TEL: 310.440.9320

  I love lawyers.

I am a lawyer. I am married to a lawyer. I am the friend of hundreds of lawyers and hold thousands more in great regard. If you're a lawyer (or love them), welcome. I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas in this space.

You Have the Tool You Need to Retool

Practicing all but the most routine varieties of law requires flexibility. First year law students are taught, sub rosa, there is no such thing as a fact. Good lawyers can argue either side of a case or negotiate and draft either side of a deal. Whether someone wants to consider their professional stances fungible is a different question. A cute summary of a litigator is, “What do you know about the timber industry?” “Nothing, give me three days.” Lawyers need to be smart, and have plastic brains.

Many firms hire “smart”. When looking for a working lawyer (as opposed to a rainmaker) those firms’ hiring decisions are based substantially on the lawyer’s raw intelligence. References are checked to make sure the person is not dazzle without diligence. But then smart gets hired.

Flexible also gets hired. I know a firm with strong preferences for people who wrote for their college newspaper. They assume those people can write well under deadline about a subject with which they may be unfamiliar.

So in this time of legal upheaval, smart lawyers with an unpopular specialty are sometimes learning new skills and specialties. Yes, no one is automatically an expert in a new field. Transitioning lawyers may not even want to work solo for a while. However, if you can read, pay attention, take instruction and be humble, transitioning or adding a new line of legal work to your repertoire is possible. Consider telling fellow lawyers in your chosen additional field that you are willing to work at a junior level for a junior hourly wage.

Your learning curve will be much faster than it was the first time. Mature legal and practical judgment is honed over time. You already have both. Rainmaking can also develop faster than the first time around. Don’t overpromise and start with modest goals.

This entry was posted in Legal Skills, Rainmaking, Retooling and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to You Have the Tool You Need to Retool

  1. A.F. says:

    I would add that your existing practice area skills will undoubtedly come in handy with the new practice. Previously a business litigator but now you’re asked to learn trust administration? Guess what: your knowledge of personalities and propensities to settle in the negotiation setting will come in handy when testy trust beneficiaries start arguing over which sibling gets to have dad’s seashell nightlight (true story).

  2. K.C. Victor says:

    I love that tale. I knew a couple whose final issue in their divorce was who got the Yogi Bear cup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *