcy litigation. Neal can be reached at 602.248.1000