The New Lawyer’s Handbook

ISBN: 9781572487093

By: Karen Thalacker

Published: 03/03/2009

Expert advice on becoming a better lawyer.

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101 Success Strategies They Didn't Teach You in Law School - get expert advice on becoming a better lawyer. Law school prepares you to think like a lawyer, write like a lawyer, and research like a lawyer—but once you're in the door of a law firm, there's a whole new set of skills you need. The New Lawyer's Handbook guides you through the 101 essential things you need to know in order to excel. From how to handle your clients and how to work with people in your office, to why it pays to learn to play golf and maintain some semblance of a family life even as you make your billables, The New Lawyer's Handbook gives you the knowledge you need to succeed.

About the Author

Karen Thalacker

Karen L. Thalacker is a practicing attorney at Gallagher, Langlas, and Gallagher in Iowa. She is also an adjunct professor at Wartburg College where she teaches Business Law.


Table of Contents


Section I: Starting Out Right at a Law Firm
1. Get the details of your employment agreement in writing
2. Appearances matter
3. Have extra essentials at the office
4. Work when you are at work
5. A to-do list is your constant companion
6. The importance of having a good assistant
7. When you're an associate, draft means final
8. You don't know everything

Section II: Understanding Law Firm Politics
9. When your law office is more like the set of Survivor
10. Avoid having a romantic relationship with someone in your office
11. Foster a close relationship with someone in your office who has your back
12. It helps to be a golfer
13. What to do if a colleague is struggling

Section III: General Tips for Having a Successful Practice
14. Avoiding legal pet peeves
15. Don't tolerate bad behavior
16. Learn to be a better listener and a better communicator
17. Don't give advice to strangers over the phone
18. Resist the pressure to take a case you're not qualified to take
19. Find experienced lawyers you can talk to
20. Don't procrastinate
21. What to do when opposing counsel is a jerk
22. You can always be a jerk later
23. Think twice before accusing someone of an ethical violation

Section IV: The Business of Practicing Law
24. Be as involved as possible in your law firm's finances
25. The importance of a good filing system
26. Earning a living as a lawyer is a tough buck
27. How to build your practice
28. Treat your client like a customer
29. Get the money up front
30. How to close a case
31. Never let your malpractice insurance lapse
32. Keep up with your billable hours
33. Legal research isn't free anymore
34. Disaster planning

Section V: Becoming Comfortable with Technology
35. Stay on top of technology but don't be a slave to it
36. Know how to operate the office machines
37. Cell phone etiquette
38. Be careful with emails
39. The impact of the Internet

Section VI: Working with Clients
40. The importance of the attorney-client privilege
41. Do not judge
42. Don't give anyone a blank check on credibility
43. Keep a box of tissue on your desk
44. Not every attorney is for every client
45. Beware of the client who has fired his or her first attorney
46. When gender matters
47. Should you represent family and friends?
48. Make sure you and your client have the same expectations
49. Don't give guarantees
50. Tell your clients they need to follow your advice
51. Be specific
52. When a client or someone else is in jail
53. How to tell whether someone is having an affair and why you should care
54. How to get your client to tell you the truth
55. You may be the only sane person in your client's life
56. Anyone can become crazy
57. How to be involved but not overly involved
58. Make sure your client has the support of friends and family
59. Is the extended family part of the problem or part of the solution?
60. Does your client have a safety plan?

Section VII: Building a Case and Preparing for Trial
61. Make sure you are suing and serving the right party
62. Look at the jury instructions to prepare your case
63. Don't wait for someone to give you information
64. Prepare for depositions
65. Give mediation a try
66. How you know when you have a good settlement
67. Hope for the best but prepare for and expect the worst
68. Your pretrial settlement discussion with your client

Section VIII: Success in the Courtroom
69. Don't throw a fit in court
70. Treat the other attorney's client with respect
71. Find a nice judge you can talk to
72. Research your judge
73. Be extremely careful with ex parte communications
74. Do these things before you ask the judge for a signature
75. How to get your witness ready for court
76. You and your client should dress appropriately for court
77. How to present your case to the judge
78. Tips for picking a jury
79. Cross-examination—you're no Perry Mason
80. Know when to sit down and shut up
81. Make your record for appeal
82. Appeals are a different animal
83. Getting more time in court
84. Have a sincere appreciation for court personnel

Section IX: The New Lawyer at Home
85. Don't cross-examine your spouse or significant other
86. Phone calls on nights, weekends, and holidays
87. Find a creative outlet and a physical outlet
88. Get your affairs in order

Section X: Your Legal Career in the Long Term
89. Keep up with your jurisdiction's latest ethics and appellate decisions
90. Don't let the door hit you
91. Why lawyers get burned out
92. You have the power to predict the future (eventually)
93. Stay humble and stay grateful
94. Do not underestimate the power of addiction
95. It's not the crime—it's the cover-up
96. Does it pass the smell test?
97. You have the ability to change people's perceptions about lawyers
98. Donate your legal skills
99. The importance of defending the independence of the judiciary
100. Care about politics
101. What will people say at your funeral?

Conclusion: Why I love practicing law
About the Author


Excerpt from Section I: Starting Out Right at a Law Firm

Two dogs are chasing a car and one says to the other, "What are you going to do if you catch it?"



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“For graduating law students who haven’t had much exposure to firm culture or have lacked a strong legal mentor, this book is a necessary read.” - The National Juris...

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Format: Paperback

Length: 7 in
Width: 5 in
Weight: 8.80 oz
Page Count: 288 pages


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