The best lawyers who land the best law jobs have the uncanny ability to promote and market themselves. In law firm positions, they promote themselves to partners and clients to handle high stakes matters, elevating their profiles. In-house attorneys have to market their services to their colleagues in other departments in order to move the company forward. No matter the law career path, an attorney will always need to be developing and retaining business.
This scares most attorneys—and is oddly one of the reason why many want to change positions (so they can focus less on the “marketing” and more on their practice).
There are certainly career tracks that require less business promoting than others—but with a few simple reminders, an attorney can really position themselves for greater advancement in any practice setting. Here are the ABC’s that every attorney should keep in mind:
Ask smart questions. You not only want to learn about the legal matter, but also about what is driving your client. Get to know what they hope to accomplish and what their expectations are.
Be a problem solver. That means you come with solutions, not just a list of problems.
Communicate. Keep clients consistently informed, and be as transparent and informative as possible.
Don’t do it all alone. Delegate, and utilize junior attorneys and support staff so you can focus on what you need to.
Educate your clients and yourself. There are always new developments in the various industries that affect your client’s business and your practice.
Focus. You cannot give 100% in all things to all people.
Go out. Visit clients (current and prospective). Meet with your stakeholders, supervisors, and colleagues. Learn about what you can do to make their lives easier.
Help solve business problems. Even if that’s not what you are hired to do, keep that in mind. Refer them to your network of professionals that can help them succeed.
Identify other services that your clients need.
Judgement isn’t just given in the courtroom. Remember that your clients are judging you too.
Know your clients. You have to understand the business as well as the legal matter to provide the highest quality service.
Learn by listening. Many problems can be preempted if you clearly hear what you are being told.
Market and promote yourself. You and your practice will depend on it..
Never neglect to promptly reply or respond to your clients. At the very least, acknowledge them. It may seem small to you, but it might mean the world to them.
Own your work product, and take responsibility for your practice. No one likes an attorney who blames everyone and everything else.
Practice means that you always have room to grow. Always improve and get better: in the law, in technology, in different industries, etc.
Quality matters, and is defined by your client.
Reputation is everything—do what is necessary so that your clients and supervisors are advocating for you and your work.
See the whole picture. If you catch the little things, do not ignore the bigger objective. If you understand the big picture, pay attention to the little things.
Treat every client as if they were your one and only client.
Understand your reputation. Even if you do not need to actively solicit or interact with clients, remember that you have a reputation to maintain. Reputations are built—or shattered—on the simplest of things: from typos in an email or confidence in your tone of voice.
Value is defined by the client. Does your client feel that the work product or result you delivered was worth your fee? Always deliver more value.
Work on yourself. There is always something you could have done better.
X-ray your practice, and how you fit into your work setting. Are you always as efficient as you can be? Is there something that can be done that your clients can appreciate more?
Yes. Most clients want to hear “yes.” The answer, unfortunately, is not always “yes” — so remember that if you can’t say “yes,” you want to be sure you say “no, but…” Also remember that you might have to say “Yes, if…”
Zeal. Maintain a sense of zeal for your profession, your team, your practice, and for your clients. Genuine energy and enthusiasm will set you apart from your competitors.