by Chip Gentry
“What if I am not successful?” “What if I am not very good at bringing in clients?” “What if I can’t handle the pressure?” Those and other questions are common. If you could remove fear from all of your decisions, how many more things would you try? In my opinion, when one decides to try the private practice of law, the opportunity for accomplishment is great. Is there fear? Absolutely. However, are there rewards that can add happiness and fulfillment in your life? No doubt about it. I believe there are 10 tips that will improve your ability to succeed in private practice. Here is the first tip:
1. WORK WITH FRIENDS. “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not quite so equal, people STILL want to do business with their friends.” – Jeffrey Gitomer. The key to anything in life is to surround yourself with people you like and people that like you. The same goes for your professional career. Be friends with your co-workers. Be friends with your clients. How many people go to work each and every day and don’t appreciate the folks they work with? Mutual respect is lacking. Mistrust is rampant. To be successful, you have to be inspired, motivated, and striving for a common goal. When you work with people you like and those that like you, the energy from those relationships spills over into your work. Clients notice. Judges notice. Courthouse employees notice. Opposing attorneys notice. Juries notice. On the other hand, if you are miserable, your work product will suffer, people will notice, and your career will suffer. Take ownership of working with friends. Take ownership of becoming friends with your clients. Before the days of smart phones, I carried around, literally, a little black book to every court appearance. I would make certain to introduce myself to the bailiffs, the court clerks, the court reporters, and others. I would write their name down, the context I met them, and anything I learned over time about them. During the ensuing weeks and years, I was able to have specific conversations with them about their kids, their hobbies, and how current events affect their lives. I built solid relationships. It was far more than “please get me the file.” I was recognized, liked, and respected. If you think that courthouse personnel and the judges don’t talk about what they think of individual attorneys, think again. If you don’t think those opinions affect decisions, think again. Be friendly. Work with friends. Become friends with those you interact with. Success will come.