April 17, 2013
We’ve been reviewing the four components that make up a lawyer’s brand: technical skills, client service, dynamic approach and personal qualities. Having a dynamic approach to your practice means that you look at it from a big picture, longer-term perspective. Instead of flatly moving from assignment to assignment doing what’s expected of you and nothing more, you stretch yourself each step of the way. You think through what the next steps of a project might be. It means you are a forward thinker about what’s going on in the legal industry, your particular practice and the industries of your clients.
Having a growth approach to how you practice not only benefits you in that it expands your skill set and your knowledge base, it makes you more competitive, more efficient , more versatile. In short, it enables you to add more value.
Here are some questions to ask to help you have a dynamic approach your practice:
1.) Save and Shave: If you’re working on an assignment that you’ve already done in the past, ask yourself how you can save time? Can you implement a precedent? Can you build on knowledge that you now have from the previous time? Then, challenge yourself to shave some time off how long it takes from the last time. Even if it’s just five minutes it will challenge you to be more efficient. Sometimes over-thinking and overworking is the enemy of value and quality. Just bringing this level of a strategic the strategic thinking to your assignment will add a layer of value that wasn’t there the last time. And, clients and supervisors always appreciate saving time and/or money.
2.) Past, Present and Future: Think about the clients you serve. The niche you may be in. The industry those clients are in. What was going on five years ago? What’s going on now? What is coming down the pike in five years? Think through what that might mean. How does that inform how you practice today? How does it inform how you might practice five years from now? How can you get out in front of that for yourself; for your practice group/organization; for your client’s? Are there articles or client alerts you should be writing? Are there checklists you can be developing to help your client with what might be coming? Are there presentations and lectures you should start delivering to establish you as an expert or thought leader.
3.) Lessons Learned: If you’ve drafted a document or done a particular assignment several times, sit down, take five minutes and think through what have you learned from the first time you did it to the last time. What do you know now that you didn’t know then? For example, what are the top five problems that could come up and merger agreement and how do you work around them?
4.) Style, Approach, Philosophy: Ask yourself the question: what style of lawyer am I? What’s my philosophy and approach to things? So for example, if you’re a litigator, are you a “dog with a bone” deposer? Do you leave no stone unturned when it comes to trail preparation? If you’re a corporate attorney, are you a “nice guy” s negotiator? Just being able to answer these questions or work them into a conversation with a client, whether internal or external, or a supervisor will send them a signal that you really think long, hard and strategically about not just “what” but “how” you’re practicing law.