Law school teaches you how to think like a lawyer, but it doesn’t always teach you how to act like one. You’ll have to figure that out on your own.
Learning the following five concepts will put you on the road to a successful, long-lasting legal career.
How to Talk to Clients
Talking to clients is different than talking to other lawyers, and the better you are at it, the more clients you’ll secure. Prepare to meet new clients by researching potential questions and planning your answers. To assure clients you’re listening, use appropriate body language and ask relevant questions.
Use everyday language; most clients aren’t impressed by legalese and may not even understand what you’re telling them. Using straightforward language to describe complex legal situations will impress and reassure the most challenging of clients.
Good Time-Management Skills are Vital
Learning to use your time wisely is essential. Forget about multi-tasking; it’s often wasteful. Instead, learn to focus on one thing at a time.
Minimize disruptions by scheduling times throughout the day where you’re only to be interrupted in case of emergency, and plan periods to make phone calls, send emails, and meet with colleagues. Stay away from social media at work, and spend the last 10 minutes of your day planning for the next.
Understand Trust Account Management
Learn your state’s trust account management rules, and don’t take them lightly. Even minor mistakes can get you disbarred. For example, don’t remove a client’s funds from the account until you’ve completed their work, and never borrow money from it. These are just two rules to follow; there are many more, and it’s to your benefit to learn them all.
Create Your Own Opportunities
If you can’t find a job after graduation, make your own. Starting a law practice with little experience is daunting, but it can be done. Personal injury, patent, and family law are three areas where solo practitioners often thrive.
Join an organization for self-employed attorneys. It will help with networking and provide support. If there’s not one in your area, start one yourself.
Networking is important to all lawyers, not just those looking for work. It can help you land a job, and it can also help you keep one. If you’re already employed and think networking isn’t important, consider what might happen if your firm goes through layoffs. It’s going to keep the people who generate the most business, and a strong professional network is the best way to obtain business.
If you know how to communicate and network well, understand how trust accounts work, and are willing to create your own opportunities, you’re well on your way to a successful legal career that will span decades.