Why settle for being a good lawyer when – with a little extra effort – you can become a top lawyer?
Top lawyers don’t just represent clients. They get to know their clients. They form collaborative alliances. And they select cases and clients they care about.
“If you’re not personally invested in the outcome, you should find another line of work,” says attorney Glenn Hendrix, chairman of Arnall Golden Gregory LLP in Atlanta.
Empathy is another characteristic of top lawyers, according to Hendrix.
“You must put yourself in the shoes of other people to sway them,” he says in this interview with Chere Estrin of Estrin Legal Staffing. “It doesn’t matter if I find my own argument persuasive. It’s not about me. The argument must be persuasive to whomever you are talking to. Whether in a negotiation or an argument, seeing things through the point of view of others is critical.”
Read “How to Be a Top Lawyer in Your Field” by Chere Estrin here.
Read Estrin’s entire interview with Glenn Hendrix here.
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How to Be a Top Lawyer
In addition to caring for clients and being empathetic, Hendrix lists the following traits top lawyers:
- Curiosity. “Curiosity has allowed my practice to evolve over time,” he says in the interview with Estrin. “Being curious about your clients’ business, their industries and the challenges they face is crucial for practice development and building relationships.”
- Know your client’s business or industry – and become a part of it. “There’s no one way for lawyers to generate business, but I think the easiest way and the way I’ve been most successful is by becoming part of an industry,” says Hendrix. “Industry niches form their own communities, and you want to become part of those communities. For example, suppose you represent home health agencies, or fintech companies, or whatever. If so, you should aspire to be a home health industry person or a fintech person who happens to be a lawyer, not just a lawyer who provides legal services to home health agencies or fintech companies. There’s a difference. Industries are somewhat tribal. People within an industry have their own lingo, join the same trade associations, read the same newsletters, and go to the same trade shows and conferences. When they change jobs, they tend to go to other companies in the same sector. That’s a great opportunity to pick up business.”
- Know when to let things go. “Not every case will go your way,” he tells Estrin. “If you can’t handle a loss, you’ll be too risk-averse to fight the fights your clients need and want you to fight. You learn from your mistakes, but like a pitcher who blows a save to lose a baseball game, you have to be able to move on.”
- Tend to matters at home. “My wife of 37 years and I have five kids,” says Hendrix. “Neither she nor any of them knows much about my cases or what I do day in and day out. I like it that way. My family is my refuge.”
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