I would like to thank everyone who voted for me and supported me in the Pantagraph’s recent Reader’s Choice Awards. The Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. won second place as “Best Law Firm” and I won second place as “Best Attorney”! Can you hear the “We’re Number 2” chant coming from RLO!!
This is a HUGE HONOR for me and my firm and if nothing else – it tells me that we are doing something right here at the Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. I have been practicing law for almost 15 years now – and it has been quite the journey. My legal career has -- and continues to be a learning process. Here is my story about my professional career – and why being Voted #2 Attorney and #2 Law Firm in the Pantagraph area means a lot to me. Graduating From Law School Being an attorney is not easy. We attorneys graduate from law school with a very basic (and miniscule) knowledge of the law. Law school teaches you how to gather facts, read case law and apply the law to the facts of your case (aka – legal analysis).
Law School doesn’t teach you anything else on how to be an attorney -- how to run a law practice, hire and manage employees, market your practice or (most importantly) properly serve clients. Unlike doctors that have a year or two of “residency” to learn their specific doctoring skills – attorneys don’t have any equivalent. We graduate law school – find a job and either sink or swim. It is a very stressful profession. First 2 Years of Practicing Law Growing up here in McLean County – I always knew that I wanted to come back to McLean County to practice law. I choose to work for an attorney in Bloomington that did real estate, business law and banking law. The first year of practicing law was extremely stressful – I was learning the ropes on how to do everything – from drafting letters to doing bench trials. Fast forward another year -- my first child – Addison – was born July 28, 2004.
The attorney I worked for died in a car accident on October 31, 2004 – just one week shy of my two year anniversary of practicing law. Looking back – I am not sure how I got through the next two years of practicing law. I helped my boss’s family wind down his practice after he passed away and I started the Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. on February 15, 2005 (Valentine’s Day). Ritchie Law Office, Ltd – Version 1.0 From 2005 – 2012 I practiced law “the traditional way” -- billing clients by the hour, working way too many hours and spreading myself too thin. I had a handful of associate attorneys that worked for me during that time period. I would regularly work untill midnight. I would work weekends. I was a work-a-holic -- it took a toll on me. Then in 2008 the Great Recession hit my business and real estate clients very hard which in turn hit my law practice very hard. I was in full blown burnout from all of the long hours and stress. I thought merging my practice with a local firm here in Bloomington, IL would be the answer. From January 2012 to December 2015 I was a partner at a law firm here in town. Merging my practice with another firm didn’t help. The stress anxiety and burnout was still there – and now added stress and pressure from my “partners”. Chad Decides to Make a Change Things hit rock bottom for me physically and emotionally in June 2013 when I went to the emergency room and stayed in the hospital for three days. I was lying in bed at home and felt like something snapped inside of my chest. I felt like I was having a full blown anxiety attack. Turns out – at 39 years old -- I was experiencing a heart condition known as A-Fib – a non-fatal irregular heartbeat. Among the contributing factors – STRESS.
My heart was beating at 175 beats per minute. My heart felt like a fish flopping around in my chest. The doctors had to “cardiovert” me – twice – in order for my heart to start beating normally again (that is where they use the electric shock paddles that they use on people having heart attacks – fortunately they sedated me before doing this). The way I was practicing law was not sustainable for another 3 more years – let alone another 30 more years!! I specifically remember telling my wife in 2014 that I had to make a career change. I either had to learn how to practice law differently – so I actually enjoyed it – or I needed to quit practicing law and do something else entirely. Four Core Values -- Listen, Win, Love, Team Over the next two years -- I took MASSIVE ACTION on my quest to re-create my legal practice – and in a way – my life. I spent $30,000 learning how to practice law in a different way. I hired a legal marketing and practice management coach out of San Francisco – to teach me how to practice law that didn’t require killing myself. I participated in a year-long “Mental Toughness” course called UnbeatableMind.com developed by a retired Navy Seal. I read every book on leadership; happiness, marketing, and mental toughness that I could find. The result of my two years of research on mental toughness, leadership and happiness lead me to simplifying everything and developing FOUR CORE VALUES that I now use as my daily guide. Here they are: 1. Listen – Listening is the Key to Success 2. Win – Winning Starts in the Mind 3. Love -- Act out of Love and Confidence – and Not Fear 4. Team -- My Teammates can count on me. Listen, Win, Love, Team is my mantra. I evaluate myself on how well I do on each of these principals on a scale of 1 to 10 on a daily basis. How well did I listen today? Did I have a winning/successful mindset today? Where my actions based upon love and confidence or were they based on fear? Was I a good teammate today (to my wife, my kids, my employees, my friends, my networking partners, my clients). I now make decisions on who I associate with and what organizations I am part of based upon these Four Core Values. This has made a huge difference in my personal life and in my professional life.
Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. – Version 2.0 On January 1, 2016 I left the Bloomington Law Firm I was a partner with to go back out on my own so that I could practice law in a new way that had these Four Core Values as its foundation. I refer to Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. that re-opened after January 1, 2016 as Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. - Version 2.0. Restarting the Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. in 2016 has been one of the best decisions of my life. Over the past one and a half years I have been the happiest and most content I have ever been professionally and personally. I am now off the A-fib medication and taking better care of myself and my family. I don’t work until midnight and I don’t work weekends.
The Four Core Values of Listen, Win, Love, Team are the foundation of the Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. Mission Statement – “Helping Clients Achieve Success, Peace and a Lasting Legacy.” Professionally – I do a lot more than “apply facts to the law” -- I now focus on working with clients that are great people that I enjoy working with. I help people be better parents, business owners and community members – through estate planning, business planning, and real estate law. Thank You Again!! Thank You again for your support and I am truly honored to be named #2 Attorney and #2 Law Firm in our community. I truly apreciate my clients, my friends and family, my network partners, those who have attended my estate planning seminars and other events - and everyone on this e-mail list! It has been a long journey. I am now off the A-fib medication and taking better care of myself and my family. I don’t work until midnight and I don’t work weekends. The Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. continually improves as we find better ways to serve our clients, be leaders in innovating the practice of law and be good members of our community. With all of this being said -- be on the lookout for Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. – Version 3.0 coming soon!! Thank you so much for your support.
This article is a service of Attorney Chad A. Ritchie and the Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. Click Here or call (309) 662-7000 to learn more about what it’s like to meet with the Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. for your initial estate planning meeting. We call this initial Estate Planning meeting a “Ritchie Legacy Planning Session”.
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