Law students — be other person-centric

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.

Partner (as your client) centric

After establishing yourself worthy of a position and getting hired at the firm, you begin your mission of getting the partners to think of you as the go to person. The first step toward this goal is to understand what is expected. That understanding should cover the substance of the project and your specific mission as well as how the partner prefers you to communicate the results of your work. Does he or she want a detailed memorandum, and if so, can you review one previously prepared for the partner so you can get a sense of his or her various stylistic preferences? Also, before you finalize the project, does he or she prefer you touch base with your preliminary conclusions or earlier to confirm you are on the right track? Mindfulness of partner preferences will serve as a strong compliment to your intellect and technical competency and help ensure that you are at least in the running for the go to associate.

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