How to Be a Better Lawyer Than Your Competition
If you want your law firm to succeed, or if you want to establish a better reputation within your own firm, you need to find a way to be “better” than your competitors. If you provide better legal services, you win more cases, and you have a better reputation, your career will develop into something truly impressive.
But how can you do this?
Your first step is to embrace competition, rather than stressing out about it. Too many people see competition as a direct threat – an obstacle that stands in the way of your success. But it's much better to view your competition as a series of friendly rivals. They have their own goals, you have your own goals, and there may be some overlap. That's it.
If you have a healthy attitude toward competition, it's not going to negatively affect you. Instead, it may motivate you to improve and become the best lawyer you can possibly be.
Do Your Research and Due Diligence
In every case and with every client, it's important to do your research and due diligence. Come to every meeting completely prepared with all the information you're going to need for that topic. Enter negotiations armed with as many facts and details as you can possibly get your hands on. Leave no stone unturned.
This is common practice for lawyers, and you likely already know this is a good way to build your career and your reputation. Unfortunately, many lawyers end up neglecting some of these important fundamentals when they get overworked, too busy, or distracted with other matters. Your research isn't something that you can compromise on. Make it one of your top priorities.
Prioritize Your Client Relationships
Obviously, you want to win every case you take on. You want to make every client happy and win them a huge settlement. That should be your top objective, as it's the best indicator of your true performance as a lawyer. But if you want to develop a better reputation for yourself, earn more client referrals, and pass your competition, it's important to build your client relationships as well.
Here are just some of the ways you can do it:
- Be responsive. The easiest way to build rapport with a new client is to stay on top of your communication, being as responsive as possible. If somebody emails you a question, try to answer it as soon as possible; even if you don't have a perfect answer right now, you can at least tell them that you're working on the problem. Your clients will like you much more and be much more willing to send referrals your way if you're a proactive and thoughtful communicator.
- Express sympathy. Speaking of communication, it's important to express sympathy as much as possible. Many of your clients will be undergoing hardship, whether they express that directly or not. They may be the victim of a personal injury or have recently survived an intense car crash. They may also be dealing with financial hardships. The better you understand these troubles, and the more you try to relate to them, the better.
- Get personal. Don't be afraid to add a personal touch to your relationships. Obviously, much of your meetings and communications will be focused on business, but that doesn't mean you can't take a few minutes to get to know your clients on a personal level. Even simple conversations about family, work, and hobbies can make a meaningful difference in how your clients perceive you.
- Make recommendations and connections. Try to recommend resources and connections that can help your clients in other ways. For example, you could recommend a trustworthy settlement advance company to a client who’s financially struggling. In case you aren't familiar, settlement advances are designed to give plaintiffs cash immediately while they're waiting for a settlement; It's a non-recourse loan, so if they never receive a settlement, they won't have to pay back the principal.
Continue Educating Yourself
Invest in your ongoing education. Chances are, you’re already required to do this to remain accredited and keep your position at this firm – but it’s still not something you can afford to slack on. Keep taking new classes and challenging yourself in new ways to expand your horizons and improve your areas of competency.
Get a Mentor
It’s also a good idea to find a mentor. Experienced, seasoned lawyers will have a much better perspective on how to represent clients better, how to build better relationships, and how to build a better reputation for yourself. Most of these veterans will be more than happy to share their advice and wisdom with you, as long as you respect their time.
Don't forget to practice self-care. If you're an ambitious and aggressive lawyer, working long hours and pushing yourself to the limit, you're going to be overcome with stress. That can make you lose focus on your job, cause complications in your relationships, and generally make you miserable while you're trying to work. Make sure you have a plan in place to minimize your stress and deal with it when it comes up.
Finally, collect feedback. Ask the people around you how you're doing and if there are any ways you can improve. It's a great chance to collect unbiased information about your work performance and your personal skills – and you can often walk away with new direction for how to better yourself as a lawyer.
You can collect feedback from multiple people, including:
- Clients. Be sure to send follow-up messages to your clients and ask them what they thought of your performance.
- Colleagues. Your coworkers may know your strengths and weaknesses better than you do.
- Superiors. Reach out to your bosses and superiors for advice and guidance, as well as periodic reviews.
One of the best ways to get the edge on your fellow competing lawyers is to provide resources and support beyond the basic lawyer-client relationship. That means recommending pre-settlement funding if and when your clients are financially distressed and awaiting a settlement.
If you’re interested in learning more, or if you’re ready to start a partnership with a pre-settlement funding provider, contact us today!