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Simply put, greed is a motivating factor for many attorneys out there.
So many lawyers out there don't have to put in those extra hours every day, or every now and again, but they do, because, hey, extra money is a good thing. Though for those lawyers who are still paying off insurmountable debt, the concept of extra money is unfathomable and every dollar helps.
But as it stands, greed is pretty much an instinct that we have, and one that the mental health industry seems to shy away from. Don't worry, it's not just lawyers, business folk generally suffer greed too. But according to a Harvard Business Review report from over 15 years ago that still stands the test of time, harnessing your greed for good is the way to go.
Greed Gets Things Done
Money is a big motivator. It's just that easy. Have a problem? Have money? You can probably buy a solution. And as a lawyer, you are uniquely positioned to make money by helping to resolve people's legal problems for money.
For an attorney to make more money, generally, it requires taking on more work. And by the very nature of a lawyer's work (that clients don't want it to drag it on forever), lawyers actually tend to get things done, eventually. Disputes get resolved, documents get drafted, and businesses get compliant. So long as you're harnessing your greed to just work more rather than to cheat or scam people, then there's no problem with being a bit greedy.
Focus on Clients That Pay
While you may owe your clients a duty to diligently pursue their cases, there's a big difference between paying clients and those other ones when it comes to prioritizing the workload. After all, making money is necessary, and paying clients might not be more important, in theory, but you have to take care of yourself to care of your clients, and that might mean providing more personal and more responsive service to those clients that keep your coffers well-coiffed.
The 80/20 rule is much easier for attorneys who have a hybrid hourly/contingency practice to understand, as the hours spent working on transactional or hourly matters might actually be 100% of the revenues generated for any given month.