California Bar Journal
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


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Front Page - November 2001
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News / News Briefs
Applicants sought to oversee bar's diversion program
Let's have another cup of - legal advice
Foundation leads students to capital
Six honored for professional service
Warwick, six others named to California Judicial Council
Several thousand lawyers suspended for failing to pay dues, certify MCLE
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Trials Digest
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From the President - Remembering the fallen
The rule of law is our strongest weapon
Pro bono work is lawyers' duty
Letters to the Editor
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Law Practice - Success: The top eight requirements
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You Need to Know
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MCLE Self-Study
Planning for education expenses
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Ethics Byte - Lawyers move on in usual way despite disaster
Former city councilman spent his son's settlement
Attorney Discipline
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Public Comment


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Success: The top eight requirements
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A recent survey of top lawyers revealed a core group of common denominators - the top eight requirements - to achieving success:

Find something you love to do

Passionate, contented and happy attorneys perform better, deliver higher quality legal services and get better results for their clients. In general, they feel better about themselves and their careers.

The client comes first

There is one common truth associated with profitable, growing businesses of all types: The customer is Number One. This belief or mindset means that you educate the client about the judicial system and the particulars of his or her matter, develop reasonable expectations in the client and then perform as though this were the only client you were serving.

Think like an owner

Many attorneys may think like employees, merely punching their time card on a daily basis. Ask this question: "If I were the owner of this business, what would I do to improve this situation?" Coupled with the attitude that the client comes first, your actions are now based on keeping clients and increasing the firm's revenues and profits, a sure recipe for personal success.

Be a problem-solver

Instead of just reacting, look ahead for solutions to client problems. Too many attorneys are so busy with immediate concerns that they cannot look forward for ways to solve future problems. Successful attorneys think about the long-term effects of actions taken now and in the future.

Edward PollNever stop learning

Successful attorneys have always continued their education and currently take more than the minimum requirements. It is impossible to know everything in any one field of endeavor, let alone everything that is contained in the vast and growing area of resources made available by books, the internet, etc. To be successful, you have to continue to learn new information and update old thinking.

Develop a knowledge of business

When an attorney seeks business clients, it's important to be able to speak their lingo. Conversation and advice from an attorney that helps a client in his or her own business is usually well-received, and it also lets the client know that the attorney can see the entire impact of the current situation on the client's business.

Treat partners as clients

Most large firms tend to be a conglomerate of sole practitioners, and, unfortunately, the attorneys fail to really integrate the practices with others in the firm. An outstanding and too-often-underused source of new business is your own partners and the relationships they have with the outside world.

Make yourself invaluable

Make a difference in the lives of your clients. Go the extra mile and provide a service that clients feel they have to have. Know your clients' business and anticipate their future problems. When you become truly invaluable to a client, you will always compete successfully for their business.

Edward Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC, is a certified management consultant in Los Angeles who advises attorneys and law firms on how to deliver their services more effectively while increasing their profits at the same time. Poll can be reached at 1-800/837-5880,, or at