“This book tells you all you need to know about how to get on.” The Times

“Relatively few books have been written with assistant solicitors in mind, about how to succeed at the business of being a lawyer… fewer still have devised a programme for so doing that runs alongside a book. This book does both.”Law Society (The Law Management Section)

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The Big 3 (brand, business & leadership) Blog

Listening can be more important than having a solution

listeningAs lawyers, it’s absolutely essential that we meet our clients’ needs and desires. This should be obvious, but all too often lawyers forget to think about what the client really wants. Here’s a classic example: the general counsel of a large organization told me yesterday over lunch about a meeting she’d had the day before with her (previously!) favored law firm for a certain project. Apparently they began their pitch by telling her how the project would be run and who would run it, without displaying the smallest understanding of the in-house team, or, more importantly, the in-house politics that would have to be dealt with during the course of the deal. Their proposal was disappointing because they had failed to take this information into account.

The second law firm competing for the project used their allotted pitch time to ask questions, listen, and account for information, and then asked if they could provide their final proposal as a follow up to the meeting’s discussion. The general counsel was more than happy to accept the request, and was delighted when their proposal actually met the organization’s specific needs and desires for the project.

Sometimes, as lawyers, we think we ought to know all the answers - and that our clients expect us to rush in with our expert advice. The truth is that, in common with most relationships, they usually first want us to understand their needs. In short, it can be simpler than we think.

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What distinguishes you from the competition?

any different?Over the last few weeks, I have given various presentations to young lawyers about their career development. During the Q & A sessions, they have repetitively asked the same basic question: “How do I distinguish myself and get ahead?” So in my last presentation, I pre-empted the query by asking the audience what they thought was most important for success as a lawyer. Here’s their list:

  1. Quality work

  2. Delivering beyond expectation

  3. Expertise and/or being the best in your field

  4. Academic and intellectual credentials

  5. Building relationships with clients

  6. Status and reputation of the lawyer’s firm

  7. Individual reputation in the market as an expert—e.g. writing articles, speaking at conferences, etc.

  8. Persistence and hard work

  9. Investing in client development and marketing activities

Now while all of these things are essential for building your reputation and maintaining client relationships, the bad news is that even this list is no longer sufficient for really distinguishing yourself or building a personal brand. Lawyers need to think beyond the traditional differentiators, and focus on the value that they deliver to their clients beyond their delivery of legal work" something no one in my audience raised at all.

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