When I practiced law, I was asked by our HR director, what attributes I looked for in associates. I think he assumed honesty and integrity and expected beyond that I would say hard-working, great attitude and all the normal things.
When I told him that curiosity was very high on my list he looked confused. He asked me to explain and I told him about how my curiosity helped me attract business. I want to share what I told him so you can find a way to make it work for you.
During my career, I was very blessed to have helped contractors who were building very complex and difficult bridge construction projects, including a design-build bridge project in Maine and a bridge that sunk while under construction in Washington state.
I was blessed to have helped contractors who were constructing many complex tunnel projects including the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel (I-664) in Virginia, Metro Tunneling for the Green Line in Washington, DC, and a copper mine tunnel in Libby, Montana.
How did I get the opportunity to work on those complex construction projects and why should it matter to you? I hope I got those opportunities because the clients thought I was a good lawyer. But, I know there was more to it than that.
Contractor clients hired me to advise them and help them with contract issues on complex bridge and tunnel projects because I was insatiable learning how bridges were designed and constructed and how tunnels were bored or placed in deep water, or underground in a metropolitan area.
In the 80s I worked on a big contract claim for additional compensation involving the construction of a complex segmental bridge in Richmond, VA. I started reading books on bridge design and construction, and American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) articles.
I sensed that bridge was not the only one with time and cost overruns, so I made a Freedom of Information Act request of the Federal Highway Administration on all cable-stayed and segmental bridges constructed that had either time or cost overruns. After I gained greater knowledge, I wrote about the construction of bridges and tunnels in a way that demonstrated I had spent time learning. That led to speaking opportunities
I was not a better lawyer than the many others who could have been hired, but I anticipated there would be bridge construction contract disputes before other lawyers, and I worked very hard to learn about design and construction.
So, what about my experience can help you?
You can create your own client opportunities by outhustling the competition. You read what they are not reading and see the problems your clients will encounter. Many, if not most, lawyers with whom you compete think they are too busy to spend the time it takes to be more valuable to clients.
So, here’s the key marketing tip.
if you are willing to make the effort to learn what your clients expect you to know, you don’t have to sell yourself, clients will find you.