Bill Henderson has an excellent post over at the Legal Profession Blog on legal education and how it prepares (or fails to prepare) students for what most of them will do – work in solo, small, or medium law offices. Here are some points he makes regarding real world skills or practices that lead to success in these environments:
- Listening to clients–it is amazing (a) how unnatural this skill is for most lawyers and (b) how it can revolutionize your career if you learn how to do it.
- Updating your client monthly with a (free) status report–well-informed clients are usually more satisfied, less likely to complain, more likely to pay the bill, and more likely to refer business.
- Leveraging technology to increase office efficiency, including the importance of paying for high-quality training–few people are more tech-savvy than the solo and small firm crowd. Why? It is really a matter of financial survival.
- Learning to say “no” to matters outside your area of competency or to a client who has unrealistic expectations–which is extremely hard to do when you are experiencing cash flow problems. Yet, in small firm practice, poor judgment has serious and potentially irreversible financial consequences.
- The importance of networking, reputation, and not being a jerk–the most successful small firm lawyers enjoy relationships with people as an end in themselves. And from these relationships flow tremendous referral business.