Mona M. Stone, a partner at Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell who serves on the Chicago hiring committee and is co-chair of the diversity committee, has written a book aimed at providing career guidance to those considering a law career, law school students and young attorneys.
“Future Performance: Your Guide to a Successful Career in Law” (Aspatore, $40) offers tips on how to succeed in today’s highly competitive legal market, presents real-life examples of what young attorneys can expect on the road to partnership, and includes advice on how to become skilled practitioners.
She took some time to answer a few of our questions:
What made you decide to write the book?
I wish there was a guide like this when I was a junior attorney! Also, my father is a university professor, so I think I must have inherited an “instructing gene” from him. I enjoy speaking to law students and young attorneys and have been a frequent speaker at law schools and panel discussions focusing on the career development of attorneys. Over time, I began to notice that different people were asking the same questions, so I realized that there was a need for a user-friendly guide on managing law school, interviewing for and landing a dream job and successfully navigating a legal career. I have published chapters on substantive legal topics before and decided that writing this book was a worthwhile way to help future generations of lawyers.
How long did it take you to write it, and what was your writing process?
The writing process took over one year. My book is based on numerous interviews that I conducted over the last several months with attorneys at all career levels and types/sizes of organizations. I wanted to give readers an honest, in-depth insight into life as an attorney from multiple viewpoints, including the positive and not so glamorous aspects of practicing law.
Sometimes I wrote dozens of pages at a time, but, admittedly, there were days where I was either too busy or suffered from writer’s block and needed to step away from the project before returning to it with fresh eyes. I also lend my unique perspective of being a minority female who has served as in-house counsel, worked at a boutique firm and is a partner at a large, national law firm and serving on the Chicago hiring committee and as co-chair of [the firm’s] national diversity committee.
Who do you hope benefits from the book?
“Future Performance: Your Guide To a Successful Career in Law” is targeted towards people contemplating a legal career, law students and young lawyers. My book concentrates on giving practical tips for success to associates at small, medium and large law firms. I also include sections on government positions and in-house counsel jobs. I direct my recommendations at people who aim for success and want to learn how to improve chances for success at work, solicit and obtain top work assignments, develop essential self-promotion skills and impress senior attorneys.
What is the biggest lesson they can learn from reading the book?
One of the most valuable lessons readers will learn from my book is to devote time to career management and, if necessary, treat it like a billable assignment that requires the utmost care and attention. Simply doing good work, particularly during frugal economic times, may not be enough to distinguish oneself in a competitive market. Readers will learn what steps to take to become indispensable attorneys, to develop effective time management skills and to control the political aspects of a legal career.
What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?
Deciding when to stop writing. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to practicing law or building a successful career, so it is hard to cover all the qualities that make a superstar attorney. I tried to share the most notable best practices that will help people excel as lawyers and promote our profession.