A New Paradigm

For the 2nd time, I am three years into a million dollar business venture of my own creation and I am beginning to see a pattern.  I am committed to living beyond patterns and conditioning, so now that the pattern has been noticed, I am committed to doing something different.

What did Einstein say?  “Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.”

So here I am.

Exactly where I was just a couple of years ago in so many respects.

And yet so far away.

The difference this time is that I seem to be willing to let go in the right places, even though it’s really hard.

I kept my law firm operating too long because I couldn’t let go.  I told myself it was because I had to take care of all the people who worked for me.  I was doing it for them.

A part of me was.  But, another part of me simply couldn’t let go.  Of them.  Of the clients.  Of the reputation.  Of the identity.

By the time I did, it was too late.

And I’m still dealing with the fall out from it.

I won’t do the same thing again.  And, yet, here I am.  Making the conscious decision to break free of conditioning and patterned responses is difficult.

I’ve done what I do and built something that’s making a huge difference.  But, it’s time for its next evolution.

And I’m committed to allowing that evolution to happen in a way that’s best for the organization as a whole.  The work is too important.

I won’t make the same mistake.  Maybe a different one, but not the same one.

So, I’m letting go.  But instead of letting go into the hands of someone who has never run a million dollar company before and doesn’t have a proven track record (which is what I did last time), I’ve decided to create a whole new paradigm of business operation.

This will either be the greatest experiment in letting go ever and I’ll go on to write a 4-Hour Work Week-like book about it and make it to the NYT bestseller list or I’ll be just be another schmo who runs businesses into the ground.

That’s my fear of course.

One failure is acceptable and even seen as a positive in some circles.

But, two?  That begins to look like a pattern.

That’s what my mind tells me at least.

Of course, lots of people tell me that my law firm was a huge success, not a failure.  And then I tell myself that too as reinforcement.  Because it was – if I had wanted to be a lawyer.  I’d be rolling in the dough now.  A pillar of my community.  Living the American Dream.

It sounds great and I know I SHOULD have wanted it.  It just wasn’t my path.

So I sold it and had what I have now discovered is an all too common post-sale experience.  Within 6 months, the guy I sold it to stopped paying me, stopped paying the bills and was not servicing the clients as I would have.

Since I’ve started talking about this, I’ve begun to hear from other business owners that this is a quite common situation.  A company is sold to the wrong person or people and in anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, the company is out of business.  Each one left with a varying degree of debt and/or liability.

I don’t want that to happen again.

The work I have created is transformational.  I know how much it’s impacting lawyers and the clients they serve on a deep level.

I can’t make the same mistake again.

So, I’m doing something different.  Very different.

Yesterday, I announced to my Personal Family Lawyers that now that the company is three years old and has a solid foundation – solid recurring revenue, systems that are proven to work not just by me, but now by additional law firms implementing the systems as well, documented financials and projections – it’s time to evolve to the next level.

I consider all different possibilities and ultimately thanks to the purpose work I’m doing with Tim Kelley, I have determined that the most purposeful thing I can do is let go with purpose.

Letting go with purpose for me means looking at what would be most purposeful for me individually, the company as a whole and ultimately the world.  Discovering that option, becoming aware of it, then trusting and letting go.

It’s scary as shit.

So yesterday, I sent the PFLs a letter letting them know that I am going to model the new paradigm of collaborative operations within the PFL program.

Over the next few weeks, I will be inviting Personal Family Lawyers who meet certain criteria to be on the Senior Counsel of the organization. They will pay a membership fee to participate (so they have skin in the game) and receive my personal coaching on their business (people pay $3,000/mo. for this) in exchange for their membership on the Counsel.

Those are the last decisions I will make alone and the group can choose to change them as part of the collaborative process, which takes into account the perspectives of all stakeholders.

This group will be trained in the Collaborative Operating System model and we will document that as best as possible to share with other organizations in the future in case this works.

Within some period of time (once the training is complete), I intend that the Senior Counsel (of which I will be a member) redesign every aspect of the program so that the work thrives if the community wants it to thrive.

That means, the Counsel will make all decisions, including the extent of my continued involvement, how  much I’ll be paid if I do continue to be involved, how much I’ll be paid if I don’t continue to be involved, what I do on behalf of the organization, etc.

This is a grand experiment. I will chronicle it here, even when it’s scary.  Especially when it’s scary.

A model of the new paradigm.

How can I talk to you about how it should be, if I’m not blazing the trail?


Please let me know that this is impactful for you.  Hearing that will give me the fuel I need to keep going down this path (as if I could stop it now?!?) – I’m really scared and the fact that it inspires you, inspires me to keep going.


  1. EconGrrlTuesday, March 9, 2010 at 4:49 pm 

    Giving up control is definitely 'leveling up'. Building collaborations that serve all of your business's stakeholders is an important shift.

    Allow this business to be bigger than you. Allow it to serve the larger community in form AND function.

    I love it! Thank you for sharing Alexis.

  2. LisaTuesday, March 9, 2010 at 5:08 pm 

    Alexis, you are a breathtaking leader who is clearly blazing the trail and committed to the fulfillment of your own truth such that it serves everyone you touch and the larger community to the best of your ability. Kudos to you and wishing you the absolute greatest success with this grand experiment. Looking forward to continuing to learn from you, and to supporting the fulfillment of your highest vision. Love to you on your journey! 😀

  3. lorilatimerTuesday, March 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm 

    Keep blazing those trails because a lot of people, me included, are inspired and motivated by what you do, the way you do it, and the way you grow and evolve as you do! Thanks for letting so many of us be a part of what you're doing.



  4. Rachael E.C. AcklinTuesday, March 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm 

    WOW. This sounds absolutely amazing, and what a trailblazer you are! I'm here and watching and learning. 🙂

  5. Michael MatthewsTuesday, March 9, 2010 at 6:53 pm 

    I like your phrase, “Letting go with purpose.” Another articulation I like around that distinction is “commitment without attachment.” Two years ago I set out with my friend and business partner Kim Wright to create a website to transform the way law is practiced, CuttingEdgeLaw.com. The map is not the territory and and we have often had to let go of our idea of what it was supposed to look like and allow the process to have its own organic development process, reading each bend in the river as it comes. There is that movement between the ecstasy and the terror and the challenge is always to find that “center” point where those are balanced. The shamans of southern Mexico have a saying, “You need only remember.” When things start to swirl take time to remember those places and times where you were/are balanced, at peace, alert, whole. This is my first visit to your site and I do find what you have been up to truly inspiring. You have that same wonderful blend of a powerful mind with a powerful open heart that I have been privileged to witness in so many of the interviews I have filmed for this movement toward a world that will work for all. Shine on sister!

  6. Alexis Martin NeelyTuesday, March 9, 2010 at 7:55 pm 

    Thank you. That was just what I needed to hear right now.

  7. Alexis Martin NeelyTuesday, March 9, 2010 at 7:57 pm 

    Thank you so much for your kind words AND your work. Together, we can change the way lawyers think and the way the public thinks about lawyers!

  8. barryselbyTuesday, March 9, 2010 at 8:23 pm 

    Alexis, your courage and humility are probably unheard of in the legal profession. You are an bold witness, pioneer and way-shower. To boldly lead a community not known for it's humility, cooperative thinking, greater good focus, flexibility, heart-centered response, etc., is huge, and yet particularly timely in our society in this moment in time.

    To quote from George Santayana “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” You are expressing that you clearly see the history lesson and you have learned from it. Alexis, you inspire and evoke hope for a better society when the holders of the law become more present to their role and responsibility. You teach and be the change-agent that you are. I support and commend you. Rock on!

  9. Nathalie LussierTuesday, March 9, 2010 at 11:04 pm 

    This is really cool Alexis! I think it's awesome to watch you evolve, because you're bringing us all along for the ride too. 🙂

  10. brittmichaelianWednesday, March 10, 2010 at 12:58 am 

    Wow. You are one brave mamacita, Lex! Good for you. Just make sure you remember the little people who supported you before this transition and invite us to the launch party of your big NY Times bestseller book! 😉 You know it is going to happen. You are the queen of MANIFESTATION.

  11. SarahWednesday, March 10, 2010 at 3:58 am 

    Once trained, what incentive do they have to keep you? Or pay you what's fair upon your departure?

  12. emepejeWednesday, March 10, 2010 at 1:14 pm 

    I LOVE your AUTHENTICITY 🙂 it really looks like YOU KNOW what you are doing even if your intellect is freaking out! I CAN defenitly relate to that feeling!! 😉

  13. jkimwrightWednesday, March 10, 2010 at 10:39 pm 

    Actually, while admirable, Alexis is not unique in the legal profession. The cooperative thinking, humility, greater good focus, heart-centered, etc. is a movement that has been growing for more than ten years. I've interviewed over a hundred of these new paradigm lawyers on camera and know hundreds if not thousands of them.

  14. Alexis Martin NeelyThursday, March 11, 2010 at 7:18 am 

    Kim is right. The light I'm shining is carried on behalf of all lawyers who every day quietly treat their clients with love, honesty, compassion, heart, and a whole lot more humility than I have.

    It's so sad that the ones that are not that way have overshadowed this side of our profession. But, we are changing that! And it's a beautiful thing.

    Kim, I'm so grateful to you for leading in this arena for so long. Together, we can make sure everyone knows the truth about lawyers.

  15. TinaFriday, March 12, 2010 at 8:23 pm 

    Love this model Alexis – the collaborative approach. a really lovely way to approach the situation. can't wait to hear more about it!

  16. RichardSaturday, March 13, 2010 at 3:12 pm 

    Is this similar to the various customer-owned cooperatives in other markets? They might be a good place to look for examples of what works best. Either way this move will make it harder to control the business which is what most people want but it sounds like it will make it easier to reach what you truly want.

  17. Valencia Ray MDSunday, March 14, 2010 at 2:06 am 

    Hi Alexis, I completely relate to what you are doing. I was an eye surgeon for over two decades and I was an entrepreneur during those years. Because I started my family a year out of residency/fellowship training, I always worked part-time office hours, and even with limiting my hours, I ultimately had a very close to the 7-figure mark solo practice. Long/short, I know what it means to achieve every personal, professional, health and financial goal set and still have inner turmoil. Over the last decade, I learned to go within, connect with my core power that was always there, clear up the major “blind spots”, listen to intuition, sell my practice (amazingly cash above market – thanks to the principles I've learned) and I too am finding my way to shine the light upon our false self-image stories and self-inflicted suffering. I'm just starting out now, evolving my voice, and I know my purpose/mission so I say, Yeah for you! I sooooooo relate to your journey.
    Peace and Blessings,

  18. AlexSunday, March 14, 2010 at 2:18 pm 

    “I learned to go within, connect with my core power that was always there, clear up the major “blind spots”, listen to intuition”. That's very profound. I wish you could elaborate..

  19. Stephanie BaffoneFriday, March 19, 2010 at 4:37 am 

    Hi Alexis-
    I found you via #wtlead. My editor is Janet Goldstein and that's how I found you. So glad I did!
    Yes, this post is inspiring. Moreover, what effected me was how frank and honest you were. It's comforting to know you too “feel the fear and do it anyway” and are “scared as shit.” You go girl! Thanks for being so honest and open!

  20. ShannanFriday, March 19, 2010 at 5:15 am 

    I know very little about the practice of law, but as a Women's Studies scholar, I'm fascinated by the model you're implementing and its implications. I'll be pointing my pre-law students towards your blog and encouraging them to watch your journey!

Leave a Reply