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Top 10 tips for business lawyers

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Top tips

Last month, the ABA Journal published a series of tips for young lawyers from senior lawyers who participated in the ABA’s Briefly Speaking contest. This month, we’re sharing the next round of advice—this time aimed at litigators and business lawyers. Jacob McBride of Weinstein Radcliff Pipkin in Dallas won in the business lawyers category.

“If you are joining an established firm, determine quickly who your ‘trusted associate’ should be: They’ll be your best asset if you are having a difficult time with an assignment or if you have questions that you are too embarrassed to ask your supervising partner.”

Stephanie Thompson
Department of Justice
Salem, Oregon

“Understand how the business works so that you can understand what needs to be in the documents, and so that you do not waste client time and money with irrelevant clauses, provisions and negotiations. Clients don’t like lawyers who kill their deals but appreciate lawyers who understand their business and help them mitigate real risk.”

Rochelle Friedman Walk
Aegis Law
Tampa, Florida

“You will be working on multiple deals—use a different pad of paper and file system on your desk to keep track of each deal. List the lawyers you are working with on the front. If one calls, you can quickly get your brain around the relevant deal. This way, you won’t confuse facts of various deals.”

Jennifer Coon
Thomson Reuters
New York City

“Know where the bathrooms are. You’re a litigator, which means you will be going to court. Chances are you will have a client with you. Your client will ask you where in the courthouse the bathroom is located. If you don’t know, the client will assume you don’t practice in that court and will never hire you again. However, if you say it’s down the hall and to the right, your client will know that you know your way around. That means more business.”

Lee Mendelson
Mendelson Law Firm
Bridgehampton, New York

“Never stop learning. The ABA has tons of free webinars for Business Law Section members with great information to keep you up to date in your current practice area, to help you expand your practice or to put new things on your radar. Given the relatively high price of many legal publications, this has been an incredibly cost-effective way of keeping myself educated.”

Brent Kampe
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena, California

“To gain perspective on potential pitfalls in any transaction, ask a litigator.”

Jacob McBride
Weinstein Radcliff Pipkin
Dallas

“When you conduct your due diligence on the new client (small business), not only should you research the legal requirements for the engagement but more importantly understand the culture of the client to ensure you provide not only the best product but also one that they will gladly utilize and be comfortable with.”

Frank Steiner
Frank Steiner Law
Nashville, Tennessee

“Build trust with your clients and colleagues. As the chief legal officer for my company, I hire lawyers who I trust—I trust them to do the job with excellence and integrity.”

Courtney Fong
CompTIA
Chicago

“Approach generating and maintaining clients like dating:

1) Be confident in yourself first.

2) Mingle where singles congregate.

3) Don’t solely depend on your online presence (your LinkedIn profile).

4) Flatter, but don’t be needy.

5) Mention what you do, but mostly let them talk.

6) Take it slow (building client relationships takes time and patience).

7) Have them meet the parents (if you are part of a larger firm, arrange a meeting with your more experienced bosses to help you get a contract signed).

8) Celebrate your anniversaries and show your appreciation.”

Kevin Peek
Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard
St. Louis

“While representing major investment banks and broker-dealers, the first question I always asked my client when I learned of a potential wrongdoing was, “How do you want this to read on the first page of the Wall Street Journal?’ Your client needs to fall on the sword and reach out to the appropriate regulatory body or SRO as early in the process as possible.”

Kathryn Natale (retired)
Rye Brook, New York

Top 10 Tips for Business Lawyers

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