Leadership Matters for Lawyers
Newsletter Archives Center
Life at the Bar LLC
Leadership Matters for Lawyers is now a weekly e-newsletter which features tips and strategies to boost your leadership LATB logoabilities. There are now four issues each month with a focus.  Weeks 1 and 3 will feature personal leadership articles, Week 2 will feature a book review plus blog posts, and Week 4 will feature a quote or resource plus blog posts.
Julie A. Fleming
provides attorney development coaching for associates and partners.  She can be reached at jfb@lifeatthebar.com or 800.758.6214.
Join our Mailing List!
  • 2008 Archived Newsletters
  • The Essential Little Book of Great Lawyering  (12/16/2008)
  • The Essential Little Book of Great Lawyering is aptly named: at just 52 pages (including the title page, copyright, and table of contents), you'll need less than an hour to discover the essential skills of great lawyering. Some readers may be wondering why anyone would need a book to learn what great lawyering is, and some may be thinking that great lawyering "obviously" means possessing enormous technical expertise, good judgment, and years of experience in which to develop those attributes. That is what most lawyers mean by great lawyering. But what do clients mean?
  • Make the Most of Holiday Gatherings  (12/9/2008)
  • Networking is always a popular topic for lawyers who are engaged in rainmaking, and the reason is simple: the people who know, like, and trust you will have an enormous influence on your success in practice. And there's no time like the holidays for networking, because so many organizations and groups arrange holiday gatherings.

  • Peak or Valley?  (11/18/2008)
  • Evaluation time is near for most law firms now. The classic formal mechanism for evaluation includes collection and delivery of feedback on how well each lawyer is performing and might improve. Many firms also incorporate self-evaluation, in which the lawyer is asked to fill out a form that asks for self-evaluation in certain areas and sets plans for the future. If taken seriously, these programs can be very useful in helping to guide lawyers' professional development.
  • Book Review: The Happy Lawyer  (11/11/2008)
  • The Happy Lawyer bears the tag line, "How to gain more satisfaction, suffer less stress, and enjoy higher earnings in your law practice." Who doesn't want that? The book is a quick 188-page read, full of exercises to help clarify the practice and the clients that will allow you to create a satisfying practice. It then continues with suggestions on how to create that practice once you've identified it, how to attract the clients who will appreciate your efforts, and how to engage in a happy practice. The bottom line is not terribly surprising, though I like the way it's presented: to be a happy lawyer, figure out what you like about practice and then find ways to get more of that.
  • Guerilla-Style Marketing  (11/4/2008)
  • Suppose you're researching an area of law to get a feel for it, knowing that you're going to need to affiliate with someone who's an expert in the area. Would you be likely to contact someone who keeps popping up as an articles author on your topic, someone perhaps with a treatise to boot, who's spoken on the issue at a number of CLE meetings? Would you be more or less likely to contact someone whose name comes up once as an author, or once as a speaker, or once as a member of a relevant committee? I'd be willing to bet that you'd be more eager to speak with the first lawyer.
  • Representing the unrealistic client   (10/21/2008)
  • One should certainly consider whether to take on each client based not only on the merits of the proposed representation and the client's ability to pay, but also based on what kind of client the person promises to be. Difficult clients don't always appear to be difficult at first blush, though. And although most difficult clients cause stress and not danger, dealing with an unrealistic client can cost time and angst. Knowing how to handle unreasonable clients can mitigate all kinds of risks (from stress to bar complaints to physical threats), and that's the focus of today's article.
  • Book Review: Legal Business Development  (10/14/2008)
  • I must admit that I'm always a little skeptical about non-lawyers who purport to teach rainmaking or practice development skills. Nothing against non-lawyers, obviously, but I've seen too many suggestions that might work beautifully in another field but wouldn't fit at all in law. And so I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up Legal Business Development. However, it turned out to be one of the best client development books I've ever read.
  • Finding Opportunity in Chaos  (10/7/2008)
  • One of the interesting things about moving in coaching circles is that I'm exposed to comments that I would likely never hear in the legal world. For instance, I've read articles and posts recently recommending a "media fast" to get away from all of the bad news because it's just an illusion. These articles urge readers to focus instead on the "truth" of "abundance".
  • Free Resource: Legal Trends Network  (9/30/2008)
  • Legal Trends Network is a free user-driven resource and collaborative exchange for lawyers, judges, law professors, and social and restorative justice professionals. The website promotes lawyers as leaders and focuses on alternative modalities in dispute resolution and therapeutic processes in the practice of justice. Legal Trends is content-rich and offers many services for legal professionals.
  • Systems Awareness  (9/16/2008)
  • What does this have to do with leadership for lawyers? Simple: it's easy to get sucked into doing things in the usual way, but leaders train themselves to look at situations through fresh eyes and to consider new alternatives. And leaders know that one change will create a ripple effect, so they consider what the ripples might be. This attribute, systems awareness, is the focus of today's article.
  • Review :Leadership That Gets Results  (9/9/2008)
  • So it is with leadership styles. A key leadership competency is authenticity, but that doesn't mean that a leader will show up in the same way regardless of the situation. To give you a snapshot view into a selection of leadership styles, today's issue reviews a Harvard Business Review article by Daniel Goleman (perhaps best known for his work with emotional intelligence) titled Leadership That Gets Results. I use this article with clients who are working to improve their leadership abilities, and it always gets rave reviews.
  • The Art of Being Fully Present  (9/2/2008)
  • Today's article is about presence: the art of bringing full attention to a single activity. If you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed and you think you have too much to do to read this article, I urge you to take a moment and skim it. Being fully present to an activity is one of the top antidotes for stress.
  • Quote: The Being of Leadership  (8/26/2008)
  • I often like to ask clients, "Who must you be to lead effectively in this situation?" The leadership literature covers well what competencies leaders must develop and how they can do so, but less of that literature is focused on the "being" of leadership. Today's quotations take us right to that spot of being.
  • Do you know where you are?  (8/19/2008)
  • I imagine that those of you who tend to be rather literal and detailed-oriented have already composed a quick response to this question. Sitting at your desk, perhaps, or reading on a BlackBerry in an airport, thinking "Of course I know where I am! What a dumb question!"
  • Book Review: Selling the Invisible  (8/12/2008)
  • Selling the Invisible offers targeted suggestions for marketing services, using anecdotes to teach. Divided into eleven sections with multiple one- to three-page chapters in each section, Beckwith's book gives bite-sized lessons on what clients and prospects (that is, potential clients) want, expect, and find persuasive.
  • Sharing Feedback on an Assignment Gone Wrong  (8/5/2008)
  • I've been working for a partner for two years now (since I started with the firm) and I still have no idea what he wants. He assigns something to me and tells me what he wants, but when I deliver it, he tells me he wanted something different.
  • Do you feel that you must do it all yourself  (7/22/2008)
  • Part of leadership is knowing when and how to ask for feedback, brainstorming, and guidance. A mastermind group (or any other dedicated, focused, supportive group) is a terrific way both to receive and give this help. It also creates accountability, and the group tends to pull participants along by raising the bar on activity that advances a goal. Group coaching works for the same reasons.
  • How to attain a leadership role quickly  (7/15/2008)
  • Are you ready for the next level of leadership? Clients often ask what would be a good leadership opportunity beyond taking the lead on a piece of a client-service project.
  • Book Review: Fat Smoker  (7/8/2008)
  • David Maister has masterfully connected the dots in Strategy and the Fat Smoker.
  • Set 'em so you can reach 'em  (7/1/2008)
  • Some readers (and clients) have asked why it is that being specific about a goal makes its achievement more likely. Since that fits in so neatly with the invitation to David's call, that's the focus of today's article. I'd love to hear your feedback about this.
  • Quotation of the Month  (6/24/2008)
  • What do these quotes (especially when juxtaposed) say to you about leading teams of lawyers, either on a client service team or in a law firm?
  • 4 Steps to Growing Your Leadership Presence  (6/17/2008)
  • Although many skills are at play in any leadership situation, today's focus is on leadership presence. How can you refine your leadership presence when interacting with clients and colleagues, and even in court? Read on to discover 4 aspects of leadership presence that you can begin using today with immediate effect.
  • Book Review: Fierce Conversations  (6/10/2008)
  • Fierce Conversations revolves around the "Mineral Rights conversation." This simple 7-step process can be used to get to the truth of a situation, create understanding about it, tackle the challenges in the situation, and enrich relationships in the process.
  • How To Draw Out Your Clients  (6/3/2008)
  • Today's article takes a look at leaders' communication skills, with a specific focus on drawing out the thoughts and concerns of the client. I've suggested a couple of exercises you might try, and I'd love to hear what you observe if you do give it a shot.
  • Quotation of the Month  (5/27/2008)
  • The following quotations make the connection between the leadership skill of listening and service to clients or potential clients.
  • Get the Edge in Client Service and Client Development  (5/20/2008)
  • What if leadership and business development were married? Or leadership and client service? Today's article will show you that leadership, client service, and client development are inextricably linked. What's more, those who recognize the link and act accordingly do have a competitive advantage in client service and rainmaking.
  • Servant-Leadership What's In It For Them  (5/6/2008)
  • Like a president, under at least some circumstances, lawyer-leaders must both lead and serve those who have "elected" them to a leadership position, whether in a client relationship or in firm management. And that's where today's article on servant-leadership comes in.
  • Change This  (4/29/2008)
  • Just sitting, especially when feeling tense or concentrating intently, can be physically demanding. That's why I aim to get up and move at least every 45 minutes and to incorporate physical activity into my day. If you've attended one of my Five Foundations of Time Mastery programs, you know that I hammer on this point. It's in that spirit that I offer you a resource this week: a short ChangeThis manifesto on embodied leadership.
  • Quotation of the Month  (4/22/2008)
  • As you read these quotes, consider in what situations a lawyer-leader can and should act as a servant, and in what contexts taking on that role could prove challenging.
  • What's the difference between leadership and management -- and why does it matter?  (4/15/2008)
  • I was a part of a facilitated discussion last week in which one participant opined that management and leadership are really the same thing, but leadership is a more attractive term that's more likely to generate buy-in. I strongly believe, however, that it's useful to draw the distinction between management and leadership and to choose which set of skills to use in any given circumstance.
  • HBR Article: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life.  (4/8/2008)
  • Stewart Friedman urges leaders to seek "four-way wins," meaning high performance in the four domains of life: work, home, community, and self (mind, body, and spirit).
  • Understanding corporate literature to maximize practice management and client service  (4/1/2008)
  • Today's article looks to the corporate world both to inform attorneys' own practice management perspectives and also to forge a common bond with clients.
  • Quotation of the Month  (3/25/2008)
  • Consider both client relations and law firm management as you read this month's quotations. How do these quotes color your thoughts?

  • Leadership and Self Management -- Pt 2  (3/18/2008)
  • This week's article delves deeper into self-management and asks where your area of opportunity might lie. Perhaps you can improve the way you use your time, your ability to focus on the tasks and people in front of you, or something else. A strong foundation of self-mastery supports both individual achievement and leadership development. How can you strengthen your foundation?
  • Book Review: Leadership and Self Deception  (3/11/2008)
  • The concepts set out in this book are simple, though not necessarily easy, to apply. Since most of what lawyers do revolves around communicating and working with others, opportunities to use the learning abound.
  • Leadership and Self Management  (3/4/2008)
  • A leader's development tends to proceed through three stages. The first stage is self-management. The second is individual achievement. The third is leading others. Although these three stages are distinct from one another, they may coexist and a leader may move back and forth through these stages at various times. Today's discussion focuses on the first stage: self-management or leadership of oneself.
  • Quotations of the Month  (2/26/2008)
  • Next week's article will address self-management and leadership. In that vein, consider these quotes . . .
  • The Tightrope: Tensions in Leadership for Lawyers  (2/12/2008)
  • It shouldn't be a secret that certain tensions surround leadership for lawyers. This article examines a few prevalent tensions.
  • What Does Leadership Mean for Lawyers?  (1/29/2008)
  • Think of a leader you know. Perhaps this person is someone in your firm, someone you know through a bar organization, or perhaps even opposing counsel in a case you've had.
  • Does Leadership Matter for Lawyers?  (1/15/2008)
  • The first step on the leadership development path lies in revealing the many dimensions of leadership, which opens opportunities for a leader's growth. And it's that conversation where we begin by asking the question: Does Leadership Matter for Lawyers?
  • 2009 Archived Newsletters
  • Don't Underplay Yourself
  • When a law firm hires me to work with a junior associate, very often one part of the engagement centers of the associate's leadership presence and self-confidence - how he or she presents to others. (Of course, that focus is not by any means unique to junior associates.) Although reviewers may use a variety of words such as proactive, poised, assertive, or self-assured, they're usually looking to see to what extent the lawyer is able to present as a leader, as someone who is sufficiently self-confident to inspire others' confidence. Such a person typically contributes to conversations, asks insightful questions, and is willing to express an opinion or espouse a position.
  • The Successful Lawyers' Secret
  • It's been a bloody year for law firms, and all signals indicate that it's likely to get worse before it gets better. Even before last week's mass layoffs, the lateral market was slow. Those who have been considering a move may decide to stay put for now, and those who were laid off are facing some tough decisions.
  • Leadership That Gets Results
  • Daniel Goleman gained notoriety in the mid-1990s for identifying competencies related to "emotional intelligence," or the ability to perceive, regulate, understand, and work with emotions to enhance leadership. Those competencies are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. Based on research by the consulting firm Hay/McBer, Goleman identifies six distinct leadership styles, each of which uses a unique combination of the emotional intelligence competencies.
  • If Your're Triggered, Send SOS (S)
  • One of my clients ("Bob") has had numerous bad experiences with opposing counsel. Over the last few years, he's felt more and more worn down by angry phone calls, disingenuous arguments, and general incivility.
  • Business Development for Leaders
  • Lawyers with whom I speak are often uncomfortable in rainmaking, especially in moving from a general conversation to one in which the lawyer might ask for a potential client's business. No one wants to appear pushy or desperate, and most lawyers have a natural aversion to selling themselves. A lawyer who's always self-promoting and trying to get business is not appealing. Nobody wants to talk with that kind of lawyer, and most of us don't want to be him or her.
  • True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership
  • True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership is a useful book for those who seek to develop themselves as leaders. As the above quote indicates, this book is about the leader him- or herself: how the leader develops, and how to identify and interpret the sources that give rise to the authentic leadership.
  • Are You Insane?
  • I know you've been reading the negative legal news over the past few months. Some of you have been directly affected, and some fear that you might be hit next. Today's article presents the five steps that you must take now. These apply whether you're looking for a new job (voluntarily or otherwise), trying to make yourself more valuable so your practice will flourish or so you'll be considered indispensable at your firm, just starting out, a seasoned practitioner - you get the idea. These five steps are also critical in business development, so pay special attention if rainmaking is on your goal list for 2009.
JFlemingBrown signatureJulie A. Fleming, JD
Life at the Bar LLC
2107 North Decatur Road #281
Decatur, Georgia 30033-5305