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. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues