How To Build A Professional Development Support Network

By Joleena Louis - August 8, 2018
How To Build A Professional Development Support Network

In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, New York divorce lawyer Joleena Louis shares how her professional support network has helped her rapidly grow her firm.

Solo life can feel isolated, especially if your practice is virtual. That’s why it’s important to go out and network with other professionals and attorneys.

As an introvert, building relationships has been challenging but rewarding, and not just by increasing referrals but also helping me become a better lawyer.

Since focusing on building relationships I’ve come to build what I like to call a professional development network. This is a network of people that I can go to for advice, vent to, and learn from. All things that have helped propel my practice in the past year. My network makes me a better lawyer and a stronger business owner.

Some of the things I get from my professional development network include:

My biggest source of support is a group of women solo and small firm founders (Boss Lady, Esq. Facebook group). I’ve learned so much invaluable information from this group of over 5,000 women, made some amazing professional connections, and have made a few real friends.

This year alone I’ve made over $50k in referrals from the group and learned many tips that have helped me run my practice more efficiently and get more clients.

From that group, I’ve made personal connections with some local attorneys I can turn to with procedural questions, questions about local judges, and just general advice on NY family law cases. We message each other daily and bounce ideas off of each other about the day-to-day running of our practices. I truly believe the collective knowledge of this support system has helped make a better lawyer.

Finding fellow lawyers for your professional support network dream team

Here are some ideas to help you expand your network and get connected.

Where You Work: Start with the lawyers you work with every day. If you are in an office building or a shared office suite like Law Firms Suites, make connections with your suitemates. Or if you see the same lawyers in court every day, offer to take them to lunch to get to know them better.

Bar Associations: Get active in your local bar association and go to meetings and social events. Join the solo and small firm committee and go to their events to connect with other solos.

Conferences and CLE’s: I always go to conferences and CLE’s alone to force myself to meet and interact with other lawyers. If I go with friends, I’m less likely to reach out to new people.

Social Networking: Some of the most helpful lawyers in my network are people I have yet to meet in person. I connect with a lot of people online and build relationships with them. I’m friends with lawyers as far away as Australia! Connecting with and learning from with people from different places with different ideas has certainly helped me push my business to the next level.

Participating is key

In order to make your professional development network work for you, you have to participate.

Build those relationships and add value.

Meet people for coffee, follow each other on social media, send links to useful articles. Just make the effort. The effort you put in will come back to you.

Being a solo attorney does not have to mean being isolated or alone. Build a network that will help you grow.

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About Joleena Louis

Joleena Louis is a matrimonial and family law attorney at Joleena Louis Law, a firm she founded after leaving a boutique matrimonial firm in Brooklyn. Joleena is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Financial District location. Her weekly blog series Things I Wish I Knew... explores her thought process and experiences in her transition from small law firm employee to successful solo practice entrepreneur. Follow Joleena on Twitter.

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