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Lawyers, Thought and Business…

Like many corporate lawyers, my firm is frequently retained by business owners in connection with the breakup of their business. These matters are so common that the term “business divorce” has been coined by attorneys to refer to this lucrative area of practice. Not surprisingly, the reasons people give for the breakup of a business are similar to the reasons they give for the breakup of a marriage. If you ask the client why the business failed, they’ll usually blame their partners for the divorce. If not, they’ll chalk it up to being “incompatible” or they’ll blame external forces such as the competition. Most lawyers at that point simply nod their head and begin the lengthy and expensive process of breaking up the business. Litigation is common and these matters can take months if not years to resolve.

I think that this is a disservice to our clients. The reason is because business owners don’t know what the real reasons are for the breakup. That’s because the reasons for the business divorce are hidden from them and lie in deeply engrained thought patterns that cause the business owner to perceive the world a certain way and which affect the way the business owners communicate (or, more accurately, fail to communicate). Like all people, business owners cannot see what they are thinking with. This is often the Achilles heal of business. So, what’s a lawyer to do? As business counsellors we have an obligation to assist our clients by getting to the root causes of the problem even when those root causes have to do with thinking patterns that our clients have used their whole lives. If we limit the tools at our disposal to what we have conventionally used, we’ll do just fine in terms of earning an income, but we’d be selling our clients short by turning a blind eye to behavior that will remain in place when the client starts the next business.

With a little specialized training, business lawyers can become aware of the thought patterns that affect their clients, and more importantly the clients recognizing those patterns. What if we, as lawyers and business people were equipped with tools to help our clients see those thought patterns that affect their business? Deeply engrained thought patterns usually are the very reason why our clients are looking for a business divorce and those thought patterns are the very same reason why they are guaranteed to repeat those patterns in their next business. I think lawyers would do well to understand where thought originates and how thought patterns below the level of conscious awareness account for the failure of businesses. Of course, in doing so, a lawyer, would first have to examine his or her own thinking. But if we care for our clients and want to distinguish our law firms from the competition, we will do just that, even if it means breaking from convention.

Ken Kapken-headshot-2-MASTER-250pxlan is a partner in Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, a boutique business law firm in Morristown. Inspired by the personal and professional benefits that he experienced from floating and Mental Arts seminars, Ken decided to open his own float center. When fully completed in 2016, Quantum Floats will be one of the largest float centers in the country. Ken also consults with business owners and managers, through Quantum Consulting, to help them recognize and change non-conscious thinking patterns that shape the quality of communication with colleagues, customers, and others, and which limit the business’ outcomes.

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