Monday Practice Tips for Young Lawyers

Welcome back everyone, and hope you had a great weekend!  On Mondays as always we provide a practice tip to young attorneys.  Part of the enjoyment of this Monday section for me is not only to pass down what I have learned, but also to try to save you from the mistakes I have made!  One of my bigger regrets as an attorney is how long I waited to do things like this blog or other types of marketing or networking activities.

Today will be the first in a brief series of posts about networking.  The end goal of networking of course is to generate business, which can come in a variety of forms, including new clients, additional business from existing clients, and referrals from other attorneys.  Many firms keep the pressure off of their young attorneys when it comes to networking, preferring your focus to be on billing hours and generating revenue directly to the firm.  However, this will not be the case forever.  Eventually, you will probably be looked upon to generate your own business.  The tricky part is, while cultivating relationships to the point of generating business can be a lengthy process, often the window between the time you are expected to start trying to bring in business and the time you are expected to have produced results can be small. 

Now, you may be saying, “Wait a minute.  What’s wrong with being a loyal member of my firm that continues to generate tons of revenue by being a worker bee my whole career?  Doesn’t the firm need someone of my skill to take on the work that the head partners bring in?”  My short answers to those questions are “nothing” and “yes.”  But here are my longer answers….

Integrity and loyalty are great virtues.  Sure, there is nothing wrong with being the offensive lineman who works his tail off and never ruffles feathers.  And yes, skilled attorneys are always in high demand.  Here is the problem though — they also are in high supply, while skilled business generators are in comparatively low supply.  A firm will always put a stronger emphasis on those who can bring in the work AND do the work over those who can just do the work.  And, as unfair as it may sound, most firms also prefer a masterful networker with mediocre skills over an attorney with excellent legal skills.  The thought process is to bring in the work and we will find skilled attorneys to handle it, never the other way around. 

This is the mindset you must have when it comes to networking as a young attorney.  You want to be in the “high demand, short supply” category every time. 

Today is all about setting the mindset.  We will talk more about networking next week!

If you enjoy this topic area, my law partner Frank Ramos also has a daily blog which is devoted entirely to practice tips for young lawyers.  You can find it at http://tipsforyounglawyers.wordpress.com.

 

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