Without respect, your legal career can only go so far. Get great advice on earning and keeping the respect of your clients and peers.
Respect is a necessity if you hope you build and maintain a successful legal career. But at the same time, just because you are a lawyer doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed respect, you have to earn it.
To help, we have created a list of specific qualities that are common among well-respected attorneys.
Follow along and use these examples to start commanding the respect you deserve as a successful lawyer!
11. They are informed
People are attracted to and respect those with the best information. The legal industry is incredibly diverse with different practice areas and personalities, so staying informed helps immensely.
You don’t have to know absolutely everything about the industry to be a respected lawyer, but you have to at least be informed about more than just yourself and your practice. You need to be up-to-date on current best practices and should showcase your eagerness to seek out new information as well.
12. They limit your accessibility
At first glance limiting your accessibility can sound like a bad idea for gaining respect. However, by making yourself “too accessible” you create the potential for someone to abuse your time (this goes for both clients AND peers).
Think about the client that calls you nonstop at the office, constantly demanding updates on their case. Now imagine you told that client they could contact you anytime.
The same goes for appointments. Ensure the clients meet you at the appointed time rather than showing up when they feel like it.
Establishing business hours and appointments sets boundaries on your time. Granted, there are emergencies where a client might need you outside of normal business hours, but be clear about what an actual client emergency entails.
13. They communicate effectively
All great lawyers are also effective communicators. Their ability to clearly express thoughts and ideas helps to foster a better understanding with those around them.
This is not just limited to speaking. It’s also relevant to both written and nonverbal communication. Transparency is the key to effective communication, when people understand you they feel more connected.
14. They know when to say “no”
Saying “no” doesn’t always have to result in confrontation or hurt feelings. It simply enforces what you will and will not do. It is essential for lawyers to learn to say “no.”
Psychologist and author, Camille Preston, discusses how saying no works to set boundaries, establishes positive relationships and helps you keep your business in mind.
“Building good fences—setting boundaries—is one of the most important skills to master for both personal and professional growth. And one of the most important aspects of a good fence is the ability to say no to the people, activities and engagements that we do not enjoy or that do not advance us personally or professionally.”
As a lawyer, you are not obligated to take any work you don’t want or do anything unethical just to maintain the relationship.
15. They keep their finances intact
Some might say that your finances are no one else’s business. But for a law firm, bad financial management can spell doom for your practice.
Even if you’re the top practicing law firm in your area, poor financial management can be enough to force you to downsize or even close up shop. Either instance will hurt your reputation as a lawyer, and remember, your reputation follows you no matter what.
Bad news travels like wildfire and if a potential client or colleague hears about your financial status, you may lose their respect.
Always make sure your finances remain a priority and follow money management best practices carefully.
16. They take risks
People respect those who take risks.
Now, we don’t mean you have to base jump off the Empire State Building. What we are suggesting involves taking strategic, responsible and ethical marketing and business risks in your firm.
“Taking risks opens you up to new challenges and opportunities which allow you to grow mentally,” says life coach and career expert, Stacia Pierce.
Such risks for lawyers are careful and thought out. In addition, growing accustomed to taking risks gives you the reputation of being more than just the average attorney.
New York attorney Joleena Louis is a perfect example of a lawyer who takes risks. She left a salaried position at a law firm to create her own solo practice. And since then has taken risks with her firm’s marketing techniques to create a practice that is the envy of her peers.
17. They set realistic expectations and goals
Expectations and goals encompass every part of a lawyer’s world, but being realistic is necessary if you want to have any chance of living up to the goals you set.
Clients especially want to know that a lawyer’s claims are attainable. Over promising can quickly get you in trouble if you are consistently unable to deliver.
Always double-check that what you’re promising can be achieved and never make promises you cannot keep.
18. They treat others with respect
Lawyers who treat clients and colleagues how they want to be treated are always respected. They appreciate your ability to adapt to their needs and wants.
For example, some clients may want you to tread softly with details while others just want you to be direct and honest. This shows you respect how they feel and will lead to a stronger relationship.
19. They keep their personal life in order
Like your finances, your personal life is something that should be no one’s business; however, it can inadvertently impact a lawyer’s professional image.
Respectable lawyers know how to successfully separate work time and play time. They also don’t let personal problems affect their professional relationships.
There are times when your personal life will take precedence, but taking appropriate measures to inform others during these times will help maintain that respect.
20. They respect themselves
People respect those who respect themselves. Plain and simple.
Lawyers that exhibit respect for themselves stand up for their beliefs and are confident in their abilities. You’re a beacon of positivity and even if you are in a tough situation, you must persevere and get the job done. There is no other option.