J. Nick Augustine, J.D., is the principal of Pro Serve PR Marketing, a firm that creates and manages a focused image of success through marketing and publicity strategies for law, finance and small business professionals. Nick enjoys sharing career growth, strategy and experience with legal job seekers and attorneys in transition. The Pro Serve Club is a members only PR Marketing resource.
Early in law school we meet the representatives from several legal vendors who offer publications full of articles and resources. Often we flip through the magazines, sometimes flagging articles we want to read later, and then we add them to the pile that eventually is stored or tossed. If we collect and organize interesting articles we can start building a personalized law library. List and subdivide the headlines by topic area, and keep track of niche topics.
Imagine being a 3L working at an insurance defense firm, and working on a case with compelling e-discovery issues. While grasping the nuances of defense work, an interesting topic arises – the discoverability of social media groups and its intersection with spoliation exposure! When we see articles we like, we read them intently. Once we realize that we are more interested in the underlying issues than our main practice area, we make a mental note and hopefully continue learning specialized information.
Specialized focus areas and topics in law are the basis for lectures, articles and referrals. We value the lawyers who are well-read and knowledgeable about pinpoint legal issues and the leading theories and cases.
First, search for publications that feature topics and content supporting your special topic. Read and then remove the articles you like and collect them in file folders or binders. When you have enough articles, organize them and create a table of contents. As the library grows, there will be a natural desire to seek out missing information and add more articles – you’re becoming more valuable.
Next, make a list of the authors of articles you read and visit their websites. Make notes, if possible, about the groups and publications the authors list. If appropriate, send and e-mail or make a phone call to the author and compliment their work. When recognizing another lawyer with common interests, the author you read might spot case referral or collaboration opportunities – you’re part of club.
Then, as the library and specialized practitioner lists grow, consider writing articles or assembling Continuing Legal Education manuals and programs. So long as courts address and rule on issues in the focus area, the body of legal knowledge continues growing. At some point most of us become comfortable enough to write a book; e-books and printed copies are easily leveraged to attract new sources of revenue and opportunity – you retire and live on sales from your book!