DTCI: Invest in yourself to build practice and reputation

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kalamaros-dtciOften, I am asked by younger lawyers what they can do to advance themselves in the profession, both in their firms and in the marketplace. I tell them that – first of all – merely aging will not get them ahead. Nor will performing merely adequate work.

We have all noticed that there are a lot of lawyers. On top of that, there are a lot of lawyers with less work than they would like. Lawyering is a business and is controlled by traditional rules of commerce: supply, demand, pricing, quality, branding. Lawyers are the product. They are the brand.

So, even if you are in a firm, and you have work and you do a good job, that may not be enough. It may be the professional equivalent of treading water. If you want to advance, you have to do more. You have to invest in yourself.

This means recognizing that you yourself are the most important factor in advancing your career, and that you yourself have to take action. It is hard, and it is not free (in terms of money or time), but it is worth it in the long run.

How do you invest in yourself?

Read. Read about things related to work. Read the cases, read the rules. Read the advance sheets. Set your legal research filter and run a search every week. Read the daily email from Indiana Lawyer, both the reported cases and the not-for-publication. Don’t just read the articles, read the cases. Don’t just read the opinion, read who the lawyers are and where they practice. Read who the judges at the trial court level are and remember how they decide. Read who the appellate judges are and how they decide. Read the newspaper. Read professional magazines, apps and websites. Read the rest of Indiana Lawyer. Read Res Gestae, Trial, For the Defense, ABA Journal. Read law reviews. Read treatises in your discipline. Read the CLE materials; don’t just put them on the shelf.

Get admitted. Get admitted to federal District courts. Get admitted to federal circuits. Get admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Get admitted before administrative boards. Be ready to go where the work is.

Join. Join at least one county bar association. Pick the county in which you most frequently practice. Join professional organizations – one at the state level and one at the national. Look for discounts for younger lawyers and combined memberships between state and national organizations. Also consider joining nonlawyer organizations as a source of work through connections and for name recognition in your markets.

Participate. After you have joined these organizations, participate. Get to know other members. Go to events. Get on a committee or two. Become an officer. Write an article. Speak. Attend, speak, and write with Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum.

Be efficient. Be smart. Yes, this all takes time and money. Often, time is harder to set aside. It takes time away from your work on cases. It takes time away from your Internet surfing, it takes time away from your free time. It may even take time away from family. So set your priorities. That is part of the investment. By the same token, be smart about your efforts. Try to integrate this investment into the rest of your life. Read the legal material instead of John Grisham at the beach. Take a vacation that coincides with a convention or a CLE at a resort suitable for your family. Get your CLE where you can network. Speaking at a CLE event may get you free admission for the rest of the program. Be efficient.

Spending time and money to cultivate yourself into a quality product is the most highly personal investment you can make. You are the product. You are the brand. No one should be more concerned about developing the quality of that product than you. No one should be more concerned about developing your brand than you. Invest in yourself. Make yourself more valuable. You will see the return on investment.•


Mr. Kalamaros is a partner in Hunt Suedhoff Kalamaros and is a member of the DTCI board of directors. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.


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  1. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.