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 often quibble with the term “rainmaker” because I think it too often describes lawyers more interested in getting new clients than in keeping current ones. However, because “10 Rules for Business Development,” and “10 Rules for Keeping Clients So You Don’t Have to Replace Them” don’t have the same nice ring as “ 10 Rules of Rainmaking,” I’ll use the term here. Let me know what you think:
1. You’ll never be passionate about rainmaking until you start searching for clients you’ll be passionate about serving. Remember, a great client is one for whom you’d work for free, but one who’d never ask you to.
2. The best way to get new clients is to impress old ones. Measure the happiness of your existing clients with the same diligence you measure your time, so you can work less on developing new business and more on deserving it.
3. While there are hundreds of “strategies” to get new clients, there’s only one strategy to keep them: serve them well.
4. When meeting a potential client, don’t sell your competence, sell your compassion. They must know you care about them before they’ll care about you.
5. The single best way to get new clients is to ask your best ones, "How do I get more clients like you?"
6. A client will never be as surprised by great legal work as they will by by good service.
7. Your new client’s definition of a “great” lawyer is probably far different from yours. You must understand their expectations before you’ll ever be able to meet them.
8. Recognize that while it is usually easier to ask for new business from prospective clients than it is to ask for more business from current ones, it is rarely more profitable.
9. If your answer to “What kind of clients are you looking for?” is “Ones who pay,” you’ll get paying clients. Terrible paying clients.
10. The best thing you can promise a prospective client is more sleep. Ask what problems keep them up at night, and build your practice to solve them.
I'd love your input, and feel free to add any of your "Rules" in the comments. If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series: Ten Tweets about Twitter, Ten Resolutions for the New Year, Ten Rules for Law Students, 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’ve always thought the idea from this post was a powerful way to understand the gift of time and what you can accomplish in a year:
Resolve to Count Cards, using this this incredibly powerful exercise I first ran across in 2006. From an article in the now-defunct Worthwhile Magazine (by creativity guru Eric Maisel) comes this gem:
Get seven decks of cards with similar backs. Lay out all seven decks on your living room rug, backs showing. This is a year of days (give or take). Let the magnitude of a year sink in. Experience this wonderful availability of time. (This is a powerful exercise.)
Carefully count the number of days between two widely-separated holidays, for instance New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July. Envision starting a large project on that first holiday (today!) and completing it by the second.
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