By Scott Levine, Found / Managing Member
“The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.”
—Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha,
The Start-up of You
Of course, with the Covid pandemic, virtual interaction has become the norm—making these online connections feel all the more essential. However, research shows that social media use can crush your firm and even your spirit. And research also indicates that the best way to grow your practice and increase productivity—to become the attorney you aspire to be—is to get offline and engage with actual humans.
Studies have found that students who use social media once within a 15-minute period can only completely concentrate on an assigned task for three of those 15 minutes. For the rest of the time, they can’t pay attention because they’re wondering if someone has yet responded to their last text, if they should edit what they just posted, and so on.
That gnawing at the back of your mind takes a huge toll. And still-other research has found that, over time, these constant distractions are even changing how our brains function.
Part of the problem is that social media interactions trigger a dopamine response; over time, these leave your brain constantly wanting more. But just as distracting is the inevitable social comparison element of social media. As a study in Harvard Business Review found, “the more you use Facebook, the worse you feel.”
Then it becomes a vicious cycle. Because the more you use social media, the more you feel like you have to keep using social media: “The negative impact technology has on users’ lives comes from the need users feel to continue to update and manage their online persona.”
How to Get Back the Focus
The Pomodoro Method is a popular strategy to help focus: You work on a task for 25 minutes, then take a short break, then do another 25-minute stint, then have another break, and so on. (There’s even a free Tomato Timer to keep you on track if you want to try it.)
Mindfulness training has also been found to help regain control of a distracted mind.
But technology’s best is still only trying to approximate the results you can achieve by interacting with humans.
Indeed, that same Harvard Business Review research team also found that, while Facebook use was negatively associated with overall well-being, real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being.
How to Go Beyond Just Concentrating—to Thrive
When it comes to the best way to serve your client, you benefit from running ideas by attorneys you trust—meaning people you know, rather than the random people you encounter on social media. Someone shares an insight about a judge they’ve appeared in front of; someone else suggests new case law you hadn’t yet heard of. Things like this aren’t flukes.
Studies have shown that small groups of people solve complex problems faster than even the best individual can on his own. And solutions are more creative because each person brings a different perspective and unique knowledge to the table.
Furthermore, the benefit from a collegial environment isn’t limited to your work product for a specific case. It improves one’s overall career.
As James Clear wrote in his bestselling book Atomic Habits, when astronaut Mike Massimino was a graduate student at MIT, he took a small robotics class. Of the ten people in that class, four became astronauts. If your goal was to make it into space, then that room was about the best culture you could ask for. Similarly, one study found that the higher your best friend’s IQ at age eleven or twelve, the higher your IQ would be at age fifteen, even after controlling for natural levels of intelligence. We soak up the qualities and practices of those around us.
Accomplishments of your friends and associates are indeed a strong predictor of who you will become.
Motivation is itself a social contagion: People “catch” the enthusiasm and ambition of those around them. They may start out doing something solely because “there’s a reason to” (a required court date, a client meeting), but social interactions can change that person into someone who is energized and truly excited by the task.
As people continue to work together, they begin to trust each other. This increased trust leads to increased team motivation—people work harder for the team to succeed. And along with it comes an unexpected benefit. Increased team motivation leads to increased innovation for each individual. The individual grows as the team does.
How Attorneys Thrive in a New Kind of Firm
We see all of that in action, every day at AEGIS Law.
We understand that attorneys resist joining large firms because they want more control over their work, their careers, and their lives. But we also know that that decision usually comes at a cost: The practice of law often becomes more about running the business than being a lawyer.
That’s why at AEGIS Law, we’ve developed a new model. One that gives attorneys the ability to control their practice, but it also gives them the ability to collaborate with colleagues whenever the need arises. Our attorneys maintain their own book and workload. But they’re always welcome to bring another Aegis lawyer onto a matter, whether as formal representation or informal exchange of ideas.
Because of this ongoing give-and-take, our lawyers have an unparalleled opportunity for professional development. They can take on bigger cases, knowing they have a network of attorneys and support staff who can support them. They can take on familiar legal issues for new types of clients through AEGIS’ client network. They can acquire a new specialty by joining in a matter with practitioners who are already more experienced in that area. They can become the lawyers they’ve always wanted to be.
After the isolation of the pandemic, it’s been clearer than ever that we need each other, and casual virtual exchanges just aren’t the foundation for the deep relationships needed for growth.
And since AEGIS Law even has resources dedicated to handling digital marketing, our attorneys get more time to have those truly meaningful interactions. Without distraction.
At AEGIS Law, we’ve disrupted the traditional practice of law. Our firm offers the same quality and sophistication as larger firms, but we do it more efficiently and with a better attitude. We’ve created a new kind of law firm by focusing on recruiting top legal talent and giving our clients superior service. If you’d like to learn more about us and how we work, let us know. Send us a message or call us at (314) 454-9100. Or, take a look at our Recruitment Guide