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How to Be a Practicing Attorney: Advice from a Law Firm Founder

Sean M. Cleary

How to Be a Practicing Attorney: Advice from a Law Firm Founder

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Sean M. Cleary is a Miami-based personal injury attorney and the founder and president of The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, which opened in 2005.  Here, he answers a few common questions about practicing law and shares a few insights for future attorneys.

How did you find out what kind of law you want to practice?

I always knew that I do not want to work in a large law firm. My goal was to start my own law firm. At the beginning of your career, you need to recognize your skills, find out what you are good at, and how you can stand out. Read the blogs of successful law firms and see which areas attract you. Follow the legal news to learn about interesting and difficult cases. Listen to both your mind and heart. Passion and enthusiasm are essential for success in any career.

How do you balance your career with family life and other necessities?

I am the founder of a personal injury and trial litigation law firm. But, I am also a married man and I have two children. I love diving and fishing. I have a Master Scuba Diver Trainer instructor certification.

Do not put your life on hold for the sake of your career. Career is important to me, I love my job, but it is important to make your life, to value your relationships, and your family. However, as law students you must be aware, that to have the best career options, you will have to spend several years working full-time to learn how to practice law and to gain precious experience.

What are the most important skills of a successful lawyer?

In my opinion, critical thinking, working under pressure, practical experience, continuous learning, interacting, and getting along with all kinds of people are essential skills for a successful lawyer. Delegate the responsibilities and budget your time accordingly so that your obligations fit into your daily schedule along with everything else you need to accomplish. For me, it is also essential to handle each case with honesty, integrity, and a high level of compassion.

What do you expect from your clients?

Be on time for appointments and be completely honest about all facts concerning your case. Take my advice if you ask for it, be patient, and understand that most cases require time and attentive research. Value our work, we invest precious time and energy in each of our cases.

What advice would you give to law school students?

Seek what truly makes you passionate and dedicated. Reach out to lawyers that you admire and ask for their advice, help, and guidance. It is also essential for a healthy and accomplished life, to schedule time for yourself. Whether you take an hour to read a book, watch a movie or hit the gym, or just have a cappuccino in your favorite café, do something to take your mind off studying for once in a while. As I mentioned before I am an avid scuba diver, so I really know how to relax.