Friday, February 24, 2012

Five Qualities of Successful Lawyers

Five Qualities of Successful Lawyers

During this day and age of limited time and resources I am constantly being asked to boil success down to a handful of qualities. Everybody wants the five "secrets" to success.

While I am hard pressed to limit the qualities of successful lawyers to just five things, I can give you five qualities that are common among all successful people.

Incidentally, these five qualities were not developed by me.  They were developed by a guy named Napoleon Hill as a result of a 20 year study he conducted on successful business people.

Good old Napoleon came up with 16 laws of success as a result of this study.  All of Hill's laws can be applied to attorneys but there are five in particular that separate the winning attorneys from the moderately successful attorneys.

Here are the five qualities from Napoleon Hill's work that I believe to be most responsible for a lawyer's success:

Quality 1: Successful Lawyers have a Burning Desire to Serve Their Clients: 

This means you must really want to make a difference to your clients and you believe in your ability to do so.  That passion and desire is easily spotted in successful people.  It is a quality that attracts others – clients and referring attorneys – to you like a magnet.

If you are currently practicing law and you do not have a passion for it, consider a career change.

Quality 2:  Successful Lawyers Make Use of Specialized Knowledge: 

Every attorney has specialized knowledge of the law (compared to a non-attorney).  But successful attorneys also have the specialized knowledge of how to build and run a law firm. They have specialized knowledge on how to build systems to set their practice up for success.  They have specialized knowledge in business strategy and they know how to deploy their resources toward an area of need in the market.  They know how to attract clients to their law firm and persuade those clients to retain them. 

Specialized knowledge goes well beyond the law.  It extends to the knowledge necessary to build and grow a thriving law firm. 

Quality 3: Successful Lawyers are Decisive:

This is a quality that stands out in a good lawyer.  They assimilate information and then they make a decision.  You have to make correct decisions and you have to do it in a way that projects confidence in yourself and in the people around you.

Let's face it; if you have the will, you can recover from almost any mistake you make in life. 

However you may never be able to recapture an opportunity that presents itself if you don't make a decision.  Great opportunities – golden opportunities – only come along so often – and you need to be decisive to take advantage of them.  Napoleon Hill found that decisiveness was a key quality in successful people and I could not agree more.

Quality 4: Successful Attorneys Set Goals:

Successful people are goal oriented. This means they have actually taken the time to think about where they want to be in five years, ten years and twenty years. 

If you want to achieve significant success you need to first define what success is.  That means setting goals. 

If you have never done any goal setting exercises, try this:

  • Pick out five things you would like to accomplish between now and the end of the year.
  • Write these five things down on a sheet of paper.
  • Fold the paper up and put it in your pocket.
  • Review this sheet of paper every time you eat a meal.?

You will be amazed at the results.

When you write your goals down your subconscious mind automatically goes to work to try to help you achieve them.  You will find yourself drawn to activities that will bring you closer to your goals.

Once you become comfortable with this process, conduct a similar exercise, setting goals for the next five years. 

Quality 5: Successful Attorneys Tap into the Collective Intelligence of Others

This is critically important.  You need to have a group of people you can trust to give you honest feedback on your ideas and performance.  You must have a group of like-minded people who know and understand what you are going through and can help you achieve your goals.

This last one really resonates with me because when I started my own practice I was a one person operation.  After having worked my entire career in big firms, I suddenly found myself without a sounding board for ideas.  This lead to a stifling of my creativity.

As my business has grown I have actively sought out successful people to bounce my ideas off of.  This process has been phenomenally value in many ways.  Every lawyer needs a handful of people in whom he can confide. 

When a lawyer comes to me and says he needs help with his law firm, I review these five characteristics with him.  Almost always, the struggling lawyer has not developed any of these qualities in himself.  That's when I ask him a critical question:

"Are you willing to adopt these five qualities and use them in your law practice?"

You see, part of Napoleon Hill's study revealed that successful people are not born with these qualities.  They developed them over time.  Success is learned behavior. 

So I ask you now:

Are you willing to adopt these five qualities and incorporate them into your law practice?

Edited by: Lawyer Asad

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