The Bridge - September 2013 - (Page 12)

Attorney Development: Is There an App for That? By Dr. Cindy Pladziewicz Law schools don’t do a very good job of equipping new lawyers for practice. I am privileged to have completed two professional educations, law school and a psychology graduate program. These two experiences could not have been more different. When I completed law school in 1982, I knew little about the practice of law or the business of lawyering, much less how to form corporations, draft contracts or take a case to trial. I had no idea how to check for conflicts, ensure that my fees would be paid, work with a secretary or keep a file. In short, I relied on my first legal employer to show me everything. I was embarrassed to ask questions. I thought I should know everything and was keenly aware that I did not. Fortunately for me, I began my practice in a kinder and gentler time when senior lawyers and staff had much more time than they do today to tend to my education. Even so, I now realize that when I resigned my legal partnership in 1991 to return to graduate school, there were still many aspects of law firm economics, client development and management to which I remained blissfully ignorant. In contrast to my law school experience, graduate school prepared me well to practice my craft as a psychologist. By the end of my first year of school, I had real patients, well documented files, experience in negotiating and collecting professional fees on behalf of the student clinic, and a reasonable understanding of the ethics and liability issues associated with my new profession. During the entire four years of graduate school, my fellow students and I carried a patient caseload and worked 20 hours per week or more as psychology interns in the community. Upon receipt of my degree, I completed a one-year apprenticeship required for licensure. I then put out a shingle and started my own practice with a reasonable level of confidence. Why am I telling you this? To reinforce what you already know……compared to many other entry level professionals, new lawyers are less prepared to practice their craft. And until our IT departments come out with a smart phone application to bring them along, they will need your guidance just as I did. 12 Golden Gate Chapter Here are a few ideas for how to do just  Ask lawyers if they want to know more that: about an issue. When a lawyer comes to you for help in opening a file, running a  If you have the good fortune to work for conflict, understanding billing and colleca firm with personnel dedicated to lawyer tions, dealing with a personnel issue, etc., development, look for ways to team with it’s a great time to ask if they would be them in developing young lawyers. As interested in knowing more about how Chief Development Officer with a large this particular aspect of the practice law firm, I worked closely with my firm’s works. administrative leaders to make sure our lawyers got the full benefit of the training  Client Development is key. The biggest and resources available to them. Our ef- complaint I receive from the young partforts ran in both directions. I worked hard ners I coach is that they are ill-prepared to make sure new lawyers received the to develop clients and, yet, are expected full benefit of our technology, and knew to do so fairly quickly after entering the how to work better with our staff. Our IT partnership. Engaging your marketing group, HR and staff leadership worked personnel, senior lawyers and others in with me to make sure I hit the right helping young lawyers understand busichords with our new lawyers in preparing ness development early in their careers is them to effectively work with all of our critical for their long-term success and for firm’s resources, especially our incredible that of your firm. human resources.  Let your staff know that it’s okay to offer  Understand lawyer personalities. As a help when they see a better way. In my group, lawyers are more time-urgent, experience, lawyers are not very good at pessimistic, skeptical, sensitive to criti- asking for help in understanding what cism, and independent-minded than the they do not know. Reinforce to young typical person. I recommend taking a look lawyers the wisdom that your staff proat Dr. Larry Richard’s article “Herding vides, and the firm’s expectation that they Cats: The Lawyer Personality Re- will respect and utilize the wise people vealed” ( you have put in place to help them. For those of us working with lawyers, tact, responsiveness to time demands, In today’s fast-paced and constantlyresilience and adaptability go a long way changing law firm environment, young toward forging relationships. lawyers must hit the ground running and develop quickly. And yes, there is an app  Use mentoring as a tool. Firms often for that: it’s you. understand the need for attorney mentors. I would take it a step further. Newer Dr. Cindy Pladziewicz attorneys need business mentors as well. ( trains, coaches and consults with lawyers and law This person may well be you. firms on lawyer and staff development, including  Consider utilizing a coach yourself or referring a coach to your lawyers to manage individual and firm developmental challenges. When people and organizations need to change to meet the demands of the marketplace, good coaches can often get them there more quickly and with less effort. In many corporations, coaching is an investment made in top leaders and high potentials to help the organization grow and thrive. You can find more information on lawyer coaching in my article “Do Lawyers Need a Coach?” Pladziewicz.pdf for the American Lawyer Daily. leadership and interpersonal skill development, diversity and women’s issues, and business development. Reprinted with permission from “The Lonestar Administrator,” the newsletter published by the Dallas Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators, October / November 2011 September 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Bridge - September 2013

The Bridge - September 2013
Editor’s Corner
President’s Message
The New Normal: Alternative Fee Arrangements & Project Management for Lawyers
Business Partner Profile: Matt Workman, Planet Depos, LLC
Business Partner Appreciation Event
New Member Profile: Garry Pallister
Attorney Development: Is There an App for That?
Member Profile: Kim Quackenbush
Salary Survey Order Form
Test Yourself
Job Bank
Member Anniversaries
2013 Business Partners
Golden Gate Chapter Leadership
October 2013 Calendar

The Bridge - September 2013