law firm leadershipWaiting until you want to be a leader to prepare for a leadership role hampers your chances of actually gaining positions of influence. Just as you prepare your cases, you must prepare for law firm leadership. Here are 3 ways to win the respect of senior lawyers and ensure your rise to leadership.

1. Take initiative.

Initiative is critical to leadership. Choose your work — don’t let it choose you. During your associate years, forge relationships with partners who can give you the kind of work you like doing…work that will deepen your experience in a specialty from which you can develop a niche. Your influence will grow as you gain more and more expertise in an area of the law that is lucrative for the firm and grows the firm’s breadth of services to clients.

2. Find a good connector and champion.

It is essential to have partners inside the firm who will be your champions and who already have connections with those in leadership. Don’t wait until you are a senior associate to think about relationship-building with multiple power brokers. You need allies who will go to bat for you at critical times. Having said that, you increase your chances of making partner and gaining the respect of decision-makers if you make it your priority to be totally reliable and deliver excellent legal work to the partners who depend on you.

3. Stay on top of your professional development.

Be interested and invested in your work. Take advantage of seminars that not only give you CLE credit, but widen your base of knowledge in your desired specialty. The enthusiasm and dedication you bring to continuous self-improvement impresses your partners and convinces them you are leadership material.

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