Sometimes taking the right decision is all about quantifying the things we do not quantify.
Will I bargain with a taxi or autowallah for 3 minutes if I know that the cost of my 1 hour is INR 10,000, as a decent lawyer with a similar level of experience will charge?
It will not make sense to a lot of you, especially if you are hoping to earn just 30, 40 or 50 thousand rupees per month. Earning 10,000 per hour is too far removed from your reality, currently.
But I want you to get it, that time is money.
In my 3rd year of law school, at the age of 19, I was interning at AZB Bangalore. This was just after the original AZB Bangalore partners split and set up another law firm, later to merge with JSA. The place was full of young associates very recently hired, and new partners brought in to hold the fort.
I was living an hour’s drive away from the AZB office. I started by going in a bus to the office. Soon I realised I am left drained out by the horrific bus journey, and I am also wasting 2 hours every day in commute.
At that time, I used to do ghostwriting and used to prepare study material for CLAT coaching. To be specific, I was doing freelance work for the biggest coaching behemoth of the time, IMS.
So I decided to travel by auto, pay Rs. 250 each way, opened my laptop the moment I set foot in the auto and spent the hour working on my side gig. The auto money was a great investment. and I got great returns on them. That 250 rupees was a princely sum for me in those days. I could, however, earn about 700-1000 rupees per hour according to my calculations given the amount of work I had and the time I could give to it. So it was a win to pay that auto guy! Plus I reached office with my shirt still crisp and spirit intact. Which meant I could perform well there too.
Your time is valuable, but it is likely that you are throwing it away. Before anyone else pays you for it, you need to value your time yourself. You need to invest your time and money in yourself before anyone else will trust you enough to do so (maybe except your parents, they may trust you before you trust yourself).
I do not want to spend my time washing clothes, cleaning the kitchen or doing admin work. It is not that I am vain. I am the most frugal and value conscious person you will ever meet. I want to stretch every dime and get the best I can get.
However, over time, I have realised that the cheapest is usually not the best for me. I am wary of saving money by wasting time, losing opportunities and skipping lucrative investments.
I have realised that I should not save money at the cost of wasting my time, because I can use that time to make a lot more, if I have the right skills, reputation and connections.
Please become good enough at law so that it makes no sense to save money by washing clothes or cooking yourself. If it is just a hobby, no problem. But if you are doing it to save money, I implore you to figure out how much time you are wasting and if you could invest that time in yourself to make yourself an amazing lawyer who can charge INR 10,000 per hour of work they do.
However, before anyone else pays you that kind of money, you have to realise that you can get there. You have to believe it. Then you have to treat your own time like it is worth 10,000 per hour.
Can you do that? All rich and successful lawyers naturally do this. They do not spend their time doing dishes. They know what their time is worth. They lavishly invest in themselves and reap the benefits. They hire well-paid assistants, splurge on top of the time software, pay a lot to talented juniors, spend on networking, pay for coaches and therapists who keep them in top condition so they can perform at work, spend on health and wellness and even on continuous education, learning and training.
Sometimes, the difficulty is that they do not have training and education at their level. Money is not the issue, the problem is can they get what they need at their level?
Since you have read so far, I want you to spend some time thinking about this. Answer these questions.
What kind of clients will pay 10,000 per hour for your legal work? What kind of legal work is this and why do these people pay so much?
What kind of skills, expertise and knowledge will you need to be able to charge this much? What are you currently doing to develop yourself to that level?
Are you afraid that you will never reach that level? Is that why you are not investing enough in yourself?
What if you could invest INR 10,000 and get INR 20,000 back as returns? Is that worth it for you? What if you could do a course worth 1 lakh which helped you to earn 10 lakhs in the next 5 years, will you go for that? What if you could learn skills that people pay INR 10,000 per hour for, and charge less and delight your clients? Can you build an amazing reputation that way?
Do you have any alternative way to learn such skills? What are the possible ways? Do you have mentors? Do you have coaches who can guide you?
If a world champion in tennis or cricket have a coach to continuously train them and improve their game, why do not you have the same when it comes to your game as a lawyer? Have you explored if someone offers that kind of service? Do you not take it only because it is beyond your psychological comfort zone of spending money? If yes, is that a hindrance on your growth?
Would you spend on luxury? Like good food or good hotels? Good clothes?
Would you spend on what would improve your earning potential? How do you do it currently?
Would you spend on a product like Master Access by LawSikho that can make you the smartest lawyer in the room?
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One word of caution before I leave you. While doing administrative and routine work can be a drain on your valuable time, some of it at times can be therapeutic and beneficial for your psychology and long term productivity. For example, there is a famous speech about why you should make your bed as the first thing you do in the morning. Doing penance and service for other people can have a massive impact on your strength of character and mental well being, which is why many religions focus on such activities. But that’s another thing, do not mix it up with how you value your time and how you make decisions about how you use your time, money, effort and other resources.
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