“A great leader was once a great follower.”
When it comes to leadership for lawyers it’s no different. In the legal profession, some may have the leadership thought imbibed in their being while some may not. But leadership is a thought that can be learned over time, nevertheless. And for that to happen one must be an intelligent follower too, grasping all that they can from their mentors.
The development of leadership skills allows associates to develop themselves, to lead their own work to begin with, and to take on more responsibility as they progress and lead projects, cases, and teams.
Often, these thoughts related to the development of leadership skills in an individual may not be majorly focused in law schools and in the law firms too and they have to wait to be taught in leadership programs that happen at the senior level. Learning these skills earlier will prepare the associates just entering the profession for the actual practice of law and for serving clients most effectively.
“They also plant the seeds necessary for future leadership roles and equip associates for success throughout their careers.”
And importantly it’s the responsibility of the associate too to build their legal careers by constantly seeking to upgrade and polish their leadership skills through application.
Below mentioned are some of the leadership skills that may be of immense value to the associate and thereby to the firm and clients.
High moral & ethical standards
A long and successful legal career depends on the ability to demonstrate this attribute. It gains trust and respect at all levels – clients, colleagues, and most importantly the lawyer’s own conscience.
This attribute will be put to test throughout the career of a lawyer and there is a thin line of choices to make. The most effective way to maintain the standard is following a mentor in the firm and adhere to the professional values of the firm and the individual.
Seek to learn from other senior associates
This is an important attribute of a leader. To never shy away from asking for help. When in doubt, never just manage. Seek! Counsel a senior associate. The humility to ask always begins with the thought that not everything can be done alone. This acceptance always helps an associate to build good relationships among colleagues and be helped when in need.
Build networks and maintain relationships
Collaboration creates more and the best always. As one advances in their legal career, one may have to juggle multiple cases and projects that need more understanding than what is available already. The only way to do that is to work effectively and harmoniously with colleagues and clients who are diverse.
Here, communication becomes critical. It’s the essential component to collaborate at all levels.
This must have been at the top of the list. Ownership is more of a thought and a level of being. Whichever firm that one may work for, always be focused on a contribution. And that can be done when one can see the task at hand as one’s own responsibility. The firm and the associates are one and the same for this personality trait. Ownership is the beginning point of leadership. It reflects in all areas of one’s actions while working with the client, the firm, and how the associate presents himself or herself beyond the work.
If this one attribute is felt and imbibed, rest all attributes beyond all the above, can fall in place sooner than one may think.
Adding these skills to a legal associate will enable them to take on more responsibility earlier in their careers and begin to develop an ownership mentality. They will start to think like leaders, if not already.
“Leadership is a thought and can be learned.”