Browsing Category 'career success in the law’ RSS

Getting With the Program

Date April 19, 2009 Comment Comments Off on Getting With the Program


I’ve been advising my coaching clients for years that exercise and outside interests are an important part of marketing and career advancement. While I’ve tried to emphasize the importance of making time for doing something that you enjoy (i.e. that this could be, but doesn’t have to be exercise) as I get older, I become more convinced that there is no substitute for exercise.

Pursuing a personal interest like photography, cooking, music, art, travel, coaching your kid’s soccer team, etc. can recharge the sole. Having outside hobbies or interests can also help you build relationships that can become sources of business down the road.

But exercise provides a stress release that is hard to substitute. Law is a stressful business and regular exercise offers an important way to help cope with stress. In the current climate where layoffs seem to keep coming and workloads in some departments are perilously low, getting some sort of exercise is more important than ever.

Until recently, I was a member of a squash club in Boston but when I moved back to my home office in the burbs, I found that it was much harder to get into town to work out.

Which leads me to my latest revelation about exercise: it only works if it is convenient.

So I’m joining my local Y and giving up squash (at least for now). Although I love the game, getting exercise in general is more important. If I only have to travel 5 minutes to get to the gym, I’m much more likely to go. That was true when I worked in Boston and the gym was only 10 minutes from my office and although I thought the lure of squash would get me into Boston regularly, right now, that does not seem to be happening. So I’m getting with the program that I prescribe for my clients and making exercise convenient once again.

What's Hot, What's Not (in DC)

Date April 7, 2009 Comment Comments Off on What's Hot, What's Not (in DC)

Tips from recruiters in DC (free subscription required). Part of a Special Report on Associates in this week’s Legal Times (premium subscription required for some content).

Balancing Self Promotion and Modesty

Date January 16, 2009 Comment Comments Off on Balancing Self Promotion and Modesty

While it is okay to tell your superiors about the greatness you bring to your firm, make sure to back up your statements with examples of specific accomplishments. And in these difficult economic times, self promotion should be tempered with a little bit of modesty.

So make sure the partners you work for know about the great result you achieved for a client. But don’t go overboard.

Success in Scary Times

Date October 10, 2008 Comment Comments Off on Success in Scary Times

My colleague Dan Binstock in BCG’s DC office just forwarded this to me. It contains some very good tips for getting through these “scary times”.

Don't Ask "Why"

Date August 7, 2008 Comment Comments Off on Don't Ask "Why"


On the eve of the Beijing Olympics, my local public radio station interviewed a sports psychologist, JoAnn Dahlkoetter, on the subject of achievement. Dahlkoetter, who won the San Francisco marathon in 1980, had numerous interesting things to say about achievement. Most of what she said has relevance to being a successful lawyer–whether you are striving to develop a high level of competence in your practice niche or trying to build your own practice through effective marketing . You can catch it on the WBUR website at your leisure.

She was particularly insightful on the subject of overcoming adversity. One strategy that she suggested struck a chord with me. She indicated that in the face of failure, don’t ask yourself “why” it happened. You can always come up with reasons to blame yourself (and being a lawyer where you are paid to identify how things that might go wrong, this is particularly true.) Instead, she suggests that after a set back, ask yourself, “what” should I do next or “how” can I get past this. I guess this is another way of saying focus on the present or on your future actions rather than dwelling. Now I just have to figure out “why” this has been hard for me in the past!

The Opportunity Maker

Date July 18, 2008 Comment Comments Off on The Opportunity Maker

There’s a simple principal in saving for retirement: start early. If you begin making small and regular investments when you are in your 20’s, you will be well off by the time you reach 65.

It turns out that the same principle can be applied to building a law practice. Get started when you are a law student and by the time you are a senior associate, you can begin to reap the rewards. That is the basic premise behind a new book published by Thomas/West, The Opportunity Maker: Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career.

The Opportunity Maker is an easy read and contains a lot of practical information. While a newcomer to the profession (and marketing) may find the book a little overwhelming (another point made in the book is that there are many different ways to build your reputation and referral network,) the author does make an effort to point out that just getting started is what counts (i.e. not to do everything mentioned in the book.)

This volume is best used as a cookbook that can help you to understand how to implement strategies that feel most comfortable to you. No one could possibly try every suggestion (nor does it make sense to try.) But if you want to make a good investment in your career by laying the groundwork for building a practice, The Opportunity Maker is a good place to start.

How You Play the Game

Date June 20, 2008 Comment Comments Off on How You Play the Game

My colleague Lisa Pavia has a nice post on BCG’s new blog, The Lateral Attorney Report. She holds up Tim Russert as an example of someone who achieved success while playing nicely in the sandbox.

Reading Mixed Messages

Date June 17, 2008 Comment Comments Off on Reading Mixed Messages

Large law firms are very good at delivering mixed messages to associates. “Make sure to participate in firm functions, outings, sporting events, etc.” But understand that work always takes precedence. This and other advice to summer associates courtesy of the “Snark” in Atlanta.

IQ vs. EQ

Date June 12, 2008 Comment Comments Off on IQ vs. EQ


IQ (or intelligence) will help you land your first job out of law school. But as you become more senior, EQ (emotional intelligence) becomes increasingly important to your success. That is why feedback from partners is so important. Without feedback, it is much harder to develop your emotional intelligence/interpersonal skills.

As I wrote here, do not interpret no news as good news (i.e. don’t wait for feedback, ask for it.)

Law firms do not always understand the importance of taking the time to give constructive criticism. When feedback is given, it often focuses on the negative. This plays a big role in law firm turnover. This and more on Law Crossing.

Should You Reapply to a Firm that Rejected You?

Date May 19, 2008 Comment Comments Off on Should You Reapply to a Firm that Rejected You?

That’s the question answered in this week’s career column by a New York recruiter [free subscription required.] In a nutshell, the advice is: why not? But the advice is tempered with reality. If the firm rejected you initially because you lacked experience, then why not try again once you have the experience. But if they rejected you because they only hire candidates with top academics, then maybe reapplying is not a good use of your time (i.e. since you can’t change your academics.)

I always tell candidates that they have little to lose by reapplying. If anything, you are demonstrating that you are persistent and that you are truly interested. Here the dating analogy works. Everyone likes to be pursued (to a point…) And to continue the analogy, don’t allow fatal attraction to blind you to other career opportunities. It is rare that one and only one employer can satisfy all your career needs.