Did you ever see the movie: The Graduate? If you saw it you likely remember the opening scene when Benjamin, (played by Dustin Hoffman) is given career advice in one word: “Plastics.”

When I was a young lawyer I did not have a coach, but I did have several senior lawyers who gave me advice.

Some times the advice was helpful. For example, I was told that clients want lawyers with “confidence inspiring personalities.”

Other times the advice was not helpful for me, and failed to recognize that I was different than the lawyer offering the advice. Here are 10 examples of advice I received that did not fit or work for me.

  1. Client development: You’ve either got it or you don’t. (If that was true, I would have never developed a practice.) 
  2. You have to join Rotary Club. (None of my potential clients were in Rotary. It did not fit my practice.)
  3. You should be active in the Bar and attend Bar events. (For my practice speaking to other lawyers, or going to Bar events was not the best use of my time.)
  4. You don’t need to have a plan. I have never had a plan. (I am sure some lawyers can develop business without a plan. I am not one of them. I need a plan to stay focused.)
  5. You have to be an extravert and have a “gift of gab”to become a rainmaker. (I have never had the “gift of gab”and thankfully it has not mattered.)
  6. There is no way you can develop a niche construction law practice. (That advice just served to give me greater incentive to go for it.)
  7. You should develop business the way I did it. (Senior lawyers seemed to think their way was the only way.)
  8. Client Development: All you have to do is do good work, get a Martindale AV rating and wait for the phone to ring. (I got a Martindale AV rating the first time I was eligible and the phone did not ring any more than before.)
  9. Client Development: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. (In some sense this turned out to be true, but I knew very few people.)
  10. There’s a little fraud in every sale. (The lawyer who gave me this advice did so partly in jest, but he  frequently oversold. Reminds me of some current events in US news.)

What is the point? You will likely receive advice from many senior lawyers. Most of them will have your best interests at heart. But, the advice you receive will likely be based on what worked for them. Take the parts of advice that fit you and use it and disregard the rest.

One final thought since it is on my mind: And here’s to you Mrs. Robinson.