What Makes a Good Lawyer?

Jim_durham_book_cover The question arose on the Law Marketing Listserv, "what makes a good lawyer?"  Jim Durham, the CMO of 850-lawyer Ropes & Gray identified what makes a great lawyer:

  • Good lawyers return phone calls reasonably promptly; great lawyers are always available and accessible to their clients. Great lawyers don't just respond when their phone rings, they make other people's phones ring.
  • Good lawyers know the law; great lawyers know the law, but they also know and understand the client's business. Great lawyers know what makes the client successful and they understand the client's preferred form of communication.
  • Good lawyers get the legal work done. Great lawyers get the work done too, but they do it and give practical advice in the context of knowing the client's business.
  • Good lawyers do legal work effectively and efficiently. Great lawyers look for ways to make legal services more valuable to clients. Great lawyers give clients more than they pay for.
  • Good lawyers treat the client professionally. Great lawyers personalize the relationship by recognizing the unique styles, interests, and needs of the individuals with whom they work.
  • Good lawyers do their best to keep promises about when work will be completed. Great lawyers do what they say they will do, and get it done when they said they would. (In other words, good lawyers try to deliver, great lawyers deliver.)
  • Good lawyers are reasonably comfortable in most settings. Great lawyers project confidence, but not arrogance, in any setting. Good lawyers attend meetings; great lawyers arrive early-fully prepared. Good lawyers are present at meetings; great lawyers are a real presence in the meeting.
  • Good lawyers are thought of as "capable," and are expected to do a good job. Great lawyers own the client's problem, and engender a belief that they will do everything possible to help the client succeed.
  • Good lawyers care about clients. Great lawyers are loyal to them.
  • Good lawyers accept feedback when clients offer it. Great lawyers seek meaningful feedback from clients and act on it.

For more detail, get Jim's excellent book: "The Essential Little Book of Great Lawyering" for only $11.95 at http://www.lawmarketing.biz/store/product.asp?dept%5Fid=9&pf%5Fid=289.

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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Mariana Sarceda - February 19, 2007 1:41 PM

I totally agree on these points about what makes a great lawyer. Im working in the PR Department of a very important law firm here in Argentina and I can assure that one of the things that really stands out as a benchmark for this firm is not only its professional team and legal expertise but the deep commitment all the members of the staff have towards their clients, the different ways by which they try to communicate, understand and be understood.

Derek - February 20, 2007 6:00 PM

I think those are all important components of a good lawyer, but what about results? In my opinion that's the most important sign of a good lawyer. As they say in sport, "Scoreboard baby".

Jerry - March 5, 2007 1:48 AM

Good article!

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