Question of the Week

In what ways have you been underestimated, and how do you deal with that?


Being underestimated can be extremely frustrating, especially when you’re a new lawyer trying to drum up business, as Katie Kizer and Amanda Graham discovered while starting their own criminal defense firm.

“Other lawyers will call us ‘honey,’ ‘sweetie,’ ‘darling,’ ‘the girls,’ ” said Graham. “It can be very difficult to be sitting with your client and have people refer to you in that way.”

People may judge you for all sorts of characteristics, like age, gender, accent, apparel, the schools you attended or your family background. Being underestimated could give you an edge, however; if opposing counsel doesn’t take you seriously, they might not prepare as thoroughly. Your perceived failings could turn out to be a stealth attack.

So this week, we’d like to ask you: Have you been underestimated as a lawyer? How did you deal with it?

Answer in the comments—and if you’d rather not be underestimated, Forbes.com has seven tips on making a good first impression, including handshakes, good posture and raised eyebrows.

Read the answers to last week’s question: How do you get through the day after a losing verdict?

Featured answer: “During my 36 years and 300+ jury trials, I lost many I should have won, but won many I should have lost. After a tough loss, often when my child was young I would just go spend some uninterrupted hours with her and that would renew my focus and put things in perspective. When she was in college, I redirected those times to my best friend, who is my spouse. Time with them always let me see the big picture and realize no matter how bad the loss, the sun comes up the next day and life moves on.”

Posted by: Randy Fischer

Do you have an idea for a future question of the week? If so, contact us.

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