Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Want To Be A Top Lawyer Or Just A Good Lawyer?

I just ran across this great piece on law.com

It begins with this premise: Young attorneys are often led to the field of law because of a seductive proposition: You can do anything with a law degree.

The next and absolutely true statement: "Unfortunately, a law degree does not even guarantee an opportunity in law, let alone an entree into a different field."

Then the appropriate dig to BigLaw associates (I give this a 8 on a scale of 1-10): "A multitude of smart folks pass the bar, only to find themselves stuck behind prefabricated desks without much interest in the subject matter that fills their days. Their brains overloaded with statutes and data, many wonder why opportunities fail to abound."
Here's the crux: Although you may be able to do anything with a law degree, a law degree and solid experience alone will not do it for you. For those young attorneys who dream of becoming top lawyers, the key is to be three parts lawyer and one part marketing agent.

Author Shai Littlejohn doesn't think of marketing as advertising or direct mail pieces, more like "the total sum and breadth of your work history, reputation, involvement, initiative and personal values. Brand you is riding on whether people think you are competent, committed, available and willing to offer counsel. Sometimes for free. And often after hours."

This is my favorite line of this must-read article:

"Top lawyers know that, while most of their colleagues look forward to relaxing at home at the end of the day, the highest-achieving ones do not focus on when one day ends and another begins. They look forward to the firm reception or foundation meeting at night because they are acutely aware that a little extra involvement is what moves the ordinarily competent attorney into the extraordinary, top attorney column. Even when not working, the top attorneys remain available and on call, considering the interests of their employers and communities at all times."

Read it.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com



South Florida Lawyers said...

I love the last paragraph you excerpted.

Anonymous said...

But what of the "top lawyer" who looks forward to every networking opportunity to market themself, but just happens to suck at the law, lack any real zeal to anything aside from self-promote, or perhaps just isn't too smart?

For the marketer, it's better to look like a top lawyer than to be a top lawyer. I can understand why so many aspire to the former, since the latter is far more difficult.