Successful lawyers have in common that they focus on addressing the client’s needs, wants, quirks, and preferences. They are able to put themselves in the mind of their client because they are constantly asking their clients what they want or learning what they are thinking about. As discussed in Making Partner, this same mentality will help you achieve lots of success in your law career. Your client may change along with the preferences but the model of being other person-centric does not. Consider the short examples below using professors and firm partners (both as your potential employers and as your clients). There will be future posts on this topic, including one that addresses being client centric.
Professor centric. A recent post discussed the value of getting inside your professors’ heads in the context of final exams. In other words, you will likely do well in the class if you spend some (one-on-one) time understanding their background, what topics are interesting to them, how they think, what concepts they believe their students should understand, whether there is an order of importance among topics, etc.
Partner (as your potential employer) centric. To obtain the position at a top law firm — particularly if you do not have top overall grades — your first step is to understand what the firm, or more specifically, the partners at the firm are looking for. Dig deep here in your research. Are they looking for a particular specialty within a practice area? Are they looking for previous work experience? How about relevant academic background from undergraduate school or law school or both? Once you know what the firm is looking for, you can more easily make your case that you could contribute immediately to the practice based on your academic success in xyz law and related courses and relevant work experience and that, as such, the firm’s investment is less of a risk than its investment in others who show little or no previous commitment to xyz law.
This post is the second part to reinforce the idea that before you can have a chance of obtaining your dream legal job, it helps to understand what that concept of “the dream legal job” means for you. Check out this link for additional tips on how to go about that process.
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LegalJob’s guest blogger Jenny Maxey provides some networking nuggets below for law students. Jenny is the author of Barrister on a Budget: Investing in Law School…without Breaking the Bank, which will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on November 17, 2014. To find out more information, visit www.JennyLMaxey.com.
Attempting to build a network can be costly – new suits, reception or conference fees, professional group membership dues, and even transportation to get to the events can all add up. When you’re a student and especially as a new law grad, no or low income can make networking a challenge. However, the fiercely competitive legal job market demands having a network secured. The old adage of who you know is more important than what you know isn’t wrong, and, although the legal profession requires both, during a recession the “who” becomes critical.
The easiest and most optimal plan to network on a budget includes a significant job from the summer after your first year, continuing through a part-time job for your entire second and third years. Not only will this reduce your likely level of debt, it will prove invaluable for building a professional knowledge, credibility, and network. However, as many summer associate programs have lowered their class sizes, this plan isn’t always achievable.
LegalJob was recently asked whether it is appropriate to ask a partner for an explanation for some of his decisions regarding how much of his billable time was written off or discounted.
This is a thoughtful question and the advice ties together at least three of the best practices discussed in Making Partner: i) having a partner mind-set, ii) being firm/partner/client centric, and iii) making others look good.
LegalJob believes it is very appropriate to have the conversation as long as the associate has the awareness to be sensitive about overstepping. So much of this communication depends on how you frame the issue and your tone.
This post is the second of a two-part series providing practical tips for becoming a rising star. Below are some suggestions for: (i) taking ownership, (ii) using a soft and measured approach and tone, and (iii) managing time effectively. These principles are discussed in further detail in Making Partner.
1) Taking ownership
a) Demonstrate with your words that you believe each issue is indeed your problem as opposed to the partner’s/firm’s problem or the client’s problem.
This post is the first of a two-part series providing practical tips for becoming a rising star. Two important steps in this order are to: (i) understand what is expected; and (ii) provide a thoughtful recommendation (after performing the research and analysis required). Both of these principles are discussed in further detail in Making Partner.
1) Understand what is expected
Understanding expectations is a big part of meeting them. In order to help make sure you understand what is expected, ask questions to confirm that you understand your task and, equally important, that you understand the preferences of the partner assigning the project. Consider taking the following steps when receiving the assignment, working on the assignment, and presenting conclusions: Read More…
This post provides advice for getting into law school and for maximizing your chances of obtaining a legal job upon graduation. The bottom line is that in addition to top LSAT scores, grades, and schools, you can distinguish yourself in the application process by a) demonstrating that you are focused such that you are likely to be one of those students with several job prospects upon graduation; and b) emphasizing your strong desire to give back to the school that provides you the opportunity. Below are four specific steps to take with advice on how to accomplish each step.
1) Come up with a preliminary plan of what you will do with the law degree.
a) What area of law do you intend to practice?
One great way to distinguish yourself from peers and to attract and have clients for life is to understand the business of your client, as discussed in Making Partner. Here are five ways to do that:
- Read all of client’s big documents. If client is a publicly traded company, read the annual and quarterly reports filed with SEC and the latest prospectus. These documents contain valuable information about the company, the business challenges it faces, and its strategies for dealing with them. If the client is a privately owned company, read a recent Offering Memorandum that it used to attract venture capital investment or the client’s recent comprehensive business plan.
- Read all of the competitors’ big documents. Learn who your client’s strongest competitors are and review their disclosure documents. Comparing your client’s disclosures to those of its competitors will provide lots of information about your client’s industry, the different strategies implemented by the various players, and the hot button industry issues.
- Review the client’s web presence. Find out what the client says about itself on its own website, blogs, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. This task may be good, productive work for an intern who may have the time and technical know-how to surf the net and find lots of relevant information that cannot be found through merely typing in a search term in Google. Instruct the intern to check websites of competitors, industry websites, and anything else related to client’s business or industry.
- Read the trade press. Learn which trade associations your client belongs to and subscribe to the associations’ publications to get a sense of where things are going in the industry. Go to trade association conferences as well.
- Visit the client. Ask the client if you could spend a non-billable day or two at their office in an effort to better understand their business. Go see how the products are actually made and sold. Get your hands dirty. Ask questions. Meet with the workers. Learn the different personalities of managers and subordinates alike.
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There is plenty of good information out there on networking. This link adds to the discussion and the advice found in Making Partner by elaborating on four keys to effective networking, namely: 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.
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