Whether you have just started working as a lawyer or are a seasoned veteran aiming to impress as you change your focus, many tips can help you make the right impression. According to the Bureau Labor Statistics, the number of lawyers who have found employment has risen in the past few years, but wages have remained flat. This means that, as a lawyer, you will need to stand out to secure a profitable position in an area you enjoy. Professionalism is the key to finding a coveted role in the legal profession.
The Basics: Professionalism and Appearance
Often the term “professionalism” is vague, so it can be a good idea to work from the outside in. Like it or not, a first impression can depend on how someone is dressed, how they speak, and their mannerisms. When in doubt, it is valuable to err on the side of dressing more conservatively in dark suits, high-quality shoes, and avoiding flashy ties and ostentatious jewelry. Grooming is important, so pay attention to the details.
Getting a permanent position in a firm may mean being the kind of person people want to work around. Most people understand the basics of office etiquette, such as speaking in a mature, cordial way, using good posture, decent grammar, educated vocabulary, and showing consideration by avoiding audible music or videos, off-color humor, and anything that may cause annoyance.
Professional behavior, however, isn’t just about etiquette and avoiding negative behavior but to be pro-active and find ways to improve the work environment. Finding solutions without being too forceful can create a positive impression. For instance, being helpful with suggestions for improving public office spaces, boosting the morale of co-workers, and focusing on cooperation rather than competition will help you be appreciated and may even be perceived as indispensable in your work environment.
Dealing With Clients
Professionalism isn’t just the eye of your bosses and co-workers. Work with clients can be a determining factor for success. Professionalism should be reflected in the philosophy of delivering the best service for clients. This means being thoroughly prepared, helpful with solutions but willing to admit the need to think things over and do more research when needed.. A professional is also flexible enough to think outside of the box and find new workable solutions.
Reliability is a huge component of professionalism. You can pull off a stellar performance, but if the next is substantially less successful or if the delivery of information is not prompt and efficient, the positive event may seem like a fluke. Showing a consistent delivery of service fosters trust with clients and will make you an asset to any firm.
Clients need to feel their lawyers are working for them and not just trying to create more billable hours. Providing clients with visibility on the process and billing details will foster trust. It is also essential to establish a link in the client’s mind between serving them and the public interest. Including clients in a broader vision of justice and fairness in society will make your clients feel that they are doing something useful for others while helping themselves. This encapsulates the philosophy of the legal profession and inspires clients and lawyers with a broad vision.
Making Professionalism a Priority
Although prospects for employment as a lawyer is fairly healthy, according to BLS, job growth for lawyers between 2018 and 2028 will be less proportionally than the growth between 2006 and 2016.
In this competitive environment, professionalism is not just a vague concept but should be a concrete priority for beginning and veteran lawyers alike. It is many-faceted and includes external details such as dress, grooming, and etiquette as well as behavior and an internal philosophy such as reliability, consistency, and premium service. A commitment to professionalism can help you find a position in a firm and become indispensable to clients and employers.