By Joanna Latimer • January 05, 2017•Careers, Firms and the Private Sector, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job
Today isn’t exactly the perfect time for being a young lawyer at the beginning of legal career: job market is overfilled, competition is vicious, and student debt is at an all-time high. And all these problems are only exacerbated for female lawyers: they have to try harder to prove their competitiveness and use every available weapon to the fullest to achieve maximum efficiency and survive in this cutthroat business. Here are some of the things you should pay special attention to acquiring the much-needed edge over your competitors.
1. You’ll Have to Learn Marketing
We all have strengths and weaknesses. Lawyers know law – but practice shows that most of them are rather miserable at marketing, especially its online variety. On the one hand, it makes them too susceptible to the allure of “quick fix” methods that offer incredible efficiency through simple modifications of their websites. On the other hand, they have a hard time promoting their business. Thus, if you are opening a law firm, be ready to learn how to market it. Go to legal marketing conferences, study marketing books, consult specialists.
2. You Need a Prestigious-Looking Website
The fact that your firm will need a website is hardly a revelation in 2016; but when one looks at homepages of many law firms it becomes painfully obvious that all too often people working for them have no idea about what makes a good website, what they want to tell their potential clients and, when all is said and done, what for they need a website at all. If a company site comes as an afterthought, it is likely to look cheap, ugly and amateurish – not an ideal combination for instilling trust. If you want to produce an encouraging impression, make sure you have a high-quality website – so hire professionals to work on it.
3. You Need to Plan Ahead
And by planning, we mean covering all your bases. Prepare a detailed business and financial plan, think about competitive advantages, do market analysis and write down mission statement – and, most importantly, get in touch with lawyers who already have their own firms and ask them to critique your plan. Don’t be shy – the number of people ready to share their experience is much higher than you might believe, and even if most people you contact refuse, it isn’t going to kill you anyway.
4. You Have to Select a Specific Area of Law
It is one of the most crucial aspects of modern law firms. Times of the lawyers without specialization ready to deal with all kinds of cases are long gone, and if you try something along these lines today, it is going to look downright archaic and demonstrate all too clearly your lack of understanding of how the industry works. Remember that somebody who is trying to be everything for everyone isn’t good at anything in particular. Choose one (or two at the very most) clearly defined areas of law and concentrate on it.
5. You Will Have to Build up Your Network
Lawyers are a community – which is yet another reason not to try to be universal as it makes you a competitor to everyone. Try to establish relations with practicing lawyers from your locale and tell them what area of the law you are going to cover. Once these relations are up and running, most of your referrals are going to come from them.
Establishing a law firm today is difficult and complicated, especially if you are a woman – but it isn’t impossible. Keep these five things in mind, and you will be able to stand firmly on your own two feet.