“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)

5 star rating HR Magazine

The Big 3 (brand, business & leadership) Blog

Teach and build a relationship

Frankly, don’t you often find it easier just to do something yourself rather than delegating—especially if you have to spend time teaching the other person how to do it?

The old proverb about teaching someone to fish may be true, but sometimes it’s actually the harder option. All the same, in the long run, it might still be the best choice: because it not only makes you more efficient, but also helps you to build relationships.

Think back to your favorite teachers/mentors. What made them great? What still causes them to stand out in your mind?

Among other things, you probably regarded them as experts. One of the best ways to demonstrate your expertise is to teach it to someone. When people teach us something, we tend to hold them in high regard and value them as a person (even if their personality might not be so admirable, oddly enough!)

The same will be true of you, if you share your expertise.

If you show others how to fish, you don’t just feed them (and yourself) for a lifetime—you also create a relationship in which they remember you as their expert—and you never know where that might lead. Just think if one person you teach one day moves into a position to hand out legal work—remembering you as a generous-minded expert!

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Two (often forgotten) basics of looking for a job

In better markets, many lawyers secured their jobs on the basis of strong academic qualifications rather than, necessarily, their interviewing skills. In the current market, interviewing skills can (in fact, will) make all the difference. Since many talented professionals are now in the market for jobs they would otherwise not have pursued, the competition is still tougher, and you can’t assume that you’ll be chosen on the basis of your credentials or intelligence alone. Instead, you need to show why you are genuinely interested in the position, how your skills and experience would add value to the firm, and what assets you bring above and beyond the competition. In essence, you need to work on your interview skills.

Secondly, don’t just scuttle behind your computer, applying for opportunities on-line. This strategy almost never works – least of all because many of those positions don’t even exist. Most jobs – statistics cite over 80% – are awarded through networking. So, my second piece of advice is to get out there, make connections, and build a network. 

You never know where a referral, helpful suggestion, or even an interview might come from . . . often from a very unlikely place!

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Know your client's business

I was giving a seminar to a group of IT lawyers within a prominent firm when—as a former IT lawyer myself—I began discussing some business development strategies allowing such lawyers to involve themselves more, both within the industry and within their own client base. Shockingly, it became clear to me that most of these lawyers were very adept at the “law” but quite clueless about IT and the business of technology. I couldn’t help comparing their attitude to mine, when I was in their position.

Back then I was absorbed in the technology industry (OK, I admit I’m not anymore!) I attended their conferences, read their journals, and was up to date on the latest news.

It should be abundantly clear that your clients expect you to understand their company and their industry. The inference is just as obvious: Read what your clients read, go to their meetings, visit their offices, and learn to see their problems before they do. This will give you the edge over your competitors, and add the sought-after unique value.

The best way to provide unique value to your clients is to give them notice of how they can avoid legal problems (ideally, before they even KNOW there is a problem) or, EVEN BETTER, create opportunities for them.

You can’t do that by only knowing the relevant law—no matter how brilliant you might be!

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Changing bad habits

The other day I met up with a long-time friend of mine, who as always, was late. I asked her why this was the case and she replied, “It’s just a bad habit.”

My response? “How about creating a new and better habit of being on time?”

It made me think about how each of us is the sum of our good and bad habits.

What bad habits would you like to change?

  • Being late (like my friend)?

  • Eating too much?

  • Not exercising?

  • Staying up too late and not getting enough sleep?

  • Being unproductive, or otherwise not effectively managing your time?

Well, if you really want to change any one of these habits, here’s how:

1. You must first make a 100% commitment to your new habit.

2. Set out a plan with specific steps of how you will lose the old habit and adopt a better and healthier one. (Don’t expect instant improvement: we’re all human!)

3. Write whatever it is you want to improve on down on a card that you keep in a place where you’ll read it several times a day—or use a post-it note bang-slap on your computer where you can’t miss it. You could make it a part of your daily visualization.

4. Enlist the help of someone who will help you be accountable to your commitment.

5. Recognize and acknowledge situations that encourage your old habits, and take steps to make appropriate adjustments.

As for my friend, being late isn’t a disaster—there are more harmful, less healthy faults out there—but being routinely late gives a bad impression, especially in business!

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Star Women

I was having lunch with some of my fellow female lawyers and the issue of women’s versus men’s networks came up (and of course the fact that women will always, to some degree, be excluded from our male colleagues’ bonding sessions, whether sporty or social). This reminded me of a Harvard Business Review article that I’d once read, which I looked up again. (How Star Women Build Portable Skills by Boris Groysberg.) In the article Groysberg makes the argument that star women build better portable business because most women’s networking is done by building on external relationships—with clients and contacts—which brings them portable business.

So maybe we should be thankful we’re not invited to those spontaneous beers after work in the pub, and are instead seeking our bonding in other and more personal ways.

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