Tag Archives: Legal Profession

8 Tips to Get Your Email Read…and Answered.

If there’s one thing we do a lot of as lawyers, it’s write, and read, a lot of email. Making sure an email is read is as important as the information in it. An unread email might as well not be sent (except for liability reasons, but that’s another blog post…). Continue reading

Practice Tip #12: Dress the Part; Dress like Bond

I’d rather wear my pajamas to work. Who wouldn’t?

Maybe people would take me seriously if I identified myself as a lawyer on my hoodie...but probably not.

It would be more comfortable than the cravat I tie around my neck each day, and I could throw on a hoodie, too,  if it was chilly. Pajamas would be more comfortable.

If only.

Since we live in the real world, though, I wear what my job requires, and it makes a difference. People treat you differently and based on what you wear. Superficial? Maybe, but Twain had it right when he said that

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

It’s true. In in our “society,” people judge us based on what we wear, and what we wear should match what we conclusions we want people to draw about us. If you want people to take you seriously, you shouldn’t show up for work in a hoodie. If you’re a lawyer, that includes client interviews, calls into the partner’s office, and court appearances.

In the legal department I work in, as well as the firms many of my friends and colleagues slave away at, not to mention in court, a hoodie will just will not garner the kind of respect it did when I was a college kid.

So, how should you dress? What if picking out a tie that matches is for you, like it is for me, a daunting proposition? In that case, look to the master. And by master, I mean James Bond.

That’s right. No one knows how to wear a suit like 007.

The look is classic, simple, and maintains its style even today.

Matt Spaiser, creator of the blog The Suits of James Bond (yeah, there’s a whole blog about them, says that:

James Bond has most likely influenced people’s suit-wearing habits more than any other fictional character has. Dr. No (1962, directed by Terence Young) established the classic look for the character for the many films that followed. Throughout Dr. No, Sean Connery wears five unique tailored ensembles. Each outfit is simple, classic and worthy of imitation. The idea was to put Bond in suits that were distinctly British, but keep things simple because a secret agent should never stand out. Yet because of this simplicity, the clothes still look fresh today.

You hear that? “…worthy of imitation.” Which is what you should do. There’s a reason he gets all the girls (though looking like Sean Connery, double 0 status, and a  devil-may-care attitude may not hurt, either).  And there’s a reason that men who want to make a great impression are wearing the style of suits four decades later.

As for ties, that’s a bit more of a practical consideration than just picking out a classic and conservative looking suit. It’s also a choice you’ve got to make more often than a suit. Lifehacker suggests picking ties that match your clothes, not clothes that match your tie. In other words, look [at what clothes you own] before you leap [and buy that fantastic looking tie that ends up matching very little you own].

The point is don’t buy a tie just because it looks great–-buy neckwear that is of the right proportion for your body and is of a color and pattern that works well with your shirts and suits. You want your ties to match your clothing–not look good by themselves.

James Bond Exhibition : Science Museum, London

Image by Craig Grobler via Flickr

Remember, then, these quick tips: wear a classic suit (at least to court when you’ve got to be there), and match the tie to the suit. You’ll be hunting double agents and international criminals in no time, not to mention letting the judge, and your clients, know that you mean business.

APROPOS: If you’ve got the huevos to bust out a bow tie, go for it. It’s guaranteed to add panache to your  repertoire and you won’t have to worry about getting food on it during those expensive business meals.

(Ladies, sorry. I’m not going to even try to suggest what is professional for you.)

Law Practice Tip #6: Quitting the Job with Class

What do you do when a great opportunity comes along and it’s time to leave that first job?

Walk carefully. Leaving that first job, and how you do it, can have a lasting impact on your career. The legal community is not so large that reputation cannot follow you.

Valerie Fontaine and Roberta Kass over at law.com advise to plan ahead. Before giving notice, have your personal items cleaned up and out of the building in case your soon-to-be former-employer decides that two weeks notice is two weeks too much. Also, clean off your computer of any personal files. Don’t take anything that’s not yours, either; proprietary information remains with your employer.

Also, review your current firm’s policies regarding bonuses, unused vacation, sick days, holidays, continuation of health and other benefits, and any vested retirement or investment funds, beforehand, so you don’t take any action to jeopardize what is due to you. This is a good time to turn in any requests for unclaimed reimbursements, as well. After giving notice, meet with your firm’s benefits manager to arrange for COBRA, the calculation and transfer of any funds due you, and any other financial details.

Remember to advise clients of the change in relationship, and remember that they are the firms clients, first.

Other pieces of advice include:

  • Be constructive in the exit interview and don’t use it to rant or nitpick.
  • Turn in requests for unclaimed reimbursements before you resign, and review policies regarding bonuses and continuation of health care.
  • “Graciously accept” offers to go out for lunch or have drinks with colleagues, but don’t brag and don’t make the get-togethers into gripe sessions.
  • Write thank-you notes to colleagues who have contributed to your career, remember their birthdays, and, if appropriate, refer business to them.

Good luck!

(h/t to ABA Journal and Law.com)

Am I a lawyer or attorney? (or counsel?)

Beyond the Underground has an interesting, and short, exploration of the uses of “attorney” versus “lawyer.”   In part:

According to Garner’s “Dictionary of Modern American Usage,” the two “are not generally distinguished even by members of the legal profession.”

Once upon a time, a lawyer was defined as a person who practices law, while an attorney was a lawyer with a client. So that in 1965, the author of “The Careful Writer” noted that “a lawyer is an attorney only when he has a client.” These days, such a distinction seems kooky. What lawyer doesn’t have a client?

Garner also mentions that “lawyer” might have negative connotations. But what about the prairie lawyer, Abraham Lincoln? Can you imagine “Lincoln: The Prairie Attorney”?

In this economy, I’m just glad to have a client, no matter what that client calls me.