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It's not the destination that matters, but the journey



Stephen Vallance is a member of the HM Connect team at Harper Macleod, supporting high street and rural law firms throughout Scotland. Having set up and sold his own law firm, Stephen has gone on to be an entrepreneur, author, educator and all round guru in the business of law. Throughout lockdown, Stephen has taken the time to share some insights which, though focussed on the legal profession, could be of value in all of our businesses and lives …

There is something about the turn of a year that makes me more reflective than usual. Those of you kind enough to read these articles might find that hard to imagine. A bit like the end of a race or a long and arduous journey, you begin to realise that it was never about the destination, it was in fact all about the journey itself.

The journey in 2020 for us all was a remarkable one. We have had thrust upon us changes and challenges that no one anticipated as a result of a pandemic that few outside science fiction writers even imagined, and yet we have dealt with them.

To take my race analogy a little further, few of us ‘enjoy’ the discomfort of any challenging endeavour. No matter how fit I was or how successful my business, getting faster or growing my practice never felt easy at the time. It was challenging, it was painful, there was no certainty of a successful result and it’s only in hindsight that I can see that effort was worthwhile.

What made the challenges in 2020 different was that for once the race was thrust upon us, it wasn’t optional. There was nothing we could do but adapt otherwise our business could not operate. One of my favourite stories, which I may have used before, was of a member firm that realised that creating a truly paperless office simply took a scanner, an office junior and a pandemic to achieve.

Looking back then over your year are there any changes to your business processes that you now regret making? I suspect that, for most, it is only that they weren’t made earlier.

While there is no doubt that the year ahead will bring its own challenges (who said Brexit?) I for one would like to start the year on a positive note, with perhaps one important warning. I think the profession generally is in a better place now than it has ever been to react to whatever the New Year brings. We are leaner, more flexible and more client focussed than ever. I do though believe that we need to keep our own people at the centre of our thoughts. Far too many practitioners seem to have completed the year with little or no holidays. Many also seem to be caught between hiring and holding off for fear of what 2021 might bring.

Hopefully all will come back into balance but, like that race, you simply can’t keep ‘running’ forever. We have all stepped up this year and put in the effort to adapt and succeed, hopefully we can all now take a little time to rest, reflect, if you wish, and look forward to the journey ahead.

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