A question for you lawyers: How many of you felt like law school didn’t properly prepare you for actually being an attorney? (Hands up everywhere.) Law school is great for teaching us the principles of law in a theoretical environment (not to mention fulfilling a requirement for passing the Bar)—but as with so many professions, law school and the “real world” are two different worlds entirely. I imagine any practicing attorney reading this blog could write an article of her own with this exact same title—but in my practice of helping lawyers grow their law firms, I find several common “gaps” in attorney education that a few classes might have helped to fill. Hence, my list of things I wish they’d teach in law school, especially for lawyers seeking to start firms.
- Basic Business Practices
For all the attorneys who open law offices, I’m baffled at the lack of training in basic business skills in law schools. After all, a law firm is a business first. Without proper setup, organization, staffing and accounting, no business can survive. Law schools may train good “employees”—that is, lawyers who work in existing firms—but lawyers who start and run those firms must either get business education elsewhere or figure it out for themselves—often with devastating results.
- Basic Sales and Marketing Skills
Law schools currently train attorneys on how to perform legal services for their clients, but they usually offer no instruction on how to get the clients in the first place. Anyone running a firm needs to know how to market the firm and sell services to potential clients. Wouldn’t it be helpful for new lawyers to learn those principles while they’re in school, rather than having to learn it when their newly formed law firm is struggling to survive?
- Basic People Skills
Clients form the lifeblood of any law firm, but clients aren’t legal cases—they are people. The fastest way to lose a client is to lack empathy or simply not know how to handle someone in an agitated state, and most lawyers learn these lessons the hard way. Some basic psychology and training in people skills would certainly blunt this edge.
A recent eye-opening study found that about one-fifth of practicing attorneys engage in dangerous patterns of alcohol consumption, and 28 percent suffer from depression! One possible reason is that most attorneys are basically in the business of solving crises for other people. They’ve not learned how to detach—how to leave those issues at the office and maintain a separate, healthy personal life. Law schools would do well to include some form of personal care training in their curriculum, teaching lawyers self-care technique to maintain perspective while helping others navigate difficult situations.
Despite these current gaps, you can own and run a successful law firm even if law school failed to prepare you properly. We can help! To learn more, call us today at (888) 375-2573.