“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

Have You Got the X Factor?

Solicitors Journal, December 2009

Being a successful lawyer is about more than just legal knowledge. You need the X-factor! Learn how to get it.

Are You At Risk of Being Outsourced?

Law Business Review, October 2009

Years ago the outsourcing of legal services—especially in place of lawyers from top-tier firms—was inconceivable (at least by most), but today it’s increasingly normal.

Read this article and take steps to counteract the risk of it happening to you.

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First Contact

Solicitors Journal, December 2009

Building relationships is essential to the success of every lawyer, and one only does so through the process of networking. In this article, Jennifer shows young lawyers how…

Developing Business Skills

Law Business Review, August 2009

In this article, Jennifer highlights the importance of business development skills and urges lawyers to invest time to create their own action plans on how to improve their “soft-skills”.

She then provides a three-step plan to consider: building your own brand, demonstrating your leadership and developing your people skills.

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Walking in the Shadows…

The European Lawyer, March 2009

Jennifer discusses the detrimental effect that the billable hours culture is having on lawyers’ careers.

This focus forces lawyers to concentrate on short-term successes (i.e. high levels of billable time) instead of investing in their own personal development, and the network of relationships that guarantees long-term work generation.

Jennifer also explores how lawyers avoid the trap of becoming “successful” senior associates who are technically brilliant but lack the skills needed for partnership. Jennifer highlights the importance of building a personal brand and consistently growing one’s circle of contacts, requiring lawyers to get out of the office, network and develop their skills.

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The “Me” Brand

Legal Executive Journal, February 2009

The latest in the Legal Executive Journal’s “Countdown to Partnership” series, Jennifer Overhaus explains why technical excellence is no longer enough to succeed in law and identifies how prospective partners can gain the skills they need to succeed.

Jennifer concludes that there is no ideal character profile required to succeed as a partner. Instead success is determined by how effectively each person works with their own qualities and how they interact with others. To be able to do this effectively Jennifer identifies the following “awareness building blocks” individuals need to understand:

  • - Understanding your personality

  • - Know your values and motivators

  • - Learn how to interact with people

  • - Create confidence with optimism

  • - Understand how others see you and how you can influence it. 

Jennifer dispels the myth that successful lawyers can solely rely on their technical ability to succeed—in fact as a lawyer progresses up the career ladder, the importance of “soft skills” increases.

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The First Step to Leadership

Law Business Review, May 2010

In the first of a series of articles Jennifer explores the three different stages of leadership and says that, by forming a strong personal vision of what you want to achieve, you can take the first step on the leadership ladder.  The three different stages of leadership are:

1.  First, you must self-lead, by having a vision for your future and, despite setbacks, must maintain commitment to that vision and have self-belief.

2.  Secondly, you must lead within your relationship, by managing yourself as a leader in relation to others.

3.  Finally, you must learn to lead others.  

This article focuses on the first level of leadership:  self-leading.  To do this, you must develop self-awareness, think optimistically, control emotions, take action, learn from your mistakes and never stop self-developing.

The First Step to Leadership -- Part 2 -- Drivers of Leadership

Law Business Review, July 2010

Leadership only happens in the context of relationships and boils down to influence, but sometimes lawyers forget this and fail to use the elementary tools of influence.  In the second article in a series of three on leadership, Jennifer considers four drivers of leadership and examines real-life examples of lawyers using each of the actions.  The four drivers are:  

  • Achievement. People with a high need for achievement long to excel and are driven to meet or even exceed a certain (usually self-imposed) standard. They have little patience for those who can’t keep up and generally prefer to work either alone or with people like themselves.

 

  • Affiliation. People with a high need for affiliation desire harmonious relationships with other people and want to feel accepted. While this can appear a relatively weak or casual motivation, its consequence is to foster aligned behaviour, so within the context of leadership it has a significant role to play.

 

  • Personal power. People who seek personal power want to direct, control, and influence others, which at first glance might appear to be reasonable motivations for a leader. However, the person dominated by these considerations will tend toward coercion and manipulation, which will fatally undermine his cause.

 

  • Socialized power.People motivated by socialized power influence others by helping them develop their skills and grow in confidence. When driven by socialized power, people achieve far more than they could when fueled by their own personal aspirations, because championing, encouraging, and uplifting others is a powerful motivator. In fact, the person driven by socialized power is so concerned with the collective good that his or her purpose becomes inseparable from the interests of any followers. Not surprisingly, this is by far the most effective and authentic form of leadership.
The First Step to Leadership -- Part 3 -- Leading a Team

Law Business Review, September 2010

In the final article in the series on leadership, Jennifer explains how the ability to lead and inspire others towards a shared purpose is the ultimate step in leadership.  

She shows how successful organisations such as Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, and Star Bucks run their companies on this basis and teach these leadership skills.  If only law firms were to invest in legitimate leadership training programmes like these organisations....

Jennifer goes on to say that you can only lead by being the kind of person others want to follow and then building your team and leading through example, enthusiasm, challenge, and empowerment.