Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Being the Lawyer People Expect to Meet

When meeting someone for the first time we have nanoseconds before we are judged and cataloged. We either fit his/her expectations and have an opportunity to continue toward a relationship, or we did not fit... and the relationship has already failed.

Attorneys face a double whammy! First, a lawyer is judged as a person and in that same nanosecond, judged and cataloged as a lawyer.

Most attorneys I've ever known are incredible people and in most cases will pass the first test with flying colors. Unfortunately, many I know do not pass the second -- the reason will surprise you.

Growing up in a media age your clients and prospects eat a continual diet of images and personalities via television, media outlets and movies that leaves an imprint of whom a lawyer is, performs and acts. It's a stereotype. Whether you project the stereotype, or not, will impact first impressions -- the nanosecond before judgment.

In general, everyone who is not a lawyer expects you (the lawyer) to act like a lawyer. What that looks like is this:
  • Composed
  • Eloquent
  • Serious
  • In control
  • Successfully attired (fitting to the occasion)
  • Appropriately opinionated
  • Poised
  • Aggressive
  • Smart
  • Successful
In other words, a leader with class and distinction.

None of this whole stereotyping stuff is fair, but it's real and everyday. If you wish to succeed as a lawyer I encourage you to act like one!

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