Episode 212 – Defining your success both in law and in life with with John Chisholm
In this week’s episode of the ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life Podcast’ I had the pleasure of interviewing the wonderful John Chisholm. John aptly describes himself these days as a ‘recovering lawyer’ but I soon came to learn that his passion for the profession is deeply ingrained. John is a third generation lawyer, and you might say followed a family legacy that has been built across 60 years and started with John’s Grandfather at the firm Maddocks. It is clear that John has achieved incredible success in his career in law- from Articled Clerk to Managing Partner at one of the country’s largest firms but it was John’s definition of and perspective on the concept of success that had me intrigued in this conversation.
John left private practice in 2004 and since that time has been consulting to firms all around the world and is a leader in law firm innovation. John’s passion for abolishing the billable hour, rethinking the markers of success in law businesses and building a sustainable future for lawyers has driven his career this past decade and I can personally say his influence on so many of us who are following in his footsteps will mean that his legacy will live for many decades to come.
And I would call John a happy lawyer- even if it hasn’t always been that way- and I suspect is has been his wife, family and health that keep him that way.
In this interview, John and I also chatted about-
- If John was not a lawyer he would have been an artist.
- Creativity, the law and the benefits creative activities have on our mental wellbeing.
- John grew up in Victoria, as the eldest of 4 boys, with a father who was a second-generation lawyer.
- John’s journey into law and how becoming an articled clerk in his father’s firm influenced his career.
- Law firm Maddocks in the 1970s, and how it has changed over the past 40 years.
- John shares his broader definition of success in the law.
- John’s experience of the technological changes on the legal profession across his career.
- The drivers of change in law and how busyness and technological changes have impacted the wellbeing of lawyers.
- Gender and opportunities previously held in the law and the barriers which have been broken.
- Multi-disciplinary law and our client’s perspective of the profession.
- The role of non-lawyers in law firms.
- The highlights of John’s 9 years as a managing partner at Maddocks at the beginning of his career.
- John describes himself as a ‘recovering lawyer’ and his choice to step away in 2005 to find clarity in life.
- How John fell into the world of consulting and why he made this shift within the legal space.
- Value pricing and John’s passion for this style of billing and how it led into his full-time career.
- A whole of business shift is required to move away from the billable hour.
- Profitability and the perception of profit and success.
- John’s mentors and their influence on how John saw success as a lawyer and a person.
- The benchmark of success, comparisons and competition between legal firms.
- John’s tips for lawyers stepping into the law and how to find fulfilment in their careers.
- To be a great lawyer you need to enjoy life and John shares his life outside the law.
- The positive life changes that COVID has had on John’s life, (and mine!).
- John share the importance of boundaries.
- And finally, John refers us to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s definition of success: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; … to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child or a garden patch … to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is success.”
Sit back and enjoy this interview with John Chisholm.