Nora Riva Bergman is a certified practice advisor at Atticus, a company that helps law firms with time management,...
Jared D. Correia, Esq. is the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business...
Is the way you practice law really working for you? Nora Riva Bergman, author of “50 Lessons for Lawyers: Earn More. Stress Less. Be Awesome.,” joins Jared Correia to discuss how her book helps lawyers make healthy mindset changes, prioritize wellbeing, and enjoy a fulfilling legal practice.
Nora Riva Bergman is a business coach and consultant at Real Life Practice.
The Legal Toolkit
Changing Lawyer Mindsets: How Mindfulness Helps You Practice Law Better
Intro: Welcome to Legal Toolkit bringing you the latest legal trends and business initiatives to help you manage your law firm with your host Jared Correia. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Jared Correia: Hello friends and welcome to another episode of the award-winning Legal Toolkit podcast, here on the Legal Talk Network.
If you are looking for advice on waiver wire pickups and your fantasy football league don’t ask me. I mean what do I know. I just won the Legal Talk Network fantasy football league last year, just saying.
If you’re a returning listener, welcome back. If you’re a first-time listener, hopefully you’ll become a longtime listener, and if you are Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins, it would be cool if you stopped running into walls.
As always, I’m your show host, Jared Correia, and in addition to casting this pod, I’m the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law practice management consulting services for law firms, bar associations and legal vendors. Check us out at redcavelegal.com.
I am also the COO of Gideon Software, Inc., which offers chatbots, a first-to-market chatbot builder and predictive analytics created specifically for law firms. Find out more at www.gideon.legal.
Because I don’t have enough to do, you can also listen to my other, other podcast; The Lobby List, a family travel show I host with my dear wife, Jessica, on iTunes. Subscribe, rate and comment.
But, here, on The Legal Toolkit, this podcast you are listening to right now, we provide you each month, twice each month I should say now with a new tool to add to your own legal toolkit, so that your practices will become more-and-more like best practices.
In this episode, we’re going to talk about how to think differently about your law practice.
But, before I introduce today’s guest, let’s take a moment to thank our sponsors.
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My guest today is Nora Riva Bergman, who is the Owner of Real Life Practice and a certified Atticus consultant. She has been a musician, attorney, mediator, law professor and bar executive, that’s a lot of stuff.
She’s also an in-demand presenter for legal organizations across the country.
Welcome to the big show Nora. How are you?
Nora Riva Bergman: I’m awesome. Thank you, Jared. It’s great to be here.
Jared Correia: Yes, this is exciting. So let’s jump in. Let’s do our icebreaker question first.
Nora Riva Bergman: All right.
Jared Correia: I already got on everybody’s Bios. I look for them on Google. I look at their Twitter accounts and I found out that you’ve been a guitar player for a really long time, you want to talk about that a little bit?
Nora Riva Bergman: Yeah, well let’s see. First of all thanks for having me here. It’s great to be on the show and you’re starting off with a question that’s one of my favorite questions, so, when I was a kid — when I was real little, we won’t go back to the day I was born or anything, but my mom was a piano player and singer.
And so when I was really young around four years old she started teaching me the piano, and about that same time the Beatles landed in the United States of America and I said, I don’t want to play piano, I will play the guitar. And my mom didn’t like that idea very much.
And by the time I was about 10, my mom and dad reliantly got me a guitar. I started playing guitar, played it all through high school, started writing songs back then, and actually worked as a professional musician from high school until I went to college.
I took about ten years off between high school and college to play and sing and write music and do that stuff. So that was my background and if you see me in my office I have a guitar that hangs on the wall of my office so that I can go and pick it up and play it as frequently as I possibly can, actually that’s one of the things we are going to talk about today in terms of how do you change your behavior.
So we’re going to talk about that a little bit about my guitar and why it’s hanging in my office.
Jared Correia: What if John Lennon had played piano like your whole history would have changed, right?
Nora Riva Bergman: Yeah, but here’s the thing. I was a big Paul McCartney fan and he played bass and I don’t play bass, but it was just like The Beatles. The Beatles were — my first memory of television as a kid was watching The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Jared Correia: Oh interesting, they are pretty good, right? I 00:05:07 The Beatles perform.
Nora Riva Bergman: Yeah, they are right. They —
Jared Correia: All right, so here is my follow-up question for you. So you are a McCartney person?
Nora Riva Bergman: Yeah.
Jared Correia: Who are your top three guitar players of all time; bass players, lead players, whoever, hit me.
Nora Riva Bergman: Okay. So top three. Number one is Les Paul, who was credited with actually creating or inventing the electric guitar as we know it today, tremendous, just tremendous guitarist.
Second would have to be a guy named Doc Watson who’s a flatpicker, a country display.
Jared Correia: He is great. Watson and Sprague, right, or did I hear that wrong, Sprague and Watson.
Nora Riva Bergman: No, you’re thinking on, wait a minute.
Jared Correia: I think it’s somebody else.
Nora Riva Bergman: Lesser flat, you are thinking, lesser flat 00:05:47.
Jared Correia: Oh, that’s what I was thinking about, yes, yes, yes.
Nora Riva Bergman: Yeah, Doc Watson play by himself, he was blind, he was born in North Carolina, on a place called Deep Gap, North Carolina, and he’s born as blind. He taught himself guitar and he is absolutely amazing guitarist. His son also learned to play guitar, his son Merle, he and Merle did a lot of albums together, and I was introduced to Doc Watson way back in the 70s when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band did this album, we’re getting way off topic here, Jared.
They did not recall well this —
Jared Correia: No, this is actually not off topic for us, trust me.
Nora Riva Bergman: Well, the circle be unbroken, like one of the best bluegrass albums of all time and that’s the first time I ever heard Doc Watson, totally turned me on to him.
So Les Paul, Doc Watson, I got to say, believe it or not, John Denver was a huge musical influence on me when I was learning to play because of his style and the guitar that I own is actually the same guitar that he used to play. I got my guitar in the 1970s and that’s the same guitar that he — not his guitar mind you, but the same model guitar.
I know you said three, but I’m going to actually give you five.
Jared Correia: Do it, do it.
Nora Riva Bergman: Mary Chapin Carpenter, who is a phenomenal singer-songwriter, I just love the way she plays, and this is not — the last one is not a one guitar player, but it’s a band, The Gipsy Kings, I absolutely love The Gipsy Kings and the way they play, very, very different style from the other artists that I mentioned, but I could go on.
Jared Correia: Hey, that’s a pretty good start. So if anybody wants more information about guitars and guitarists they can talk to you, right?
Nora Riva Bergman: Absolutely.
Jared Correia: As well as like all the consulting you do.
Nora Riva Bergman: Oh yeah, yeah, I talk to you about what I know which is not a lot, but that’s okay.
Jared Correia: That’s the first reference we’ve got into Deep Gap, North Carolina in this podcast. I didn’t even know such a place existed. So thank you for that.
I’m going to have to scroll down Wikipedia.
Nora Riva Bergman: I’m pretty sure it’s Deep Gap, you can fact check me on that, but I think I got that right.
Jared Correia: Everybody Google that. All right. I think we have broken the ice sufficiently. Let’s talk about your new book. Well actually you’ve got two books, this is a first book you wrote, and we’ll also talk about the second book, you have recently completed.
Nora Riva Bergman: Okay.
Book number one, ‘50 Lessons for Lawyers: Earn more. Stress less. Be awesome’, great title, right, being awesome is something that people want to be generally.
So, in this book, you’re talking about how attorneys can think differently about practicing law, so like in my experience lawyers have a really difficult time like changing their mindsets, is that particularly difficult for lawyers or do you think this is a professional hazard for anybody who runs a business?
Nora Riva Bergman: I think it’s a hazard for us as human beings first of all.
Jared Correia: Fair.
Nora Riva Bergman: So, so all of us have difficulty changing, I will use the word mindset, it’s not easy to change your mindset, it’s not easy to change your behavior.
I think it might be more particularly difficult for lawyers simply because of the profession itself, the profession is steeped in precedent. The profession as you know in your work I’m sure it’s not quick to change, not quick to adopt new ideas and actually fights back with all its might against some ideas that have been around in the business community for decades.
So part of it I think is a challenge for lawyers and I think one of the biggest challenges for my clients that I’ve worked with over the years with respect to that mindset question Jared is distinguishing between what it means to be a lawyer and the substantive practice of law and what it means to be a person who runs a law practice, the business owner, being able to shift between those two hats, it’s not easy, but if you want to be a successful lawyer regardless in my opinion of whether you own your own practice today or whether you’re a lawyer who works within a firm, being able to distinguish between substantive practice of law, I just clapped my hand if you heard that, substantive practice of law on the one hand and running the business on the other.
Jared Correia: Yeah, you clapped your hands if you want, like emphasize.
Nora Riva Bergman: Very right. Clap, clap your hands.
Jared Correia: That’s totally going to be audible. But yeah, no, I think it’s interesting that you make that point about the dichotomy and I think it’s totally true, like substantive versus business management lawyer, right?
And lawyers are much, much, much more comfortable in the substitute role because it’s what they are familiar with, it’s what they’ve learned. So yeah I think you’re right like it’s very hard for lawyers to change their behavior. So now, are you ready for the $60,000 question which is how do lawyers change their behavior or begin to change their behaviors?
Nora Riva Bergman: Well, first I’ll say it’s different for everyone. So when you say how do you begin, you begin with self-awareness, you begin by just knowing yourself and knowing that you want to make some changes perhaps to how you work, how you think about the business side and the and the practice side.
By the way, just kind of as an aside on that, that distinction between substantive practice and business owner I first really got that distinction when I read a book that’s years old now it’s called The E-Myth and that stands for Entrepreneurial Myth Revisited by a guy named Michael Gerber and he uses the term technician.
Most lawyers want to be a technician, they want to do law, they want to practice law but if you’re going to have your own business, you have to be both a technician and you have to be the entrepreneur as well kind of at the same time. So when you talk about how do you begin to change your behavior, you begin simply by having the self-awareness that there’s something about the way I’m practicing that is not working for me, that I want to improve upon for both myself, my firm and my clients, identify it and get very specific about what you want to change.
So that’s — number one is self-awareness, number two is getting very specific about what you want to change and number three is taking small steps toward that behavioral change. Very often when we decide we want to change something and I’m just going to talk globally here not just about lawyers, you can put it in the context of the law firm.
But when we decide we want to make a change in our lives, very often we go in a 110% percent. If we want to get fit, we decide I’m going to go to the gym every morning at 6 o’clock, five days a week and I don’t know about you and your listeners but when I’ve tried to do that it doesn’t work. You can do it for a few days perhaps but the reality is that our brains rebel against that kind of massive change, they don’t like it and they’re going to come up with — your brain is going to come up lots of reasons why that’s not going to work for you and it’s going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So when we want to change, the most effective way to do it is to do it in really small, almost imperceptible steps sometimes that kind of trick your brain to establish a new normal for you. So I mentioned having the guitar hanging in my office. There’s a concept that I read about in the book called the Happiness Advantage by a man named Shawn Achor. The books I have just mentioned by the way are mentioned in my book that you just referenced 50 Lessons for Lawyers.
Shawn Achor talks about something called 30-second rule. So if you want to change your behavior and we can get into specifics a little bit later, make it as easy as you possibly can. So if I want to play the guitar more than once a month, I hang it on my office wall so that whenever I have a break I can turn around and pick up my guitar and play it.
Make those behavioral changes, those small little changes as easy for you to accomplish as you possibly can. So self-awareness, be specific and don’t be afraid to take small steps. Small steps are what get you to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. You don’t jump to the top.
Jared Correia: That’s pretty good. I like that as a rundown. I think that’s important for lawyers who like and I think everybody wants to make these wholesale changes right, but 6 a.m. at the gym not feeling that. All right.
Nora Riva Bergman: I have tried it, didn’t work for me.
Jared Correia: So in terms of changing behavior like we talked about how to do it or at least how to get started. So what are the most important areas lawyers specifically need to look at that will have the most positive effect on their law practice including behaviors that they should change.
Nora Riva Bergman: That is a great question and I’m going to answer it like a lawyer. It depends.
Jared Correia: As you feel.
Nora Riva Bergman: It is different for every person, there is not one answer that I can give you Jared that would apply to every person because everybody’s different. Just like I said, with respect to our first topic there, have the self-awareness to know what you want to change and then get really specific about it.
In terms of changing behavior there’s no one thing that would make all lawyers more effective. I think you have to know what it is for you and usually it is around — it’s not so much on the substantive side of things right. It’s on the personal behavioral side of things where you’re going to want to make a change.
Nora Riva Bergman: I use an assessment called disk with all of my clients. I consider it really a foundational tool for self-awareness. You can read about it online and there are other types of resources but I think taking some type of an assessment that’s going to help you understand yourself better. It’s going to help you determine what you want to change about yourself.
Jared Correia: So you’re not talking about one of these like quizzes where I figure out which house I’m in Harry Potter, right, this is like an actual assessment. Just to be clear.
Nora Riva Bergman: No, yeah it’s an actual assessment.
Jared Correia: All right. So this is a good start. I want to jump into some other topics with Nora next including mindfulness but we’re going to take our first break and part two will soon be upon us. But for right now here are some of the things that you should buy.
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Jared Correia: Hey thanks for sticking around everybody. Now that I found my 15-year-old Adidas sandals with no tread left. I love summertime. Let’s get back to our talk with Nora Riva Bergman of Real Life Practice.
We’re here talking about changing lawyer mindsets. You know just the simple stuff like that, so let’s keep on this topic and discuss this idea of mindfulness, which you hear spoken of a lot in certain circles in legal. I don’t know how much it’s trickled down to like the average solo or small firm practitioner but you’re an advocate of mindfulness. So can you talk to folks a little bit about what that means?
Nora Riva Bergman: Yeah. I am an advocate of mindfulness from my own personal experience with it. Let me just say as kind of an overview. When we talk about mindfulness, for the lawyers that I talked with about it an easy way to kind of think about mindfulness is to think of it as actually training your brain. We can use mindfulness meditation as a way to actually change the neural pathways in our brain, to change the structure of our brain, to not only help us reap the benefits that most folks have probably read about or heard about, less stress, better health, sleeping better, all of those physical and psychological benefits to our health but for lawyers, mindfulness training can help us think better.
It can help us improve our cognitive skills, it can help us improve our focus which is a challenge for all of us nowadays. All of those things that really impact our work both as the technician, the substantive lawyer and the business owner, so let me just say I have never taken a formal course in meditation, I’ve never taken a formal course in mindfulness, I’ve never done a mindfulness retreat although I would like to. Everything that I have learned about mindfulness I have learned through my own reading and research and actually practicing mindfulness.
There are a lot of definitions out there about what mindfulness is, one of my favorites is actually from the University of California at Berkeley and I just want to read it to you. They define mindfulness at their Institute as mindfulness means “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment through a gentle and nurturing lens”.
To that I would add being non-judgmental about the thoughts that are floating through our head, we all have a tendency to want to label things as good or bad, or right or wrong and mindfulness asks us not to do that but just to kind of pay attention to them.
Now when I talk to my clients and others about mindfulness, other lawyers about mindfulness very often I’ll hear well I can’t do that. I cannot stop my thoughts but mindfulness is not about stopping thoughts. I want to be super clear about that, it’s about noticing thoughts.
Somebody once said, being really bad at meditating actually makes you really good at meditating, because all of us when we sit down to train our brain, to practice mindfulness, to meditate, have thoughts going through our head, that happens.
What mindfulness asks us to do is just notice them, notice the thought and let it go and come back to what you’re thinking or what you’re focused on I should say. So very often in a mindfulness practice you will hear the teacher ask you to focus on your breath, your breath is always with you, it’s there, it’s something that’s happening in your body in the moment, in the present moment that you can focus on.
Other thoughts are going to come into your head, that’s okay. When you notice that thought, you come back to your breath. So it’s noticing the thought that’s the important part of mindfulness. I like to use the analogy of driving your car. When you’re driving your car you’re focused on driving. While you’re driving, there are other cars coming at you and you notice those cars but you don’t lock on to that car that’s driving towards you and stare at it and watch it as it passes by you and continue to look at it as it drives down the street behind you. At least, I hope you don’t do that when you’re driving.
But with our thoughts that’s what happens to us sometimes. We get a thought and then we get so caught up in that thought, we are staring at that thought as it passes us by and latch onto it.
So mindfulness is about being able to focus, training our brains to focus on that which we want to be focused on at any point in time and I think that’s a very valuable skill for lawyers to have.
Jared Correia: Yeah that’s cool. So I once tried hot yoga as a form of meditation and it was just terrible. I almost died.
Nora Riva Bergman: Was it hot?
Jared Correia: It was really hot, hotter than I expected.
Nora Riva Bergman: I’ve never done hot yoga.
Jared Correia: Save yourself.
Nora Riva Bergman: I’ve never done any yoga as a matter of fact.
Jared Correia: Good for you.
Nora Riva Bergman: Although that’s another — that’s another form of mindfulness of meditation.
Jared Correia: But I had such a painful experience with it, I don’t want to talk about it anymore, go ahead sorry.
Nora Riva Bergman: Okay. I am not going to ask you any questions about it. But can I — I want to add one other thing about the whole meditation concept because I really, I think it’s so important for lawyers to kind of get this and I just want to talk a little bit about our brains and again, I’ve not taken courses in this.
This is what I have learned simply by reading literature that is available to any of us. There’s a fabulous audio book as a matter of fact called ‘Meditations to Change Your Brain’, which is written by a neuroscientist and a psychiatrist, it’s fascinating. But we have in our brains two different networks essentially.
We have a network that’s called the Narrative Network, some people refer to it as the Default Network, that’s where we spend most of our time in our brain and that network is the network that allows us to think about the past, sometimes ruminate on the past. It’s the network that allows us to think ahead, to plan for the future or perhaps to worry about things that are maybe never going to happen to us; that network is called the Default Network, because that is where our brains typically reside.
The other network in our brain is a network of present moment awareness where we are thinking and focusing on that which is happening at this very moment. We spend very little time in that particular network of our brain. If we’re really focused on something that demands our full attention we may be spending time there, but it’s usually by happenstance.
What meditation asks us to do is to work on that present moment awareness network by focusing on something that is happening in the present moment like our breathing and noticing, just noticing when we think of something else. It is in that moment, I’m going to — I was tempted to clap my hands again, but it is in that moment where you notice.
I’m not thinking about or focused on. I didn’t want to use the word thinking, I’m not focused on, I had my attention placed on that item that I wanted to be placed on. I’m thinking about something else and I’m going to come back to this present moment and focus on my breath, it’s in that moment, in that what some people would consider a failure of meditation because you’re having a thought. No, no, no, no, the thoughts come and go, notice them and come back to your present moment awareness.
The more you do that, the more you can — more time you can spend in the present moment which research has shown helps us to reap the benefits of stress reduction and all the other health benefits that come with meditation.
At the same time, it allows you to strengthen that part of your brain that allows you to notice when you’re focused on something you don’t want to be focused on or distracted by something that you don’t want to be distracted by, which I think is an incredibly powerful tool for everyone especially lawyers, especially anybody that wants to change their behavior.
Jared Correia: Yeah, that’s cool. I mean the volume of books you read is very impressive to me. I read Peppa Pig’s Christmas last night, it was truly delightful.
Nora Riva Bergman: Never read that. I got to put that on my list.
Jared Correia: It’s a good one. I will send you a copy.
Nora Riva Bergman: Please.
Jared Correia: So let’s kind of extend this topic a little bit to this notion of self-care, right, because that’s part of what mindfulness is all about. Like lawyers are generally really bad at self-care. So how can lawyers take better care of themselves aside from like mindfulness, which I think is a great way to kind of step up their game in that respect.
Nora Riva Bergman: Yeah. Another topic that I’m really passionate about, is just generally taking care of ourselves, then let me just close that mindfulness loop by saying that you can get benefits from practicing mindfulness or mindfulness training in as little as five minutes or less a day.
You don’t have to take on a half an hour or an hour or anything like that, start small, just like I said at the top, you know if you want to make a change, make an incrementally small little change, maybe that’s just two minutes, maybe it’s two minutes a day that you say okay, I’m going to practice mindfulness, I’m going to get one of the many apps that are out there and maybe do a guided meditation, something just start, just start, don’t be intimidated and maybe it’s thirty seconds for you, honest-to-goodness, anything is better than nothing.
And then consistency, 30 seconds a day, every day of the week is probably going to be better than an hour one day a week. So self-care, another really great topic. You mentioned my second book, the second book in ‘50 Lessons for Lawyers’ which is going to be a series, is ‘50 Lessons for Women Lawyers – From Women Lawyers’, that book was just released in May of this year.
I only wrote one of those lessons by the way. The other 49 lessons in that book were written by other practicing attorneys, we have law school faculty, we have several judges who’ve written lessons for us, entrepreneurs, other coaches, a very diverse group of women from public and private practice and all different.
Jared Correia: That sounds like the best way to write a book is to have other people write it for you. Well done.
Nora Riva Bergman: Thank you, awesome. They just — the contributors are amazing and this question reminds me of one specific lesson in that book, there are several that kind of focus on the topic of self-care and wellness, but one of the lessons is entitled the Power of Putting Yourself First and it takes this idea that apparently floats around in the fitness world that we are all worth 4% of our day, 4% of a 24-hour day is one hour. So if you spend 4% of your day just on you, that is one hour out of your day and that’s what this particular contributor advocates, I think it would be an awesome goal to aspire to. We are worth 4% of our day.
And let me take your question if I can Jared and kind of focus it in on the practice, when you’re at work during the day, what are some things that you can do to take care of yourself during work, not only make yourself healthier but actually again, help your brain be more effective for the work that you’re doing.
So the number one thing that I would recommend to lawyers is to take breaks throughout the day. Our brains are at their best when we’re giving them a break and actually 90 minutes is about the maximum amount of time that I would ask any of my clients to work uninterrupted and that’s the second thing that I would recommend, to build into your day time when you can work in a focused way where you’re not dealing with interruptions, turn off your phone, turn off your email, focus on what you need to get done.
But don’t do that for longer than 90 minutes, take a break at least every 90 minutes and by taking a break, I mean stand up, stretch, I actually keep some free weights in my office if you want to do a couple of curls or lifts or stretches or something, have a glass of water, look out the window, give yourself a minute.
If you want to watch a funny video on YouTube or do something online, do it. Again, there’s a lot of research antithetical to the way lawyers practice law that tells us that when our brains are in a positive mindset, feel good, feel happy, we’re going to think better, we’re going to be more creative, we’re going to have the ability to come up with better solutions for our clients if we’re in a positive mindset.
So take breaks, create focus time for yourself and then away from the office unplug to the extent that you can – we live in a 24/7 culture, which is really not healthy for anybody, everybody needs to be able to unplug and step away from the practice.
Jared Correia: Very nice. All right, that’s a perfect segue. Let us unplug for a moment while we take our second break. I’m going to practice running my next 0.5K, in the meantime listen to these words from our sponsors.
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Jared Correia: All right everybody, thanks for coming back. We are at part three, the last part of our program. So let’s continue our conversation with Nora Riva Bergman of Real Life Practice, who is talking to us about how lawyers can think different. Let’s find out more. All right, Nora, let’s do some quick hitters at the end of the show here. So I got three different styles of question for you.
Nora Riva Bergman: Okay.
Jared Correia: So what’s your best marketing tip for lawyers who want to think differently about their practice?
Nora Riva Bergman: A tip, well a concept would be relationships are everything, okay. So my tip would be again, do one thing every single day that helps you market your practice or move your practice forward, at least one thing. Remember, I like this idea of starting small, ideally I’d have you do three things.
Focus on three things that you can do to either market your practice or to move your practice forward in some way. Marketing your practice might be picking up the phone, calling a former client, calling a colleague, going out to lunch, having coffee, taking a walk with somebody, going to LinkedIn and posting an update, sharing some knowledge with people across social networks, all of that is going to go to marketing and building relationships. At least once a day, ideally three times a day, it doesn’t have to be a tremendous time investment but you got to do it consistently, consistency is key.
Jared Correia: It’s pretty good. You wrapped up like several concepts into one tip. Let’s see if you can do it again. Here’s my next question. What’s your best time management tip for lawyers who want to think differently about their practice? I know you talked about this a little bit with power hours and stuff like that, but let’s do something else.
Nora Riva Bergman: Okay, well I got to come back to that because that really is important. Focus time is super, super, super important. The other thing that I would suggest is to the extent that you can, I talked about this in one of the lessons in my first book, limit then — this comes back to interruptions, but this also touches on your staff. Limit the number of interruptions that you get from your team and the people that work with you during the day, by giving them access to you at specific times during the day either in-person during stand-up meetings that I call Huddles or time that’s allocated to address their questions via chat or whatever you might be using within the office.
Jared Correia: Hey, you are doing really well in this lightning round. I’m impressed, kudos to you. Last question, how can lawyers who want to reform the way they practice be better listeners?
Nora Riva Bergman: Ah, okay. So fabulous question, and listening is something that we all can do better at. I have a quote on my desk that has been on my desk for like 15 years from Maya Angelou that says, “I am doing my best to live what I teach”, so I’m always working on my listening skills.
So for lawyers, listening – listen, just listen. When you’re listening to someone, listen to understand what they are saying. Stephen Covey had an entire, one of his ‘7 Habits of Highly Successful People’, was all around listening. Listen first to understand. Lawyers are taught and it is drilled into them, to listen so that you can respond. So when you’re listening to an argument being made in Court and you’re preparing your response, that’s fantastic, that’s great advocacy.
When you are not in the courtroom, listen to someone so that you can hear what they’re saying and to be understood, not to be preparing your answer to what they’re asking you or what they’re talking about and then listen completely. Do not multitask when you are listening to someone. Don’t look at your phone, if you’re a lawyer and you’re standing in your office and someone comes in to talk to you don’t look at your computer and say, I’m just — I’m listening to you but you are really not listening to them, you’re looking at something else, don’t do that. Give someone your full attention when you’re listening to them.
And then practice, practice and one of the best kind of hacks that I got or tips that I got about how to improve listening came from another one of my favorite authors who’s a man named Marshall Goldsmith. He wrote a book called ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There’, one of my favorite leadership books, and he talks about listening and suggests that you just practice counting to 10. This really almost comes back to the idea of mindfulness and focusing on what you want to focus on.
Practice counting to 10 in your own mind and be able to do that without being distracted. The more that you can count to 10, just to practice being quiet and focus the better your listening is going to be.
Jared Correia: You put a nifty bow on this Nora, thank you. And so, I have some sad news, we’ve reached the end of yet another episode of The Legal Toolkit Podcast. This was the podcast about thinking differently in your law practice and we’ve been talking with walking library, Nora Riva Bergman of Real Life Practice.
Now, I will be back on future shows with further insights into my soul, the Soul of America and the legal market. If you are feeling nostalgic for my dulcet tones however, you can check out our entire show archive anytime you want at legaltalknetwork.com.
So, thanks again to Nora Riva Bergman of Real Life Practice for making an appearance as my guest today.
All right Nora, can you tell everybody how they can find out more about you and about Real Life Practice and also about the books you have written.
Nora Riva Bergman: Okay the easiest thing to do if you’d like to reach out to me and I’d love to hear from all of your listeners. I am the only Nora Riva Bergman on the internet that I’ve ever found. So if you Google my name, you’ll find everything about me. I’m on Twitter @LawFirmCoach, I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, all of those things. My own website Real Life Practice is there, but you’ll find lots of ways to connect with me.
Oh, and I just have to say, the second book ‘50 Lessons for Women Lawyers’ has its own website and for anybody that’s listening that is interested in that book or would like to read excerpts from all 50 of the lessons and meet the contributors, they can go to 50lessonsforwomenlawyers.com, read excerpts from the lessons there, meet the contributors there, join our community there, we’d love to have you.
In many of those lessons although written for women lawyers are applicable to all of us; men and women alike.
Jared Correia: Very nice. So Nora is easy to find everybody. Check her out. So I will say thanks again to Nora Riva Bergman of Real Life Practice. This has been a lot of fun.
Finally, thanks to all of you out there for continuing to listen. This has been the Legal Toolkit Podcast where every time is miller time.
Outro: Thanks for listening to Legal Toolkit, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join host Jared Correia for his next podcast covering the current business trends for law firms.
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The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
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