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Lawyers who are set to graduate face many questions as they begin to plot the course of their careers. Most already know what specialty they’re going into and have prepared as best they can for their state bar exams. A. Harrison Barnes, who’s also an attorney and LawCrossing.com founder, says it’s up to each of us to define what success means and then to make it happen. “No one is going to hand you a diploma and say, ‘now, what can I do to make sure you’re successful as a lawyer’?” It’s up to you to pull your clients in or at least participate in keeping them once they enter the front door of the law firm you go to work for. You need to have that one thing that no one else has. That one thing, of course, is yourself. Learning how to market yourself is one key element in creating your success, says the LawCrossing.com founder. Your expertise is your commodity.

Barnes also says those days of picking and choosing clients are long gone. Everything, including legal services, has gone global. After all, there’s no shortage of talented, educated and brilliant legal minds. Look at it from a global perspective and it becomes clear the days of resting on our laurels are long gone (what few days there were, anyway). So how do you define your own success?

In many ways, it’s as simple as combining your personality, your skill sets and expertise to create the brand. Many people assume a proper presentation is all it takes, but that’s where they’re wrong. Become the lawyer who is enthusiastic, hopeful and confident. Become the lawyer who returns his own phone calls and treats every client as though he’s the only one. Instead of committing forty five minutes for a consultation, plan for an hour so that your potential client can leave feeling as though his questions are answered and his newly hired attorney actually cares in the outcome. Dale Carnegie once said, “attitude is the cure all”. Ensure you meet that mantra each day.

Another suggestion A. Harrison Barnes makes is to include yourself as you consider those you are in competition with. Challenge yourself each day to be better than the day before. Even if you’re a junior in the law firm and no hope of senior partners resigning in the next decade, treat each day as though you’re going to be offered partnership at the end of the day, whether you see yourself long term with this firm or not. It creates good habits and keeps your ethics strong and focused.

Finally, and as simple as it sounds, it’s a concrete as any other advice you’ll ever receive: treat others the way you want to be treated. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and understand that the legalities of life can be overwhelming for those without a law degree. Play fair, be honest, do your work and go home…it really is as simple as that.

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