Your reading list changes a little when you leave law school and pass the bar. Rather than diving into citation guides, dictionaries, and casebooks, you’ll want to explore material that gives you a competitive edge. In today’s day and age, that means diving into books aimed at being a professional in the digital age.
Being a lawyer today is much different than it was years ago. From filing court papers through online portals to attending Zoom hearings, technology has changed the landscape. As an up-and-coming attorney, you need to understand how to make everything work in your favor. After all, even if you’re hired as an associate today, you may be a partner or solo practitioner relatively soon.
The following types of books will help you expand your personal library and prepare yourself for a successful future.
1. Books on digital marketing.
You went to law school to be a lawyer. Nevertheless, you’ll be better off if you learn the keys to savvy digital marketing, too. Here’s why: Though personal referrals are important, you’ll probably get a lot of first consultations through online advertising. Plus, you may be asked by your employer to write content for the firm’s blog. Having even a baseline knowledge of digital marketing will make you a more qualified employee.
What types of books should you choose first? Selecting one on law firm SEO is non-negotiable. SEO has evolved over the past few years and is continuing to evolve due to search engine algorithm updates. If you’re not staying ahead of the curve, you’re destined to get behind it very quickly. Another topic you’ll want to study is PPC advertising. PPC can go hand-in-hand with SEO to drive people into your firm.
Having control over even a tiny piece of your firm’s lead generation machine can increase your credibility and value. And if you ever decide to hang your own shingle, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.
2. Books on self-promotion.
Not every lawyer is a natural rainmaker. It can be hard to know how to sell yourself at events. Yet self-promotion is an essential and valuable skill. Being able to spin a memorable elevator speech or keep a discussion going is an art form. Fortunately, it’s also something you can learn with practice.
The next time you’re at a physical bookstore or surfing through books online, look for ones related to networking. For instance, you might pick up a book on influencing others through your speech and mannerisms. Or you could look for a workbook on becoming a more confident public speaker and conversationalist.
Don’t be afraid to head to some of the “oldies but goodies”. When in doubt, pick up something by Dale Carnegie. You’ll find great nuggets in Carnegie’s writings even though many are more than a half-century old.
Social media is still misunderstood among many professionals, including lawyers. Plenty of people who use social media personally aren’t sure how to make it work occupationally. What usually ends up happening is that they write a few posts and give up in exasperation. Their pages go dark—and that’s the end of their chance to leverage social media. (Compliantly, of course.)
Of course, some lawyers have figured out how to lean into social media to drive branding and visibility. Thankfully, some of them are eager to share what they’ve learned in book form. For example, you could start your journey with a work devoted to LinkedIn mastery. LinkedIn is a terrific channel for showcasing your expertise as well as connecting with other lawyers and referral sources.
Make no mistake: Clients like to vet their lawyers online. In addition to checking out reviews, they’re quick to scan social pages. If you’re not sure what to write about, invest in a book on social content development ideas. You might want to pick up a blank notepad, too. Keep the notebook handy to jot down brainstorms regarding future social media posts, videos, and tweets.
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4. Books on starting a business.
A lot of young lawyers in private practice consider founding their own firms. Although launching a law practice involves unique considerations and regulations, it’s not entirely different from launching another kind of startup. With this in mind, start populating your home bookshelf with entrepreneur tips.
Look for books from serial entrepreneurs inside and outside of the field of law. Ideally, the books you choose should talk transparently about both wins and failures. As you might imagine, you can learn a lot more from “misses” than you can from “hits”.
Thinking it might be easier to listen to audiobooks on your commute or during your exercise? Select ones available from founders who have built and exited multiple companies. Again, not everything they say will be relevant to your goals. However, they’ll be likely to spark at least some “Aha!” moments for you. That’ll be particularly useful if you follow your dreams of setting up shop alone.
No matter what type of law you intend to practice or where you’re going to practice it, keep reading. Books can be your gateway into more confidence and acumen. Who knows? They might even inspire you to write a book one day to complete the circle of learning.