There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be a Lawyer

Keith Robert Lee

Decades go by in which things are flat and there isn’t any change. People trudge by in their jobs and go through the motions at work. There isn’t any innovation, creative thinking, or demands on efficiency or productivity. This ain’t one of those decades.

The practice of law is in an incredible state of flux. But in times of great change, there are also great opportunities. You just have to be ready to move quickly when they present themselves. There are a number of things you can do to be prepared:

Pay attention to the news outside of the legal world. Be sensitive to the overall business climate in relation to your clients. This means caring about things like industry trends, the housing market, or local zoning laws. You can’t bury your head in the sand. You are supposed to be an educated professional. People come to you for guidance and counseling. You need to be able to explain things in a way that places them in context with what else is going on in the world.

Immerse yourself deep in the study of your niche area of practice—then study an ancillary one. You need to have deep understanding of your practice area, but if you study it to the exclusion of everything else it can become easy to become too focused. Studying ancillary fields will help provide perspective on your practice.

Learn about technology, embrace it. Don’t be left behind because you think it’s not for you. Utilize what makes sense for your practice; abandon what does not. But don’t get caught up chasing after the latest shiny toy. Technology is just a tool, what matters is how you use it.

Develop exceptional personal relationship skills. Write handwritten notes. Reply to calls and emails promptly. Be genuine. Put other people first—especially your clients.

Get out of the office. Go to bar events. Go to places where your clients will be: trade shows, associations, the local watering hole, whatever.

Grow—intellectually and physically. Read challenging works and learn from the classics. Join a book club. Start an exercise program. Join a gym. Find a hobby. You’ll gain new perspectives on the world, be more interesting, and meet new people.

Chance Favors the Prepared

Position yourself so that you can seize an opportunity when it arises. Feeling sorry for yourself or the economy or job market is probably the most useless thing you could be doing with your time. Again, don’t wait for opportunities to fall into your lap; create your own opportunities. Let everyone else lament over the state of the economy or jobs or whatever else—stick to improving yourself, your practice, and providing high quality, innovative, and timely services. While others are busy crying over spilled milk, you can be the lawyer people will be turning to when they’re in need.

It’s a crazy time to be a lawyer. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Excerpted from The Marble and the Sculptor by Keith Robert Lee, published by the American Bar Association. Available at a discount to ABA members.

Keith Robert Lee

Keith Lee is an attorney with Hamer Law Group, LLC and advises individuals and business clients on a variety of legal issues including: estate planning, contract disputes, litigation, and intellectual property. Keith is the founder and editor-in-chief of Associate’s Mind, one of the most popular legal blogs in the Unites States. Associate’s Mind has been linked to by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, ABA Journal, dozens of blogs and websites, and has been featured as an Editor’s Pick at the Browser. It is frequently featured in the national newsletter, Technolawyer, and many of its articles were syndicated to LexisNexis. Associate’s Mind was selected as one of the “Blawg 100″ by the ABA Journal in 2011. He writes a weekly column for Above the Law as well.