I recently spoke to law students at the Wake County Bar Association YLD Summer Associate Orientation. I asked them to name people they thought were likeable. Immediately, the names that were shouted out from the audience were Oprah, Lebron and Scotty. All three of these individuals have a passionate following and are well liked across a wide range of demographics, if we exclude Cleveland. What’s the lesson?
That being likeable is important. As a young lawyer, you might not spend many hours in your day thinking about whether you are likeable. Instead, you might think about whether you’re billing enough hours, you may think about whether your supervising attorney is pleased with your work product or whether your client is going to pay his bills. But I believe that if you are likeable, these rewards and others, will come your way.
If you are an associate in a law firm and you are likeable, more people may want to send work projects your way. If you are a sole practitioner, more clients may send work your way. And I know from personal experience that if you are likeable the assistants and paralegals are going to be more eager to help you find your way.
I worked with a few not-so-nice attorneys over the years. They were smart, I learned a lot from them and they have successful law practices, but I’m not friends with them nor do I have lunch with them. Thankfully, I worked for many smart and likeable attorneys. When these guys or gals call me today to ask for recommendations for paralegals to hire, I can’t wait to send my friends their way. I also make sure to refer potential clients to them. And I keep them on my rolodex (figuratively speaking) for lunch dates.
How do you obtain the likeable factor? A very good singer, Haley, was voted off the show before Scotty. Going to the blogosphere for comments on Haley was enlightening. Many people thought Haley was talented and a very hard worker (something you attorneys know a lot about), but she had a problem with the likeable factor. She was difficult, she often disagreed with the judges and she had a reputation for being a diva.
Do you know any young attorneys who struggle with some of these same issues? While the diva (male or female) may have been at the top of their class and their work product is impeccable, they clash with the staff, they are rude to those in the firm’s service center or vendors and they can be prickly with clients.
I’d encourage you to think about the payoff of being likeable. When you are genuine, friendly, trust worthy and empathetic to those around you, people will vote to save you against all odds. Having a paralegal that likes you and is willing to save you from embarrassing yourself in front of a client or partner is valuable. Having clients choose you over other lawyers because they feel comfortable with you and trust you is valuable.
As a result of his American Idol win, Scotty Mccreery is currently North Carolina’s favorite son. While predicting long term success of American Idols is a little like flipping a coin, what we know about Scotty today is that his likeability factor is huge and that’s not nothing.