I’m just going to put it out there. I wish I was Beyonce. While it would mean having to be married to Jay-Z, I’m happy to carry that burden if I get to be that fffierce. Not only is Queen B entertaining all of ya’ll, you may not have actually noticed that amongst her sweet, sweet lyrics and bootylicious dance moves are nestled shiny pearls of wisdom about being a good lawyer. Behold, this is what I’ve learnt from Beyonce about being a good lawyer.
1- I’m not a business woman. I’m a business, woman.
Have you noticed that Queen B can do everything. Absolutely everything. Have her own fashion label, act, sing, dance, produce, be a mother to a questionably named child and wife to an unfortunate looking man; and she’s a squillionare. She’s Beyonce Inc. across all these different platforms. So should you be my dear good lawyer. I’m not saying be an all singing-all dancing- all performing legal eagle but diversify what you are.
Competition out there is fierce, you should be trying to put your name out there in as many different ways as possible to retain and draw in new business. Write for journals, keep an active LinkedIn page, have a professional Twitter account, become a mentor to a younger lawyer or law student, start a blog or personal website, get your name out there. When you think about it, this makes sense. You not only do you attract clients by being a good lawyer, you also attract them by having a good public reputation. Get out there and build it.
2- “Boy you know you love it how we smart enough to make this millions, strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business. ”
Multi tasking! Is there anything B can’t do and seemingly all at once! Well, you and I may not have a driver, a cook, a cleaner, a personal trainer, a choreographer, three assistants and a secretary. Because you don’t have an army of servants you need to be able to do a whole lot of things at once. Come up with a system that works for you and be consistent.
What I find helps me is that every single task that I get coming at me I categorise and rank based on importance, deadline and how long it will take me to complete and then I keep an active task list of everything that needs to be done; with the most urgent, least time consuming tasks at the top, then the most urgent more time consuming tasks following that, then semi urgent but not time consuming tasks following that and so on. Let your diary be your best friend and use it! No point having a diary if you need another diary to remind you to look at the first one.
3- “Time to impress, pull out your freakum dress!”
When does Queen B ever look dishevelled? Never. Exactly. Neither should you. I’m not asking you to pull out your furs and Christian Louboutin pumps just to stride in to the office but at least look presentable. Your clients will only get one chance to make a first impression about whether they can trust you with their work (and give you their business). You don’t want that first impression to be a bad one.
Before you jump up and down and yell “but I’m an incredibly intelligent and able lawyer!”, yes you might be but your clients when first meeting you can’t see your incredibly ability, they can only see the mortal coil that you dressed this morning. Make the outside of you match the ability inside.
4- “I think I can please ya, but first I gotta read ya!”
Know your clients ya’ll. No one goes to see a lawyer when things are nice, rosy and peachy keen. Lawyers are there for when things screw up, or when your client is going through some sort of crisis. Try to understand where your client is coming from, what is the REAL issue. Have they got a bona fide fencing dispute or is the real issue the fact that they hate their neighbour? You can probably only help with one of those two things. Are they lonely and want a chat and they chose you? Do they have unrealistic expectations? Are they asking you to do something that is beyond your ability?
You need two types of competencies to be a lawyer in my honest opinion. The first type is legal knowledge. The kind of stuff law school trains you to do. The other is being a good person. Empathy, sympathy, good communication, engagement and emotional intelligence. These are the things you pick up by being a good all round human being. You’ll be a good lawyer if you can navigate the law. You’ll be an exceptional lawyer if you can navigate the law and relate to your clients in a way that they feel valued and understood, even if they don’t agree with you.
5- “ To the left, to the left… everything you own in a box to the left!”
Keep excellent file notes and take good care of your client’s file. It’s technically theirs anyway (provided they’ve paid up). Be diligent about all the documents and materials in the file and maintain it in such a way that if they were to pick it up and go through it they would not doubt your work.
You’ll probably be providing an itemised bill to your client at the conclusion of their matter. If their file doesn’t match what their bill is asking them to pay then you’ll have a problem. Keep the file looking nice, keep their documents in order as if your client will ask for the file to be independently costed.