Avoid The Herd: 5 Ways To Stand Out As A Lawyer
Congratulations! You graduated from law school and passed the bar. So now you can relax and bask in the glow of your accomplishments, right? Wrong.
Every lawyer had to graduate from law school and pass the bar, so you haven't really accomplished anything. So what should you do to stand out from the other 1.3 million lawyers that have done exactly the same thing that you have done?
Here are 5 ways to stand out as a lawyer.
Avoid The Common Path. Graduate from law school, take and pass the bar, get a job, make partner. This is the common path for lawyers. But times have changed. According to the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), the Class of 2015 secured the fewest private legal jobs since the class of 1996. Additionally, the average wait time to make partner is 10.5 years.
So should you continue to send out resumes and cover letters like every other lawyer to get a job that doesn't exist? How about spending over a decade trying to make partner? More importantly, do you think any of these things make you stand out as a lawyer? If you answered "no" to these 3 questions, then keep reading because the common path is not for you.
Build A Book Of Business. If you had a six- or seven-figure book of business, do you think you would stand out from other lawyers? You bet! If you had your own law firm, the book of business would allow you to build your law practice. If you were looking to join a law firm, the firm's hiring partner would have a hard time turning you away when you have a book of business that you bring to the table.
So how do you build a book of business? By getting clients. And making money in the process of getting clients. And most importantly, remembering that it takes time. You are building a book of business.
Continue Learning. Most lawyers (and people in general) believe that learning ended with school. In fact, students beat a path to the bookstore to return their books each year. Or they simply throw or give them away with the specific intent of never opening another book again. What a mistake.
The most successful people constantly read. Reading opens your mind to possibilities and ideas that, when acted upon, can make you stand out as a lawyer.
Become An Expert. Becoming an expert in your chosen law practice (otherwise known as "specializing" or "focusing", depending on your jurisdiction) is one of the best ways to stand out from other lawyers. There are more than one way to become an expert. You can establish yourself as an expert by becoming board-certified in a specific area of law, which is probably the hardest and takes the longest to do.
If you want to establish yourself as an expert without becoming board-certified, you can be a frequent speaker, lecturer or writer on a legal topic in a specific practice area, appear as a guest on a legal podcast, tv show, radio show, or web show, or host CLEs, meetups, or other talks on a specific legal topic.
Think and Act Like An Entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are comfortable being uncomfortable. They embrace the unknown. They grind and hustle. They view mistakes as learning opportunities, so they are not afraid to make mistakes.
To stand out from other lawyers, you have to do the things that other lawyers won't do. Instead of just opening up a law firm and believing that clients will automatically come to you, you have to make sure that people know who you are by grinding and hustling. Instead of being comfortable drawing a steady paycheck or being a law firm drone like the other associates and partners there, you have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable idea of marketing yourself and building a book of business (see above) so that you can work at the law firm because you want to, not because you have to.
This is the way that entrepreneurs think and act. It would be wise to take a page from their book if you want to stand out from other lawyers.
Success in the legal profession is not guaranteed. But if you follow the tips above, you'll be well on your way to achieving success.
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