JW Way Fundamental #17: Be Relentless about Continuous Improvement
“Be a lifetime learner and continually invest in your own education, both formally and informally. Be curious and never stop improving your legal, technical, and personal skills. Embrace change. Look for a better way.”
The principles of “continuous improvement” and “lifetime learning” are embedded in the legal profession. We “practice” law. Practice implies trial, error and (one hopes) improvement. What we learned yesterday, one month ago, or one year ago, may no longer be the law. Accordingly, the very nature of the legal profession requires our firm to be a collection of lifetime learners and to seek continuous improvement in the practice of law.
We can learn passively from everyone, every situation, every day. Of course, we can learn from the Managing Partner, the Receptionist, the Equity Partner, the Records Clerk, the Non-Equity Partner, the Paralegal, the Associate, and the Legal Assistant. We can also, however, passively learn from:
- the eighty-five-year-old man who still opens the door for his wife of 65 years every day;
- the brokenhearted six-year-old whose Dad promised he would make her dance recital but didn’t show; or
- the way the couple next to us at a restaurant snipe at each other.
Not only can we learn passively every day from everyone and every situation we happen to encounter, we should also actively and continuously seek out ways to continually improve ourselves. We can all be a better employee, spouse, son or daughter, parent, sibling, parent, friend, role model, or mentor. We can do simple, little things every day, such as reading the paper, subscribing to daily bulletins in our practice area, reading a story to our kid every night, or interacting with our spouses and kids without a paper, phone, magazine, or screen on and in front of us. We can also, however, do hard, difficult things:
- we can go to AA meetings;
- we can spend a week away from our family and busy practice attending an all-week CLE to invest in our career; or
- we can admit we have a problem and attend anger management counseling.
At Jaburg Wilk we are fortunate enough to work at an employer that is concerned with more than the bottom line. Jaburg Wilk actively encourages us to constantly improve ourselves—both professionally and personally.
“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” Abraham Lincoln