What it takes to be a successful lawyer running your own practice - Katherine Beckett

I believe that any lawyer can build a profitable first-class legal practice that creates time freedom and career flexibility whilst providing an excellent service for clients. Once the lawyer knows what their ideal law firm looks like, they can create a personal blueprint, apply the Pillars of Legal Practice and create a robust law-based business that brings professional fulfilment and financial stability.

As a lawyer for over 20 years that has always tried to swim upstream, I can attest first hand to the headache, heartache and sense of frustration that a legal career can bring. I can also bear witness to the freedom and sense of optimism that building a successful law firm generates, both as a professional and as a team leader.

Each individual lawyer is a microcosm of the law firm. Every fee-earner is running their own practice and to be successful, it needs to align with the business philosophy of the firm. For this to work, the senior leadership team must be completely congruent on its ethos. This is not a marketing exercise that can be outsourced. It must be raw and accurate and based in reality, not aspiration. It also needs to be communicated to every member of the team regularly, repeatedly and consistently.

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Within the overall framework, each lawyer must have room to design their own practice – who they serve, how they do it, when they work, where they work – in order to meet the requirements of the senior management team. There must be open-mindedness and flexibility in this; not an invitation to anarchy, but certainly a tolerance for new ideas.

Katherine Beckett is a practising lawyer and Amazon best-selling author of ‘The Notary Solution’.Katherine Beckett is a practising lawyer and Amazon best-selling author of ‘The Notary Solution’.
Katherine Beckett is a practising lawyer and Amazon best-selling author of ‘The Notary Solution’.

Then every lawyer must apply the Pillars of Legal Practice. They must be willing to be visible, efficient, expert and bold in order to make their practice design a reality.

To be visible, they must make themselves known to their ideal clients, both current and potential. They must create their own reputations.

Efficiency means doing the right thing in the right way at the right time. To be a successful lawyer, it is essential to be profitable and safe. This requires a systematic approach and a deep tolerance for organisation and routine.

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Expertise cannot be assumed, it is intentionally developed and honed. One cannot be a first-class lawyer without creating a niche. This does not have to be an area of law necessarily – but all exceptional lawyers are regarded as specialists in some way.

To be bold is not something we are taught in law school. This is the aspect of practice that most professionals overlook, incorrectly assuming that their results will carry them to career success. But boldness is a muscle that needs to be exercised, strengthened and developed. Boldness means taking our heads out of our files, making the pitches, approaching the dream clients, accepting the speaking opportunities and applying to the positions that will elevate. To be a key player in the profession, a first-class lawyer must be willing to be bold in making their dream legal practice a reality, to take the career enhancing actions that scare and exhilarate.

It is my assertion that, starting from exactly where they are, any lawyer can build a profitable first class legal practice that is perfectly suited to their own unique circumstances, talents and preferences, which provides an exceptional service to clients and positively contributes to the evolution of the profession.

Katherine Beckett is a practising lawyer and Amazon best-selling author of ‘The Notary Solution’.

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