The 2/3 Rule Will Make You a Happy and Successful Lawyer

With a bit of effort, the simple and profound 2/3 Rule can transform you and your practice. I have mentioned this rule in dozens of presentations over the last several years and it always gets great feedback so thought it was worthy of a SLAW posting.

This simple rule says the goal of being a happy lawyer with a successful practice can be achieved provided all your clients/matters meet at least 2/3 of the following requirements:
1. You are working on interesting and challenging legal problems.
2. You are working with people you enjoy.
3. You are getting paid for your work.

And note, there is nothing wrong with doing pro bono work that you actually agreed to do on a pro bono basis, provided it is on interesting and challenging matters for clients you enjoy working with.

Go through your client/matter list – how many of your clients comply with the 2/3 Rule? For many of you, I suspect at least a few of your clients don’t comply and I suspect those clients cause more than their fair share of grief for you (i.e., they are probably your most difficult clients and/or they are well represented on your AR list).

You can be happier and build a better clientele by taking steps to make sure all your current and future clients comply with The 2/3 Rule. Keep The 2/3 Rule in mind next time you are considering accepting a new retainer from a client who does not comply – don’t take on the file. Slowly over time you can work towards the goal of having all your clients comply with The 2/3 Rule.

A hat tip to Ottawa family law lawyer Lawrence Pascoe who shared this tip with me in a CBA presentation we did together many years ago in Montreal. He got it from a Belgian lawyer he had met.

Cross-posted on


  1. John Anthony La Pietra

    A good point. On the other hand, I think this might be a good rule for any profession — or any job at all, for that matter. (On the third hand, we attorneys may have a bit more freedom of choice in this area than some other folks do.)

  2. A succinct summary of one of the most useful rules I’ve seen in a long time. Haven’t heard this one before but it sure rings true. Will be reviewing my list of matters and applying this rule very soon! Thanks, Dan