14/10/2016 by Katherine Memery
What sets truly successful solicitors apart from the rest? Apart from being legally proficient, highly intelligent, driven and committed to a career in the law, most successful lawyers do the following 7 things on a daily basis.
1. Understand your client
The legal sector is a sophisticated, highly competitive, service environment. To be successful, you must understand the needs of your clients and communicate well. Great lawyers don’t advise clients on a purely legal basis, they always see the bigger picture and bear their clients’ business and personal objectives in mind.
2. Think about your firm as a business
Whilst thorough knowledge of the law is taken for granted, commercial acumen is equally important. Operating in a fast-paced, global economy, lawyers must be business-orientated and have a firm understanding of the commercial aspects of their firm
Think commercially sooner rather than later, ideally before you embark on your legal career. If you’re a trainee or a newly qualified lawyer, ask why business decisions were made and when taking instruction, make sure you understand the business motivations behind the task at hand.
You can develop your commercial skills by learning from senior colleagues; identify a mentor who already has a really strong business focus and seek advice.
3. Nurture relationships
You’ll have daily contact with colleagues, clients and other professionals; maintaining relationships with clients and developing relationships with potential clients is vital from a business perspective and can be rewarding, both personally and professionally.
In the long run, your legal expertise will be of little interest to your partners if you cannot contribute by bringing in profitable business. To do this, you’ll need to develop a client base, and now is the perfect time to start. You may not realise it but your relationships with friends and acquaintances from university and law school will be an invaluable asset later in your career so keep in touch. Even if they might not be able to refer clients right now, in a few years’ time, no matter what industry they’re in, your friends and acquaintances might be valuable sources of business and connections.
The ability to build relationships is a crucial part of being successful in business; show your clients that you can not only help them with their legal needs but can engage on a personal level too.
Be true to yourself, maintain high personal values and allow your personality to shine through. Never be afraid to express your opinions. Invest in the people around you, work hard to forge meaningful relationships and enjoy learning about the business aspect of your work.
4. Be flexible
Your workload will sometimes be heavy and unpredictable. Being able to quickly adapt to and deal with changes is key to how successful you’ll be in legal practice.
Things aren’t always going to go as planned, particularly on larger deals where there’s plenty at stake or projects involving many people. When unexpected events do happen, react calmly yet make the most of the change in situation.
5. Communicate well
You must be articulate when communicating both orally and in writing. Express yourself clearly and accurately. Pay close attention to detail, especially when drafting documentation; a single word in the wrong place can alter the emphasis and potentially the legal and business outcome for your client.
It’s not only crucial that your communication is correct grammatically and legally, it must also be appropriate for the client or colleague you’re dealing with. During your daily interactions, you must be able to personalise your communication style to suit your audience; think about their needs, interests and what they expect from you, then tailor your communication.
6. Be ambitious and demonstrate leadership
It’s important from the outset to have a vision of how your career might develop, but be realistic. Having a passion for a particular practice area will cement your commitment and help you to garner the expertise needed to succeed in that specialism.
Exceptional young solicitors are the future law firm leadership. Take the initiative, accept responsibility, put yourself in a position of leadership and move towards important decisions. Project your personal brand from day one and your value will be quickly recognised.
7. Be proactive
While a good solicitor works to meet the needs of their clients, a great solicitor anticipates them. By developing deeper relationships with clients, you’ll be able to better understand their wider needs and add immense value. You’ll then be better-placed to recognise potential problems before they arise and direct them towards a solution.
So remember, business matters, perhaps more than ever before. Great lawyers need much more than a legal understanding and practising certificate. Immerse yourself in the business of your firm and make time to understand your client’s commercial and personal objectives.
By following these steps you’ll soon make your mark. When you’re ready to take the next step in your career, Realm are here to help. Take a look at our jobs page, to browse our latest legal vacancies in Manchester, across the North West and the Midlands. Our consultants recruit for positions at all levels, from legal secretaries to partners. Get in touch for more information.