GPSOLO July/August 2010
How to Feng Shui Your Law Office
Feeling stuck in your law practice? No amount of marketing advice seems to help? Maybe it’s just that your energy is blocked. You heard me. I am a child of the sixties, but that’s not what is making me get all groovy on you (Peace, man). Feng shui is a Chinese system of aesthetics that aims to help you improve your life by receiving positive energy flow.
Wait, before you stop reading and go back to watching your DVR recording of the last episode of Lost for the 20th time, I brought with me a feng shui expert who gives what I believe is good advice on arranging your office, whether you believe in “positive energy flow” or not.
From Law to Positive Energy
Tisha Morris ( www.mindbodyom.com) is a feng shui consultant based in Nashville, Tennessee. In her recently published book, 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home, she shows you how to use the practice of feng shui to clean and organize your home in a way “that will renovate your life.”
What might interest you even more is that Tisha was formerly a practicing lawyer. For three years after graduating law school she clerked for judges. She then was hired by a law firm and realized on her first day there that she didn’t want to be a lawyer.
Thus began a seven-year journey of exploration to determine what she did want to be when she grew up. First, she went to design school and received a fine arts degree in interior design. That wasn’t enough for her—she felt that it was too technical. Next, Tisha trained to teach yoga. This was followed by various energy-related healing techniques and the study of feng shui.
All the while Tisha was practicing bankruptcy law, which she found ironic. “In the morning I’d learn all about designing people’s homes and in the afternoon I’d be taking people’s homes away.”
Transforming Your Office from a Dump to a Dream
“Solo attorneys don’t have a lot of money; feng shui can be applied without spending a dime,” Tisha informed me. What follows is Tisha’s description of three feng shui principles that will create a more relaxed and productive environment for a solo attorney’s office.
First: The Command Position
When first setting up your office, did you just roll in your desk, chairs, and a couple of filing cabinets like you were trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle? Feng shui dictates that furniture in an office must be arranged in a certain way to maximize positive energy. Most importantly, the desk must be in the “command position.”
I have to admit that when I first heard this, it sounded particularly suited to lawyers. Aren’t we always supposed to be in command?
The command position orients your desk so that, when you are sitting down, you directly face the door. This is when you feel most in command, most powerful and in control. Having to look to your right or left to see the door doesn’t count. You must be able to look straight up and clearly see the door in front of you, though it doesn’t have to be dead center.
Not as essential, but preferred, is that there be a solid wall behind you and not a window. If you do have a window behind you, I suggest that you pull down the shades to achieve a similar effect.
Second: Make Way for the Good Stuff
I’m sure that you have read time and time again that clearing away the clutter in your office will make it easier for you to find things, and that you will create more space when you throw away what you don’t need.
Here’s another reason to clear out the clutter: Feng shui sees clutter as “stagnant energy.” When I first heard this, I immediately got it—clutter is stagnant energy.
Tisha explains that if you feel that your practice is stagnating, the problem could be the stagnant energy from your cluttered office, which, by the way, blocks the way for new energy to enter your space.
For instance, anything from the past keeps you in the past. This could be file folders on the floor of your office from a lawsuit or transaction that you worked on more than five years ago (five months ago is a problem as well).
Plaques on the wall that relate to activities in which you no longer are involved and old research materials that are no longer relevant to your practice also are good examples of being stuck in the past.
Clean all these things out of your office and your life, either by putting them away or throwing them away, and you will feel a new energy that permits you to generate new ideas and new clients.
Third: Your Desk (Nooo!)
Having a bunch of different files and papers on your desk is not good. It messes with your energy big-time. And after you clean up your desk, you know that you feel much better for the three minutes that it actually stays clean.
Feng shui requires that you have only the essentials on your desk—your phone, your computer, your various stationery items such as stapler, tape dispenser, and pencil holder, and, of course, your cup of coffee. The only other thing that should be on your desk is the file on which you are currently working. Keep in mind I said “the” file—as in only one file at a time on your desk. Granted, a phone call may force you to pull out a file quickly to answer a question, but after the phone call the file should go away.
Do this and you will be clearer and more organized in your mind.
Lastly, make sure that you have enough “wing space” around you desk. In other words, have enough room for your arms to stretch in both directions and for your legs to stretch out, too.
A Few Other Feng Shui Thoughts
Be sure that fluorescent lighting is not the only source of lighting for you. A floor lamp or desk lamp will work well to reduce the mental fatigue that will occur with just fluorescent lighting.
This I know I have to say to lawyers: Be sure that your door can open all of the way. Otherwise, you are blocking energy. If you have boxes or furniture that blocks the door from completely opening, fix it, because the physical space that you may be saving is not worth the mental energy you lose with a door that only can open part of the way.
Do not have shelving on a wall right next to where you sit at your desk; according to feng shui, it will give you a sense of responsibilities that are not really there. Personally, I wouldn’t want shelving so close to where I sit because I would stress about it falling on me one day.
Stagnant No More!
So, no need to get out a lava lamp (drop that term in an online search box if you don’t know what it is) or an Etch A Sketch. We are definitely still in the year 2010, and these suggestions may significantly improve your experience in the physical space that you call your office, whether or not you subscribe to the principles of feng shui.