15 Things Legal Professionals Have Learned in 15 Years

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Group of people walking with flag advertising Clio's 15-year anniversary

In business years, 15 years can feel like a lifetime—especially since only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more.

Those that succeed do so with a tremendous amount of effort and support. This year at Clio, we’re celebrating our 15th anniversary—largely thanks to the amazing customers who use Clio every day.

These customers have had incredible experiences and learned important lessons throughout their legal careers, and we wanted to celebrate that. Ahead of our 15 year anniversary, we asked lawyers and legal professionals to share the most valuable lesson they’ve learned over the past 15 years. While we originally set out to highlight 15 lessons, our customers had so much wisdom to share that we added a bonus one!

Here’s what they had to say:

Trust your instincts

Loraine DiSalvo, Morgan & DiSalvo, P.C.

“If a client balks at your fee or at your retainer, they won’t pay you anyhow, and it’s best to let them walk out the door without hiring you.”

Kirsten Hume Scrimshaw, ALLY Workplace Law

“The longer I practice, the more my advice turns on my assessment of the parties’ personalities and motivations. Sure, the law is still important, but people often don’t act rationally, and identifying common patterns helps me find solutions for my clients.”

Choose your battles wisely

Inti Martínez-Alemán, Ceiba Fôrte Law Firm, 2020 Reisman Award Winner, Excellence in Client Service

“Know which battles to fight and which ones to let go of. A good lawyer doesn’t have to fight every single battle to prove that they’re a formidable advocate. A discerning lawyer understands which issues matter most to protect a client’s interests. Don’t lose sleep over things that appear critically important but, at the end of the day, are trivial.”

Know your role in each situation

Bobbie Wallace, LaMont Law

“About 10 years ago, I was working on a case with a very difficult client. While working on responding to a discovery request, I groused to a co-worker about what bad karma I must have projected into the universe that now I had to deal with the client’s idiosyncrasies and what was I supposed to do with this? Her simple response has stuck with me to this day: “Maybe you’re not the student in this lesson. Maybe you’re the teacher.” Her words totally changed my attitude about the way to handle difficult people and have made an immense difference in my life, both personally and professionally.”

Be intentional

Michelle Limbaugh, The Limbaugh Law Firm
  1. Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
  2. “Just because you can” does not mean that you should.
  3. Do not make decisions based on fear.
  4. Be intentional.
  5. Remember that a crisis is self-defined.

Never stop learning

Jonathan G. Stein, Law Offices of Jonathan G. Stein

“Professionally, I have learned that there is so much I still don’t know about the practice of law!”

Michael Huddle, Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC

“Never stop learning and streamlining. Minimize distractions and excess.”

Mazyar M. Hedayat, M. Hedayat & Associates, P.C.

“I began this journey with preconceptions about the profession and practitioners. I was wrong. Turns out, being an effective lawyer is not about logic so much as experience. So, the more seasoned I become, the better I am at my job. The law, and the practice, is always evolving. Evolve with it, or be left behind”

Stay open to new opportunities

Jordan Couch, Palace Law

“I’ve learned to travel through life like a leaf on the wind. Ten years ago I was preparing to graduate high school. I was going to go to college, then some east coast law school, and work for a big firm in DC doing mergers and acquisitions. Only one of those things ended up being true (I went to the planned college) and I couldn’t be happier or in a better position professionally or personally. At times over the last 10 years I tried hard to focus on my plan, [but] it always failed. But when I opened myself up, wonderful opportunities came to me. Now, my law school was in a state I had tried hard to avoid, my firm is small, I’m on the opposite coast, I’m heavily involved in organizations I love, and my practice area is one I didn’t even know existed when I graduated law school. By abandoning my plans, I found my passion and, more importantly, an environment that encourages me to pursue it relentlessly.”

Invest in strong systems

Jodi Donato, Donato Law, 2020 Reisman Award Winner, Best Growth Story

“On office management, have systems and procedures in place so if an employee quits, someone else can step in and do the job with minimal training.”

Lead with kindness

Todd Ver Weire, The Law Office of W. Todd Ver Weire

“Even with the advances in technology and communication, never forget that a small human touch, whether it be an actual call instead of a text, or a handwritten note instead of an email, goes a long way. Also, sometimes it is worth it to just drop in and say hi to the court staff where you appear regularly. While this is admittedly easier in some jurisdictions than others, it never hurts to be friendly and take a genuine interest in them and their lives.”

Lizzy Sailor, Chartier & Nyamfukudza, P.L.C., 2022 Reisman Award Winner, Legal Impact Award

“Be kind to everyone you meet. It doesn’t hurt anyone to be kind to them, but it can hurt if you aren’t.”

Use bills to communicate clearly

Jodi Donato, Donato Law, 2020 Reisman Award Winner, Best Growth Story

“If you bill by the hour and give the client a break, show the full cost of your work and discount it on the bill so they see that you did four hours of work but only charged them for three.”

Prioritize your team

Katie Brennan, Marquez Law

“I have worked in family law for over 10 years. A “jack-of-all-trades” as some might say, I have carved my path as an administrator, technical support, web developer, HR, marketing, office manager, and COO. Throughout this time, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and wonderful people I have ever met, including colleagues and clients. There have been many life-long lessons learned along the way, but the core of what sticks with me is to stay focused on your people.

I have experienced the cost of turnover first hand. The toll it takes on the business, your clients, your colleagues, and yourself. It is the responsibility of us as leaders and legal professionals, to prioritize our teams by leading with compassion, open communication, and provide the tools to set everyone up for success so we are all energized to deliver our best for our clients, our families, and ourselves.”

Set yourself up for success

Keith Arrowsmith, Counterculture LLP

“Over the last 15 years, I’ve learned the importance of having a bedrock of reliable systems, working with classy colleagues, and turning down wonky work that doesn’t fit. Those three things give me the time and energy to efficiently work on enjoyable projects for appreciative clients.”

Serve the greater good

James Creedon, Creedon PLLC, 2022 Reisman Award Winner, Community Champion

“The most important thing I’ve learned is that lawyers shape the future—we can build a healthy and equitable world in which the law shapes the greater good.”

Juston Osborn, Osborn Gambale Beckley & Budd PLLC

“Justice doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s the product of time, personal investment, persistence, and, oftentimes, luck. Though we don’t always achieve it, when the pursuit of justice is our goal, our legal practices, lives, and communities are better off for it.”

Eager for more insights? Sign up for The Law Community – by Clio to ask questions, learn from your peers, and stay up-to-date on everything Clio.  

Categorized in: Clio, Uncategorized

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