More Tips for OneLs
August 21, 2006 at 10:00 AM
Professor Vikram Amar has some interesting tips for first-years in his FindLaw column this week. He makes his most insightful point here:
After law school, almost every lawyer serves clients and customers. A lawyer’s clients or customers may include individuals, businesses, government agencies and judges, in-house counsel, or (quite often) other lawyers, such as partners, within a practice group. Successful attorneys develop an effective customer-service mindset; the best lawyers are the ones whose clients or customers walk away the most satisfied.
Although perhaps it is not apparent, law students have clients and customers too - most particularly, we law professors, who are offered the students’ work products in the form of exams, papers and so on. Just as each customer or client in the real world may be looking for slightly different things, so too we law professors might not all react to or consume the same work product in the same way. Being able to quickly figure out what your client or customer is looking for, and to vary your style and approach accordingly, is the kind of skill the real world values, and the kind that should be developed from the beginning of law school.
As a former practicing attorney, I think it’s never too early for students to start thinking about practice management issues like customer service and marketing. And Professor Amar makes a great point when he notes that, in a way, law professors are like the clients and partners that you will have to learn to please later on when you’re practicing law. Like clients and partners, law professors all have distinctive pet peeves and preferences (I remember one supervising partner who freaked out each time an associate used "i.e." when he or she really should have used "e.g."). It’s a good idea to find out about these predilections before you take the exam or turn in your final paper. I know a lot of law students find it a bit maddening that law professors can take such different approaches to evaluating student work. But a good portion of your professional life will be spent trying to tailor your work product to your clients, so it’s best to develop a strategy for coping with these idiosyncrasies now.