As you may know, I passed the bar and began practicing law in 1971. I believe 2008 was the last year I billed any time as a lawyer. So, I had 36 plus years to learn lessons practicing law. In the hope you will not learn what I did the hard way, here are my 25 lessons I learned:
- The greatest asset a lawyer can have is clients.
- Real learning began after I finished law school and passed the Bar exam.
- The importance of doing what I was passionate about.
- The people who worked for me were incredibly important.
- The people who worked for me were not necessarily motivated by what motivated me.
- The more narrow I made my niche, the easier it was to be noticed and for my expertise to be recognized.
- Writing and speaking were the best ways for me to build my profile and reputation.
- Repurposing my material. Briefs and memos became articles. Articles became presentations. Presentations became guides. (In 2019, those would become blog posts.)
- My client representatives had different personality types, meaning I needed to speak with them differently.
- If I did not create a written plan with written goals, I did not use my non-billable time wisely.
- In order to make the plan effective, I had to break down my actions into smaller components.
- Planning my week around my roles including my personal roles.
- I had to make time for client development and my own development. (I would never “find” it.)
- That learning about my client’s work and industry was at least as important as developing my legal skills.
- The importance of making client development a habit.
- The importance of focusing on existing clients.
- That clients wanted me to understand their industry, their company and them.
- That while some lawyers may have natural people skills that make client development more natural for them, client development is an acquired talent.
- In client development, little things made the biggest difference.
- Every person is a potential client.
- The importance of asking good questions and actively listening.
- Actively listening is more than hearing what a client has said.
- To effectively communicate with a jury, I had to find something they cared about.
- If I was to be successful trying cases or helping clients close deals, I could not fear losing.
- To succeed, I had to be able to rebound from failing or losing.
I actually learned at least one more really important thing:
To be at the top of my game, I focused more on my energy management than I did time management.