Don't get us wrong. It's a fun thing to be recognized for what you've achieved in your career. Loren Brown was recently profiled in the Denver Business Journal as the winner of the DBJ 40 under 40 for 2015. Not only that, but Loren was recently made the next President of the Colorado Bar Association. And Cynthia Ciancio was the subject of a feature in Colorado Super Lawyers, where for the past three years she has been selected among the "Top 100" and "Top 50 Women" (2012-2015).
To be sure, this recognition is a cause for celebration, at least within the offices of Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C, but there's more to being a "40 under 40" or a "Top 100" than the ego boost and making us look good in front of clients. A clue comes out of one of Loren's quotes in the DBJ profile:
"Getting to get up in the morning and do what I enjoy every day ... is the key to success for me."
Here's what we mean: The legal profession tends to rank low for job satisfaction and high for stress. One reason could be that lawyers, according to the Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program, can have a hard time "turning off" the adversarial skills that they use in day-to-day practice. This and other aspects of law practice do affect personal health and interpersonal relationships. Lawyers who aren't well adjusted to the nature of law practice will have trouble enjoying their work; in turn, these are many of the unhappy lawyers you hear about.
That's why a lawyer who can get up in the morning and go do a job he or she loves is invaluable. It's the perfect example of the type of person who will ultimately thrive in the legal profession, as Loren and Cynthia have.
But here's the key.
The legal profession is fundamentally a service-oriented profession. You help people. You represent and advise them during some of the most difficult times of their lives. To enjoy this work is to enjoy helping people, to do all you can for them, to overcome significant obstacles and put in long hours to achieve clients' goals.
This is what leads to "40 under 40" and "Top 100." Nothing else. This recognition is not what motivates successful lawyers. It's simply a byproduct of the only approach to law practice that matters: a commitment to keeping the client's needs and goals front and center.