Law, like any coin, or the law of nature itself, has two sides that are equal and opposing forces: The drive to be to be a noble profession and a successful business. Another simple truth is that opposites attract and, when co-existing in proper harmony, form an unstoppable and impenetrable force.
Yesterday, I mentioned the five laws of stratospheric success. These laws are the theory of Bob Burg and John David Mann expressed in their best-selling book, The Go-Giver. This little red book is a parable; a quick and enjoyable read. It won’t take much of your time to read it, but you just might spend the rest of your life applying it.
The five laws are:
- The law of value – your worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment
- The law of compensation – your income is determined by how many you serve and how well you serve them
- The law of influence – your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other’s interests first
- The law of authenticity – the most valuable thing you have to offer is yourself
- The law of receptivity – the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving
Creating opportunities in one’s career is a concept that has been scientifically studied and reported in educational journals. Scholarly publications on serendipity, synchronicity, and happenstance, all attest to the theory that one’s career development is not linear, progressive, and rational. Career destiny cannot be predicted in advance. Rather, it is a function of the beneficial, unplanned and unanticipated events, opportunities and learning experiences that are generated by one’s actions.
How then, as lawyers, do we reconcile our need for certainty and control with the thought that our careers are at the mercy of the fickle finger of fate? In considering this theory, it is important to note that we always have control over our actions and choices, which in turn determine our professional experiences and opportunities. This is not just dumb luck.
I have had the privilege of speaking with many successful lawyers over the years and what they all have in common is that they have all instinctively applied the five laws and have invariably experienced the power of happenstance in their careers.
Once such successful person is Chief Justice Warren Winkler of the Ontario Court of Appeal, with whom I have recently had the pleasure of speaking about how one becomes successful in the legal profession. If you are interested in hearing his thoughts on this topic first hand, you can do so on March 30, 2011 at a special event being held by WLAO.
Sharon Davis – Click here for more information on Sharon Davis.
In Re Cogan, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice addressed the issue of contingency legal fees. The lawsuit involved the claim of a minor suffering from cerebral palsy, with the plaintiffs alleging that the obstetrician and nurses attending at the child’s birth were negligent.
The case settled for the sum of $12,543,750. The lawyers for the plaintiffs wanted to be paid $4,174,928.45, or roughly 33.33%, on the basis of a contingency fee agreement between them and the minor’s litigation guardian. A contingency fee agreement is an arrangement whereby a lawyer agrees to be paid a percentage of recovery in the lawsuit. Where there is no recovery, the lawyer works for free. Where there is a substantial recovery, the lawyer benefits accordingly.
The Court was asked to rule on whether the contingency fee agreement should be allowed. In its lengthy weighing of both sides, the Court found, among other things, that: The agreement was obtained in a fair way; 2. The agreement was reasonable; 3. The risk to the lawyer of not getting paid and not getting reimbursed for disbursements was high; 4. The case was complex and required significant time commitment and delayed payment; and 5. The result achieved by the lawyer was exceptional.
The Court also commented on the importance of access to justice for vulnerable plaintiffs like the minor and the role contingency agreements can play in fostering that goal.
Therefore, the Court upheld the agreement.
Thanks for reading.