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.