You learn to practice law by doing it


In law school, you learn the law, not how to practice law. You learn that by doing it.

Studying, answering questions under the glaring eye of your professor, and taking tests are important. But only when you start clerking do you begin to learn what it means to practice law.

You watch other lawyers negotiate, argue motions, and take depositions. You draft documents, talk to adjusters, and sit with clients and fill out forms. You immerse yourself in the environment of a real-world practice and do many of the things that lawyers do.

When you pass the bar and take your first job as a lawyer, you do more and learn more. If you open your own practice and have to sink or swim, that’s when you learn the most.

Learning how to practice law is a process and it takes place over time. The same is true of learning how to manage and grow your practice. Unfortunately, not much (or anything) about that is taught in law school. You won’t learn much from clerking, either.

Hiring and supervising employees, billing, insurance, compliance, and 101 other things, but especially marketing, without which you won’t have a practice, all require time to learn and become proficient. It’s up to you to learn it on your own.

And yet, most lawyers don’t take the time to learn these things. They dive in and see what happens.

That’s how I did it. There were no courses on marketing when I began practicing. Very few books. No consultants, at least none that I could afford. I didn’t know any lawyers who were willing to take me under their wing and teach me what to do.

I learned marketing by doing it. And you know what? That works, too.

Today, there are more options that make things easier. Lots of books and courses. You can learn how to set up your own website by watching youtube videos and complete everything in less than an hour. You can hire people to teach you what to do and to do much of it for you.

But you have to do something.

Don’t let a lack of experience stop you. As soon as you know enough to start, start. You’ll figure out the rest as you go along.

Don’t let fear stop you. As Mark Twain said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

But do something. Because you learn how to practice law by doing it.

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