Career Advice for the Long Road: Build Relationships

The number one piece of career advice I have received is that being a successful lawyer means you need to prioritize the building and cultivating of relationships – relationships with colleagues, with clients, and with the community.  The relationships you make both in and outside of the practice of law are what sustain you for the long road.  Early in your career, forging relationships of trust with partners and other colleagues based on your work ethic and work product is what will provide you with a steady stream of billable hours within your firm.  Those relationships lead the way to your access to clients and new opportunities – taking depositions, arguing motions, and trying cases.

Relationships built with clients is what brings them back asking for you.  It’s a given that clients want good work product and results.  That’s how your reputation as a lawyer is built.  But when given a list of reputable lawyers, they are more than likely going to pick the one they like working with. Liking you is more than just liking the briefs you have written for them.  It’s about taking the time to get to know them and their company.  During the life of a case, you need to build a rapport, find some common ground, and be responsive.  After a case, you need to remember that the relationship does not have to end just because your service is no longer required.  The follow up after the case is just as important. Your continued concern and commitment to them and their company after a case ends is what keeps you in their mind when another legal problem arises that they need assistance with.

Lastly relationships in the community are how you build name recognition and expand your reach.  Those relationships start with your closes friends and family, but do not end there.  Successful lawyers know that it’s important to find groups and organizations they care about and cultivate new relationships to expand their circle of contacts.  This is often the hardest part, especially when our time is already limited by work and family commitments.  But it doesn’t have to be hard.  Be selective with your time.  You don’t have to join every organization or be a member of every board.  Choose organizations or social networks that you care about.    You never know who you might meet along the way that will help guide you to your next opportunity.


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