Attorney Sidebar: Ten Essentials Important in Your Practice of Law

~ Ben L. Kessinger, Jr.

There are ten essentials that I think are very important in your practice of law.  First, keep current with your expertise. If you’re an expert tax lawyer, be sure that you understand the most recent tax law. Second, watch out for malpractice. If you procrastinate is you let the statute of limitations run on you or you don’t document your activities, you are vulnerable to a malpractice lawsuit keep track of your appointments and the date your pleadings are due. Third, find someone to be your mentor in the first years of practice. After that, you should be a mentor to some younger lawyer. Fourth, have fun in the practice of law. If you let the practice of law interfere with your personal happiness, find another job. Get involved in Bar Association activities where you enjoy the association with other lawyers.

Fifth, be a likable lawyer. A lot of clients want you to be a mean lawyer and you can’t be a mean lawyer. Civility in the practice of law is very important. And when you get decisions that are against you, then don’t blame the judge. You can tell your client, “Maybe we can appeal the case and get a different decision.” Sixth, ethical conduct is a high priority.

Seventh, I would say is priority of communications. With your clients, return phone or other messages. You’ve got to be responsive to other people. Eighth, the economics of your practice cannot be ignored. You must have able secretaries, staff members, and partners who are well-compensated. . . .

Ninth, brevity is a must. Lawyers need to train themselves to be brief and concise in their writings. Judges don’t have time to read long briefs. Last, in trial practice, start out trying to find out what the law is when you first get the case. Find out what the jury instructions would be when they get the case. Prepare yourself day-to-day to get that case ready for trial and have confidence in what you’re doing.

~Ben L Kessinger, Jr.

Kentucky Lawyers Speak, page 224-25.