For Successful Lawyers, the Learning Never Ends

Published on: 
07/10/2014
Those diplomas on your wall constitute a point of pride, and they should. But if you hope to achieve an advanced degree of success — not just an advanced degree — you must not see them as an end to your education.

You are no longer in school, but the most successful attorneys will always be students, continuing to educate themselves about what's new in the business of law in order to maximize their business potential.

The online ABA Journal (abajournal.com) posts a whole section of news specifically about the business of law. Below is a sampling of recent news worthy of note:

  • Investing in startups

    According to a June article by Kevin Davis, "Law firms are sponsoring incubators, cozying up with young entrepreneurs," firms are making it convenient and attractive for startup companies to open business in space set aside by the law firms.

    Foley & Lardner, which has a prominent presence in Boston, created a nonprofit in Chicago called "Catapult Chicago." In order to attract startup companies as clients, the organization is offering office space, professional services, mentors, meeting spaces and business advice — and lawyer access — to startups.

    Similarly, Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati in California offers office space, seminars and coaching for its startup clients.

    Both Foley & Lardner and Wilson Sonsini invest in some of the startups. Although that may seem problematic due to conflicts of interest, a 2000 opinion by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility noted that it is not forbidden to take an equity stake in client business, though certain rules must be followed.

    Not all startups become clients of the law firms that support the incubators, but some do.

  • Capitalizing on Wal-Mart's success

    In her May article "Is Wal-Mart Law coming to the U.S.? Retailer adds lawyers on site for Toronto-area shoppers," Debra Cassens Weiss reported that Axess Law now offers legal services at an Ontario Wal-Mart. The firm provides services including creating a will and notarizing documents. A simple will, for example, costs just $99. The law firm plans to expand services and locations.

  • Adding coaches to staff

    Also in May, Leslie A. Gordon penned "Law firms add coaches to their staffs," which noted that firms see the value of keeping coaches on staff to guide their lawyers on issues beyond lawyer skills: work-life balance, intra-firm relationships, time management, getting along, etc. Firms are increasingly viewing it as a way to motivate and retain attorneys.

  • Spinning off a related business

    According to the April article "McDermott launches 'one-stop shop' health-consulting subsidiary" by Martha Neil, McDermott, Will & Emery, which focuses on health-related clients like hospitals and medical manufacturers, spun off a health-consulting subsidiary that offers lobbying, policy advice and data analytics, among other things.

  • Dispensing with casual attire

    In "Formal office attire is must at this law firm; name partner says young lawyers should take note," Weiss wrote that the firm Greenberg Gross mandates that its lawyers wear formal attire, use watches instead of smartphones, and attend etiquette-training sessions. The March article said the firm believes its clients expect and appreciate such a level of sophistication from its lawyers.

  • Increasing pay

    In August 2013, Neil wrote "Greenberg ups first-year pay in two offices to $145K from $125K; will competitors follow suit?" The article revealed that Greenberg Traurig increased salaries for first-year lawyers from $125,000 to $145,000. Bickel & Brewer increased salaries from $175,000 to $185,000. GrayRobinson, on the other hand, said "no" to higher rates because the firm did not want to increase clients' fees to pay for salary increases.

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