Formula 168: How Lawyers Create the Life They Want


As you look to create, build, or transform your law firm, start first by identifying clearly the life you want. The key to happiness and fulfillment is to pinpoint that ideal life and then build your law firm to serve that life – not the other way around.

Too many lawyers have it backwards, selling their soul to the firm, racking up hours without the results they want because they blindly threw themselves in without thinking through what they wanted to create. You own the firm; the goal is to not let the firm own you.

Putting off happiness until you’re successful doesn’t work. Both the scientific research (e.g. Dr. Shawn Anchor) and anecdotal evidence show that happiness comes first and success is a result of happiness. Again, not the other way around. When you’re happy, you’re focused on the good. You’re more productive and energized. You reach out. You make things happen.

You can change your life and be happier by modifying how you allocate the 168 hours we each get every week. The first step is observing where you are and where you want to be. Fill in the below chart, documenting how long you spend on each activity now as well as how long you would spend on that activity if you were living the life you want.

I’ve filled in a few blocks as example to get you started. In the below scenario, I get 7 hours of sleep a night on Mondays, but if I was living my ideal life, I’d get 9 – and so on. Your 168 chart doesn’t have to be perfect. Nothing is perfect and you don’t need to be perfect to be successful. Just do fill it in with what you have in this moment and move forward.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday  Other Total
Sleep 7/9
Grooming 1/.5
Exercise 0/.5
Eating 2/2
Food Prep 0/0
Meditation -Journaling 0/.5
Working in the Firm 3/0
Working on the Firm 0/6
Firm Admin Tasks 7/0
Charitable Efforts
Reading for Fun
Household Tasks
Alone Time
Totals 168


When you go through the analysis, you’ll identify where to make changes to get you to where you want to be. Where in your life will you tweak your 168? Don’t take it for granted that you know where your 168 go. This exercise will surprise you – all my clients tell me they’re surprised in one way or another. For example, you’ll likely see the need to delegate. Shockingly, many solo and small firm lawyers lose up to $218,400 a year because they fail to delegate administrative tasks and use that time to bill, market, or strategically work on the firm.

Once you see where your 168 needs to be invested, the next step is to identify how much money it takes for you to live that life. I walk you through that analysis here: Do You Know the Million Dollar Law Firm Formula? This article guides you through how much you need to live the life you want as well as how many clients it takes to bring in that much. You get to create what you want.

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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4 comments on “Formula 168: How Lawyers Create the Life They Want

  • Anecdotally, before I became a lawyer I was a recruiter. I remember negotiating my ‘salary’ and it was a salary plus commission. The interviewer told me that everyone starts at a certain base plus salary. I said if I’m going to be happy I needed $10k more on my base. He said, ‘why should I worry about whether or not you are ‘happy’?’ I said, ‘because if I’m happy working here, you will be thrilled with my output.’ I didn’t realize at such a tender age I was so ahead of my time :-)

    • Hi Susan! You were waaaaay ahead of your time. Identifying, voicing, and creating space for needs are key to happiness which blossoms into success. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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