Working Smart: Lessons for lawyers from IT consultants

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Lessons for lawyers from IT consultants

10 things I wish I’d known before becoming an IT consultant | TechRepublic Thanks to TechRepublic for showing once again that a lesson IT for one is a lesson for all.

Lawyers are not unique in their need to pay attention to the nuances of working smart, and new lawyers and law clerks should see themselves in this post. The most important takeaways are:

Self Assessment

Self-assessment and market research are critical before embarking on a new career path. Talk to people who do the work that you are contemplating. Do as many of the personality tests that you can to give yourself clues to finding your workplace. Every minute spent on self-assessment will pay off in the long run.

Unhappy Clients

Despite your competence, clients may not be happy with your work. Some clients are naturally unhappy people; others clients simply don’t want to pay — ever. For law clerks and new lawyers, know that your boss is not there to be your friend or to make you happy. Do the best work that you can by getting the best and clearest instructions for each assignment.

Know-it-all

Clients expect you to know everything and be able to fix their problems immediately. When IT is outsourced, clients hope that the IT consultant who stops in to fix one thing can stop and fix everything. Similarly, lawyers are expected to know everything legal. Ask experienced lawyers how many times they have heard “It’s a law isn’t it? You’re a lawyer, aren’t you? You should know this.” Learning to stand your ground and to deftly manage problems that are beyond either the scope of your current assignments or beyond your physical capacity to complete is tricky.

Asking and negotiating

When faced with an assignment in an area in which you can barely spell the substantive law, and have no knowledge of either the law or the policy, breathe deeply and ask two questions:

  •  What resources would be the best places to start?
  •  Who in [the firm or agency] has done a similar project?

Before turning down an emergency assignment because you have two other tasks due tomorrow at 9 a.m., ask whether you can have an extended deadline or whether the assigning attorney will help you get extensions from the attorneys who assigned your current projects.

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