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Monday, June 29, 2015

How to Be a Successful Lawyer

How to Be a Successful Lawyer

Resource: wiki how
Lawyers have a responsibility to guide their clients through the legal system with both skill and tact. A good lawyer can make all the difference in a client’s case. There are a number of different attributes that it takes to be a successful lawyer. However, the success of a lawyer also depends on how one to chooses to measure success.


Part 1 of 5: Knowing the Law


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1Know your information. Keep yourself up-to-date on your area of law. Be aware of new developments, as laws and rules often change and new cases are being decided every day. States introduce new legislation that affect your area of law practice every day. Federal laws also regularly change.


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2
Conduct research when needed. If you have a non-routine case involving issues that you have not dealt with before, take the time to do the legal research and find the answers. Don’t assume that you know everything, even if you have practiced in the same area of the law for several years. New issues and cases arise every day, and you have to do the research to find the solution to your case.
  • Legal research methods have changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Ensure that you are familiar with the most up-to-date electronic research methods. If you have a subscription to Lexis-Nexis or Westlaw, which are the two most well-known online legal research companies, then you also can get extensive training in using their applications.
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3
Attend continuing legal education (CLE) seminars. Not only are you required to earn a certain number of CLE hours each year in order to maintain your law license, but you gain valuable legal knowledge at these seminars. You often will hear from experts in their respective areas of the law at these seminars and have the change to ask questions that you may have. Additionally, attending CLE seminars gives you a chance to network and exchange information with other attorneys in your area of practice.

Part 2 of 5: Learning Essential Skills


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  1. 1
    Practice critical thinking. In order to be a successful lawyer, you must be able to look at a legal issue from all sides in order to come up with the best solution. Proper analysis will not only help you to identify the legal issue, but help you to develop a sound legal argument to support your client’s position.[1]
    • Make sure you have a clear grasp of all of the pertinent facts before you form your conclusion.
    • Don’t always rely on your client to tell you everything up front. Clients often will not volunteer information because they don’t know what is important and what is not. Ask the questions that are necessary to find out the information that you need.
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    2
    Develop your writing skills. Lawyer often underestimate the writing skills that are needed to be a successful lawyer. The reality is that lawyers spend a great deal of their time filing pleadings and other documents with the court. Almost all of these documents require some degree of writing expertise. You are much more likely to advance your client’s position if you can effectively write. As a general rule, you should create a written argument as follows:[2]
    • Clarify the facts of your case.
    • Identify the legal issue.
    • Determine which laws or regulations apply to your issue.
    • Apply the laws to the facts of your case.
    • Draw a conclusion based on the laws that you have applied to the facts of your case.
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    3
    Work on your oral communication skills. All successful lawyers have excellent communication skills, whether speaking to the court, other lawyers, a jury, or their clients. They must be able to articulate a client’s position to the court, effectively question a witness, argue to a jury, and convince clients to hire them.
    • With respect to clients, a lawyer must be able to obtain all information from a client that is necessary to represent him or her with sensitivity and tact. Lawyers must be able to convince a potential client that they are the right attorney to represent him or her.
    • Attorneys also should be able to effectively communicate with other lawyers. In doing so, they can work toward settlements that are acceptable for all parties involved and effective negotiate on behalf of their clients.
    • In dealing with the court, attorneys should be able to effectively and concisely argue their clients’ positions without any disrespect to opposing counsel or to the court, who may not always embrace their clients’ positions.
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    4
    Familiarize yourself with the courts in which you regularly practice. Every court has its unique practices, and court staff can be very valuable in giving you information that you would not know otherwise. Although you cannot discuss specific cases with judges, they are often willing to discuss different fact scenarios and points of law with you and give you their opinions.
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    5
    Complete a trial practice seminar. Some national organizations offer trial training for those lawyers who regularly represent clients in the courtroom. While all judges and courtrooms are different to some degree, there are certain trial techniques that can be invaluable to you in any court setting. A trial practice seminar can help you learn and improve your trial practice skills.
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    6
    Join a local, state, or national bar association. When you are with other lawyers, you will be able to learn from other more experienced attorneys and exchange ideas. Bar associations often sponsor CLE seminars and other opportunities for learning that can be very valuable to your professional development. You also develop a network of lawyers whom you consult if you have questions about handling particular cases. You also may be able to engage in community service opportunities through your bar association.
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    7
    Find a mentor. Every lawyer, no matter how old, needs a more experienced attorney with whom to discuss cases, try out arguments, and get answers to your questions. This relationship will give you the chance to further your knowledge and try out your ideas on someone else before you take them before the court.
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Part 3 of 5: Exhibiting Civility to Clients, Colleagues, and Judges

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    1
    Speak respectfully to judges and court staff. Listen to them without interrupting. Your professionalism depends on how you present yourself. Being rude to judges or staff will not help you you’re your client.
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    2
    Use tact and grace when dealing with clients. They may get agitated or not like what you have to say, but try to look at the situation from their point of view. However, don't allow your clients to verbally abuse you or make unreasonable demands of you. You don’t have to represent every client that comes along, and you probably shouldn’t!
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    3
    Listen to your client. Never judge, just listen and advise. Even if your client has made a bad decision, which he or she will undoubtedly do at some point throughout the course of your representation, figure out how to best handle the situation and move on.[3]
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    4
    Be honest with the court, your colleagues, and your clients. Being untruthful will get you nowhere and give you a reputation of dishonesty. Plus, your clients will not trust you, which does not translate into repeat business from clients. In extreme cases, dishonesty can put your law license at risk if your state’s disciplinary commission finds that you have violated the professional rules of conduct that govern all lawyers.
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    5
    Question witnesses appropriately. When interrogating a witness, ask appropriate questions relevant to the trial. Don't ridicule the witness if he or she becomes emotional, but maintain professional distance. Keep in mind that special care should be applied to witnesses who are minors or victims of a violent crime. A judge and/or jury will be judging you by the way you treat others during a court proceeding.
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Part 4 of 5: Maintaining a High Level of Ethics

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    1
    Keep up attorney-client confidentiality. A client's case is nobody's business but yours. Disclose that information to the court and to opposing counsel only to the extent that you are required to do so and that is necessary to effectively representing your client.
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    2
    Follow your state’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers. Every state has a set of rules of professional conduct that govern lawyers’ behavior. If you fail to follow these rules, you run the risk of being disciplined, which can result in a suspension or revocation of your law license.
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    3
    Comply with the law. If you commit a crime, you not only will be subject to penalties through the criminal justice system, but also to professional discipline. Depending on the nature of your crime, you also are likely to lose your job.
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Part 5 of 5: Making a Difference

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    1
    Remember that your success is not always measured by your paycheck.Sometimes, it’s that pro bono case or that case where you charge a reduced fee in which you can make the most difference. And earning six figures isn’t necessarily success for every lawyer. Many attorneys who work at legal aid offices, government offices, and other lower-paying jobs are perfectly happy with their careers and make a huge difference in other peoples’ lives.
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    2
    Know that there are many different paths to a successful career. Some lawyers consider themselves successful when they make partner at a high-powered law firm. Others are content to make a living in their solo practices. Still others consider non-profit or public interest work to be the key to success in their lives. In the end, a successful career as a lawyer is what you consider it to be, not others.
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    3
    Manage stress. Attorneys often work long hours and deal with stressful situations on a daily basis. Learn how to let go of stress and manage it on a day-to-day basis. This step will allow you think more clearly and calmly and be more effective in your job.
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    4
    Be happy with your career choice. It is difficult to enjoy or be successful at a career that you do not enjoy. If you don’t enjoy your job, find a job that better suits you and that you can truly enjoy.[4]

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