Moving On Up: Reaching the Next Rung on the Law Firm Ladder


This article is a sequel of sorts to my earlier article, "What They Didn't Teach You In Law School," which appeared in the Washington Lawyer in December 2010. While the earlier article was aimed at lawyers in their first few years in the firm, this article is for the mid-career lawyer who is intent on seeking out tangible ways to stand out in a competitive legal marketplace. "Moving On Up: Reaching the Next Rung on the Law Firm Ladder" identifies 13 practical steps practitioners can take to move up the law firm's advancement ladder, from maximizing opportunities for face-time with clients to eliminating the complaints about how overwhelmingly busy they are. In addition to identifying strategies that helped me build a financial services and mortgage regulatory practice over nearly 30 years, I describe the things that (in retrospect) I think I could have done better (such as learning more about technology and technology law). I have interviewed several highly successful law firm partners in the preparation of this article and while they are anonymous, their valuable input is appreciated.

Many of the approaches and strategies mentioned in this article may seem self-evident and indeed, some of the best career strategies I know are hidden in plain sight. The distinction between knowing what to do and actually doing it, however, has outsized consequences. To take Thomas Edison out of context, law firm success strategies might be less dependent on inspiration than perspiration.

Feedback on this and any of my other published articles is welcome and appreciated.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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