Attorneys in Transition: Fake it until you make it

Nick Augustine is the principal of Chicago’s Augustine Legal Public Relations and he works for the Bryan Law Group, a full service boutique family practice in DuPage County. Nick teaches law firms and their staff how to get more clients as he helps attorneys share their knowledge, skills and abilities. Nick earned a communications and rhetorical studies degree from Marquette University and a law degree from The John Marshall Law School where he is an active Alumni Board member.

Assume a psychological phenomenon: Everybody around you is more successful, has a nicer suit, a better window view and a parking spot in a downtown garage. Now, consider reality: Most of the others assume you are the one doing well. Reality: You could both be doing equally well or miserable.

Fake it until you make it and allow others to perceive you as successful.

Perception is reality in the business of law. “Successful” law firms and lawyers project an image of success so members of their community hold them in high regard. It makes sense. I would not want to hire the sloppy lawyer who looks like s/he just came from their second job bagging groceries.

Here are some tips on not blowing your cover if you are still “making it” or just getting started:

  1. Always appear dressed as you just came from court. People will assume you are doing well and working. People are not likely going to ask why you are dressed for business. If someone does ask, a safe answer is “… had a meeting.”
  2. Never talk about money. It is always distasteful to talk about the amount you (want to) earn at work. Most young attorneys are close in pay-range so bringing up wages only makes you appear conceited or self-conscious.
  3. Do not complain about student loans. Most of your colleagues have loans and the only people who complain most are the ones who can barely eat because their budgets cannot afford the loan repayment. Why draw attention to your financial stress?
  4. Talk about interesting matters on which you are involved. Young lawyers share stories to compare their work experience with others. If you show interest in appellate work, for example, a friend could remember that and a referral could come your way.
  5. Believe that you deserve all the best. A lawyer’s career will likely continue through economic swings. Remember that there is always work for quality lawyers. Appreciate the qualities that make you a good lawyer and allow yourself to believe in your knowledge skills and abilities.

If perception is reality, then make sure others perceive you as a successful lawyer they know, like and trust. People talk. They know whose going to make it. Will it be you?

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