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Over a year ago, I wrote 15 Thoughts for Law Students. It was one of my first “Rules” posts, though I wasn’t calling them that at the time. Since then, it has been one of the more popular items on this blog, and was even republished in the Canadian Bar Association magazine.
I’ve revised it just a bit, and shortened it to 10 “rules” for the law students out there. Enjoy.
1. Law school is a trade school. The only people who don’t believe this to be true are the professors and deans.
2. Being good at writing makes you a good law student. Being good at understanding makes you a good lawyer. Being good at arguing makes you an ass.
3. You can learn more about client service by working at Starbucks for three weeks than you can by going to law school for three years.
4. Law school doesn’t teach you to think like a lawyer. Law school teaches you to think like a law professor. There’s a huge difference.
5. The people who will help you the most in your legal career are sitting next to you in class. Get to know them outside of law school. They are pretty cool people. They are even cooler when you stop talking about the Rule Against Perpetuities.
6. Law is a precedent-based profession. It doesn’t have to be a precedent-based business. Challenge the status quo. Somebody has to.
7. When you bill by the hour, getting your work done in half the time as your peers doesn’t get you rewarded. It gets you more work.
8. Your reputation as a lawyer begins now. People won’t remember your class rank as much as they’ll remember how decent and honest you were. They’ll really remember if you were a jerk.
9. There are plenty of things you don’t know. There are even more things you’ll never know. Get used to it. Use your ignorance to your benefit. The most significant advantage you possess over those who’ve come before you is that you don’t believe what they do.
10. People don’t tell lawyer jokes just because they think they are funny. They tell lawyer jokes because they think they are true. Spend your career proving them wrong.
If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series: Ten Rules for the New Economy, Ten Rules for New Solos, Ten Rules of Legal Innovation, Ten Rules of Legal Technology, Ten Rules of Hourly Billing and Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing.
Also, if you’d like to get more ideas like these in real time, follow me on Twitter.
I’m going to be re-sharing a few dozen of my favorite posts from this blog over the next several weeks.
1. Resolve to be better to everyone. Start with yourself.
2. Resolve to choose your customers as carefully as friends, knowing that you’ll work best when they’re one in the same.
3. Resolve to know your business better. Recognize that being good at what you do is unimportant if you’re not good at being in the business you’re in.
4. Resolve to stop doing the things your customers don’t pay you to do, unless you love doing them so much, you’d do them for free. Because you are.
5. Resolve to value your life by the things you experience instead of the things you possess.
6. Resolve to eliminate the things in your life that wake you up in the middle of the night — unless you’re married to them, or they need to go outside for a walk.
7. Resolve to become more useful to your customers. Stop thinking about what they expect from you, and focus instead on what they don’t expect from you.
8. Resolve to help the people who work with you (and for you) become better at what they do. Give them what they need to excel at their jobs, and you’ll find you’re more likely to excel at yours.
9. Resolve to understand the difference between what you do for clients and how long you take to do it. They care about the former, and can’t understand why you charge for the latter.
10. Resolve to do the work you long to do, instead of the work you’ve been doing for too long. Follow your passions, honor your principles and strive to add value to every relationship you’re in. “Next Year” begins now. Get started on making it great!
Keith Ferrazzi shares a few simple “Relationship Rituals” that should be on every professional’s weekly checklist:
1. First thing every day after you turn on your computer, ping one friend and one acquaintance.
2. Every weekend, invite someone else into an activity that you normally do alone (walks, gym sessions, gardening, shopping trips).
3. Pick a day for a weekly check-in with a colleague/associate/friend, during which you share a success, a challenge, and make a commitment for the upcoming week.
4. Every Friday, send a broadcast – status update, blog post, Tweet, etc.
5. Host a monthly dinner or happy hour.
What are the things you do every week to maintain your client relationships?
If you’ve got a big client, odds are they’ve got a pet project. Whether it is for a community organization, charity, civic group or volunteer event, supporting the causes your clients do can deepen your relationship with them while benefiting those in need. That’s why, in 2010 you need to Resolve to Take Care of…
Everyone makes mistakes. Even lawyers. That's why, in 2010, you should Resolve to Apologize Better. Why apologize? Apologies increase client loyalty and reduce malpractice exposure. But how do you apologize better? Practice! Here's a great guide from Psychology Today (about apologizing to women) that sets out the six mandatory elements a good apology: 1. Acknowledge…
Do you have Shiny Shiny Syndrome? I do. Here’s a post from January 2012 about a technique I still use: Many of the attorneys I work with suffer from the same thing I do: Shiny Shiny Syndrome. You suffer from S3 when you regularly give in to an overwhelming urge to start working on something new…
Lots of lawyers claim to be “results-focused.” Clients want good results, after all, and marketing yourself as one “focused” on delivering them has got to be a lot better (to clients, anyway) than being “timesheet-focused.” However, I think many lawyers who focus only on the result are hurting their clients (and their own practices). Let…
Clients crave predictability. They find comfort in knowing what to expect — especially in stressful situations like the ones you handle for them everyday. But how can you deliver more certainty to your clients? After all, outcomes are impossible to predict and matters ebb and flow from beginning to end. You keep your clients “in…
Lately, I’ve been giving lots of presentations, and have six more coming up before the Summer ends. I work pretty hard on my speeches (here are a few examples of my slides) and thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve learned the hard way in this Ten Rules post. Enjoy! 1. The greatest gift…
As 2009 draws to a close, we all find ourselves with lots of stuff on our "to do" lists for the next year. Whether your thinking about finding time to meet your deadlines, accomplish your goals or even follow your resolutions, there never seems to be enough time to do it all. As you begin…
As 2008 draws to a close, it is natural to think about New Year’s resolutions.* We think about our businesses, our clients and ourselves and resolve to do better next year. If you’d like some help, or just some inspiration, here are Ten Resolutions for the New Year. Enjoy: 1. Resolve to be better to…
Almost every lawyer has a “big fish” they’d like to land. Whether that fish is an individual client, a corporation, an insurance company or even a great referral source, your big fish isn’t going to catch itself. And what better place to find advice on catching “big fish” than on a website called TakeMeFishing? Some…
In January 2016 I’ll have been “writing” this blog for 12 years. I put “writing” in quotes because the truth is I’ve written it for nine, ignored it for two and abandoned it for one. It still gets a handful of visits every day, and I regularly dip into old posts for writing I do…
I’m a fan of Haiku, and have been doing an exercise based upon it for several years now at conferences and law firm retreats. Instead of the 5-7-5 syllable format, I ask my audiences to answer three questions, using just five words for the first question, seven for the second and five again for the…
I really like Twitter. For those who follow me, you know that I try to share lots of legal-themed tips, thoughts and ideas. In fact, most of my Ten Rules posts started out on Twitter — where I’ll test 15-25 “rules” to see which ones work best before picking the ten favorites. However, there’s lots…
A few days ago, I wrote about how I was suffering from The Curse of Almost Happy. I realized that being “close to” fulfillment in my life and career wasn’t close at all. So, as I’ve spent this past weekend knocking off several things on my “To Do for Too Long” list, it hit me…
What confuses your clients? What are the things that your clients never seem to really understand? Is it the directions to your office, your retainer agreement or their monthly bill? No matter how much you deserve it, undivided attention from clients is a rarity today. Whether it is because of their email pinging, cell phones…
Do you know all the kinds of things your firm does? Perhaps you should take a page (literally) from the restaurant industry and create a “menu” of your services. Though you may not decide to use it with clients, merely deciding what goes on the menu — and what gets left off — makes you…
Some of you may know about Kendeo, the design and strategy consulting company I own where I do all my ‘non-legal’ work. I often tell people that “we draw pictures of hard-to-understand things,” and that’s pretty much true. We had some fun with our Holiday card this year and I really wanted to share it…
A fantastic breakdown (with clever visuals) about working with the four types of creative people: https://t.co/YaZD5F5ZWI
- Wednesday Jul 20 - 9:50pm
“Don’t hire a dog, then bark yourself” – David Ogilvy https://t.co/2GqIU5hiYc
- Wednesday Jul 20 - 5:57pm
Some pretty solid suggestions here: 52 Obtainable Ways to Simplify Your Life https://t.co/9xQnZUfjIA
- Wednesday Jul 20 - 1:03pm
A reminder for lawyers: machines aren't coming for your job, just for many of the tasks you do in your job today. https://t.co/Jm9T32G6ik
- Tuesday Jul 19 - 9:50pm
So much wisdom here. “Everybody has someone they want to hang out with who won’t hang out with them,” https://t.co/88dJh9LZY5
- Tuesday Jul 19 - 5:57pm