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Advice to Entry Level Attorneys

published August 02, 2013

Horst, Robert T.
( 45 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
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My name is Bob Horst. I'm a Partner at Curtin & Heefner in Doylestown, PA (suburban Philadelphia). Prior to my partnership here, I was a longtime Managing Partner and Recruiter at a mid-sized specialty firm. I have 14 years of experience in law firm management, strategic planning and attorney hiring/recruiting. My litigation practice is focused on representing insurance companies and I've handled cases in 14 different states.

I have some insight, I believe, that may help younger lawyers in private practice, i.e. working at a law firm.

Work hard. Entry level lawyers have to work exceptionally hard in order to excel and advance. It's not a cliché; rather, it's a harsh reality. Clients are demanding as are the demands of the practice, especially litigation. Hard work and long hours are the norm.

Be profitable. Whatever your revenue goals, exceed them. The practice of law is a business. No matter how "good" you may be, the firm's life blood is your billable time. Meet and exceed your goals.

Client contact. If I had it all to do over again, I'd focus on client service even earlier. If a firm doesn't allow new lawyers to have client contact, I'd consider leaving as quickly as I reasonably could. Even young lawyers should have client service and contact as part of their responsibilities.

Mentor. Find a few mentors (yes, plural) that you can trust. Then, take their advice. Personally, I waited a bit too long to seek out good advice. When you get good advice -- and you take it! -- I believe you advance more quickly and you have more career satisfaction. The best scenario is when your mentor also champions you. That kind of advocacy is close to invaluable.

Last, maybe most importantly, say yes. When there's opportunity, say yes. Meet clients. Work on newsletters and blogs. Do more because you may not be asked again!

Please see this article to find out if litigation is right for you: Why Most Attorneys Have No Business Being Litigators: Fifteen Reasons Why You Should Not Be a Litigator

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