5 steps to get dream Hill job

Get dream job by asking good questions and being of service.

Get dream job by asking good questions and being of service.

Legaljob has previously posted advice for getting your dream legal job.  Along similar lines, LegalJob was recently asked for advice about getting on the Hill.  That advice seeker heard that it was difficult to land a job on the Hill and that it was all about whom you know. That is not Legaljob’s experience.  For the candidate willing to put in the work and do the five steps below, landing a job on the Hill is quite possible.  Note that the steps are iterative and work together and off each other.

1)  HAVE THE LONG VIEW

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More useful networking advice for lawyers

Ask open questions, listen, look for different ways to provide value.

Ask open questions, listen, look for different ways to provide value.

Here is another useful article which provides a different way to think about networking.  LegalJob agrees with the author about the importance of not tying networking to a specific work goal.

 

Instead, as LegalJob has previously posted, networking is just another opportunity to be of service to people.  If your goal is merely to be helpful to people as suggested in the article, a likely by-product is that you will attract clients because of all the strong value you provide.  It is a win-win once your goal is to help people regardless of whether they become clients.

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Telling your story

Keep your story clear, concise, and unique.

Keep your story clear, concise, and unique.

LegalJob has posted before on four keys to effective networking. The idea is to first seek to provide value to the person with whom you are networking. Then help people help you by being specific about what you want, what you offer, and how they might help.

A refinement to this advice is to be able to say all those things in under 10 seconds. Here is a link to an article from a movie producer who provides some ideas on how one can accomplish this level of brevity for their company. This advice can easily be applied to marketing your legal expertise/practice.

According to the author, you start by identifying these four things. Read More…

3 steps to getting your dream legal job

Ask hard questions, do research, and be of service to obtain your dream legal job.

Ask hard questions, do research, and be of service to obtain your dream legal job.

The keys to getting your dream job is to deeply understand what draws you (by doing meaningful research and going through the process of asking yourself hard questions and answering them) and being of service to people currently working at your dream job. These three steps are elaborating on below:

Ask yourself hard questions.

  • What are the kinds of clients/industries you want to help? What draws you those clients/industries? What experience do you have with those clients/industries?
  • What are the issues that people working in these industries (business people and their advisors) spend their time thinking/worrying about? Are those the issues you want to spend your time thinking about? Do you have innovative ideas relating to these issues or the industries generally?
  • What are of law is most relevant to the clients/industries you have identified?
  • What about your background or interests makes you well-suited to work in these industries or with these clients? Read More…

Being of service (mindset)

How can I be most helpful to this client/partner right now?

How can I be most helpful to this client/partner right now?

This post continues the recent theme of examining the habits of superstar associates.  The habit of being of service is so important it gets its own post.  This habit incorporates other habits previously discussed on this blog including the value of deeply understanding your client’s business, learning to adapt, being vulnerable, and anticipating client needs.

What does it mean to have a mindset of being of service? Consider the following example from the book, “How to Sell a Lobster” by Bill Bishop. Bill describes a “basketball mind trap” and gives the example of a company that has been selling basketballs so long that the balls are all they think about.  But, as the author points out, they are really in the business of helping those involved in the sport of basketball succeed.  So, when their product is no longer popular, the company with a mindset of being of service thinks, “how else could I help basketball players?”  Perhaps one could provide software for coaches, uniforms, new basketball courts, training videos, etc.  The lesson is that the successful company is always focused on how the company can help its customers thrive.

Similar thinking shifts can be done for associates.  The superstar associate has a mindset of “being of service” to clients (who are generally partners in the early years) because they understand the following:

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More secrets of exceptional associates

Think big and keep the ideas flowing.

Think big and keep the ideas flowing.

This post is the second summarizing what ten big firm partners think contributed to their success as an associate.  In their view (which LegalJob shares), one’s success as an associate depends on whether they have: (i) an insatiable thirst for knowledge; (ii) strong interpersonal communication skills; (iii) a high level of enthusiasm for their work; (iv) a partner’s mindset; (v) a long-term view; (vi) willingness to seek and take feedback; (vii) good judgment; (viii) a tendency to take ownership; (ix) a strong mentor; and (x) creative intelligence.  This post describes the importance of having a partner’s mindset.  Note that many of these items overlap.

Partner’s mindset

One could write a book on this category (and one is coming) but for this post here is a summary.  There are at least three ways to have a partner’s mindset:  (i) have a big-picture focus, (ii) be the person that figures out what else should be done on the project and do it, and (iii) be intrapreneurial.

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Enthusiasm

It pays to be enthusiastic!

It pays to be enthusiastic!

This article on Above the Law by a managing partner confirms the importance of being enthusiastic, one of the keys identified in an earlier post about how to be a superstar associate.

The author references a Dale Carnegie drill and notes that everyone wants to be around an enthusiastic person.  He says “[t]hat is the guy who gets the job, who gets the promotion, who gets the client, who gets it all.”

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Setting expectations

Dig in and ask questions to avoid underestimating project completion time.

Dig in and ask questions to avoid underestimating project completion time.

Associates often underestimate the time it takes to complete a project. The thinking is that they want to encourage the partner to provide more opportunities and they understand that generally the preference is for the assignment to be completed quickly (today) and efficiently (with as small amount of time billed as possible). However, this practice of underestimating the time will not likely lead to the desired result of gaining additional opportunities. Instead, it is likely to lead to fewer opportunities as the project takes more time to complete than predicted.

Check out this article about the power of managing expectations called “What Airlines Don’t Get About Delays.” It explains why people generally feel good about Disney (which pleasantly surprises you with its overestimates of wait times) but carry negative feelings about airlines (which seem to consistently disappoint passengers with their underestimates of length of delays).

Two possible solutions to determine a more realistic estimate are to: i) get to work on the assignment to determine the lay of the land so you have some idea what is involved before opining; and ii) have a discussion with the assigning partner on how long she expects the assignment to take and what she feels is appropriate to charge the client (in case those two are different).  Then, at least you have some relevant information from which you can make your estimate. And depending on the circumstances you may want to provide yourself a little cushion like Disney (while being mindful of partner/client expectations).

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Secrets of exceptional associates

For success, work on communication, be enthusiastic, and be curious.

For success, work on communication, be enthusiastic, and be curious.

This post is the first of three summarizing what 10 big firm partners think contributed to their success as an associate. In their view (which LegalJob shares), one’s success as an associate depends on whether they have: (i) an insatiable thirst for knowledge; (ii) strong interpersonal communication skills; (iii) a high level of enthusiasm for their work; (iv) a partner’s mindset; (v) a long term view; (vi) willingness to seek and take feedback; (vii) good judgment; (viii) a tendency to take ownership; (ix) a strong mentor; and (x) creative intelligence.  This post describes the first three items.

 

1) Insatiable thirst for knowledge

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More secrets of successful business people

For maximum results when speaking or writing, start strong, be clear, and keep it short.

For maximum results when speaking or writing, start strong, be clear, and keep it short.

This post continues with the concepts from 10 Simple Secrets of the World’s Greatest Business Communicators (herein “10 secrets”). As mentioned in the first post, this book for business leaders seeking to become more effective presenters can just as easily apply to lawyers seeking to become more effective at the business of practicing law. Below is a discussion of three more secrets and their application in the context of practicing law.

1)         Start Strong

The author of 10 secrets advises the business speaker to start strong. He says people will remember the manner in which you start your presentation so the key is to cut to the chase and tell people why they should care about what you have to say. To help start strong, he suggests one provide the answers to the following questions in about thirty seconds: What is my service, product, company, or cause; what problem do I solve; how am I different; and why should you care.

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