The Lawyer Life 001: Mentor or Go it Alone
I want to talk to you about why a mentor is a must.
The reason you need to have a mentor, not just in law, but in any type of business, is because when you graduate from law school, you know nothing about the business of law, and you know nothing about the practice of law, you just think you do.
You are going to learn about making mistakes, if you don’t work for someone else. I strongly advise that you do work for someone else. If you don’t, you need to take on a mentor. A mentor should have your best interest at heart. Someone who will help guide you through the practice of law, who will help guide you through the court room, and is going to help guide you even if you have your own office practice.
This is so extremely important. What lawyers need to understand is that law is a business.
You don’t just graduate from law school and suddenly you’re anointed with clients. Even if you go to work for a medium to large firm, regardless, this isn’t like ‘The Firm,’ or ‘The Devils Advocate.’ You are not going to hang your shingle and clients will line up. I know when you come out of law school you think you’re the chosen one, but you have more chance of winning the lottery, seriously.
Get a mentor, someone who is successful in the ‘Business’ of law.
What do I mean by that?
When you start to go at it, you will find you are very limited in what you can do. You will find yourself pulling tons of late nights, which is fine, that’s the practice of law.
You will find that law is a business. It’s customer service. It is manufacturing. There are pipelines, there are sales, which is a foreign term when it comes to law, but you are selling yourself, and your services. You have to pursue clients aggressively and do it within the ethical rules of your bar association.
To have an advantage over your competition, you need a mentor who knows all this, and has successfully mastered this in their own practice.
If you realize law is a business, that it needs systems and processes for everything, and you’re offering a service that can be systemized, very much like any other business process, you are going to find yourself in an elite minority of attorneys. Keep tweaking and striving.
I have talked about this elsewhere in the book but I know it’s something that scares people off, so I’m going to mention it again.
You can not be scared of speaking your mind. You must not be afraid of the haters, or of opposition. If you’re not getting opposition in your community, vocally, loudly, then you need to shout louder.
Get on the television, or the radio, and I don’t just mean commercials okay, you can do better than that, you can do less expensive than that. Do a radio show, announce what you’re fighting for in your community, whether political, social or whatever. Go to every community event you can that has anything to do with your practice. If you can’t do it, hire someone to represent your office.
You have to become obsessed with your success.
Now let me tell you something that may come as a shock. One of the things that is horrible about this country right now, is the belief that ‘Success’ is a bad word. That ‘Making Money’ is bad, or unethical.
The whole country is wrapped up in feelings of guilt over this. Every hater thinks this. Attorneys suck at this. Attorneys are horrible at charging money. They are horrible at wanting to charge the client money, and understanding how to do it, and knowing what they’re worth. You go to the doctor and try to see them for free, it’s not going to happen.
I know there is a growing believe that ‘happy’ makes the world go around, but I can’t pay my mortgage with happy. I’d lose my house. I can’t feed my wife and kids with happy. They’d starve. Somebody has to get out there and make money. We must get rid of feeling guilty for being successful. You need a mentor who understands that.
If you don’t have a mentor, you are stumbling around in the dark trying to turn the lights on. Everyone thinks lawyers are just racking it in, and ridiculously rich but most of you aren’t going to know even which way to go or which area of law to practice.
You will figure out quite quickly if you don’t like the area of law you chose to practice. And that is okay, you can correct that course as you go on.
The key is to keep moving forward. Make a decision, don’t whine that you don’t know, just make a decision and move forward.
Get killed at the crossroads.
Let me tell you what I mean by that. You must make decisions quickly and move fast. Speed is power.
If you work for a big firm, be the first one there everyday. Make the decision to be a leader and lead by example. Decide to be great. Don’t be normal. Normal sucks. The only level of action you should be thinking about is Massive Action.
My mentor is Grant Cardone. Another mentor and coach is called Bob Demers who I work with all the time. I work with a business coach on a regular basis. Think about it, what if a company didn’t have a board of directors, where one person was king. Everyone needs to check their ideas. I have a ton of people who are my mentors. David Teddy is one. He’s a very successful attorney in my area, who always strives to help people to do the right thing, the right way.
Who is an attorney’s first duty to?
This is a question I’ve heard a lot, and I know when I hear it where we’re headed. You think I’m going to say my first duty is to my client, but it’s not. My first duty is to my family, to myself even, to my employees, and then to my clients.
You need to learn that you are supporting all of these to be successful. You should charge what you’re worth, right?
You need a mentor to effectively learn these things.
You need to market yourself. You’re not going to put yourself behind a desk, sit there and have clients roll in. You have to get out into the community and let them know what you can do for them. A mentor can help you.
Contact me if you have any questions.
Attorney, Coach & Consultant
PO Box 165
Shelby, NC 28151