Bar News - January 18, 2013
New Lawyer Committee Column: 13 Resolutions for 2013
By: Jason Dennis
I have made many New Year’s resolutions over the past three of four years and I have even met with some success in keeping them – my first novel was published in December! This year, motivated by my participation on the NHBA New Lawyers’ Committee, I share with you an assortment of New Year’s resolutions (in no particular order) that might help make you a better lawyer.
1. Keep in touch with friends and acquaintances from different parts of your life. An old friend might someday serve as or suggest an expert witness or otherwise inspire a brilliant idea.
2. If you want to be a litigator, find every possible (non-frivolous) way to get into court, even if just as a spectator.
3. Read the NH Bar News more thoroughly. The NH Bar News can help you keep up-to-date on case law, events, etc. I have cited cases that I first read about in the Bar News.
4. Develop your own "style." Emulate excellent or upstanding lawyers, but be real, be yourself.
5. Read some seminal NH case law. Spending time with landmark cases can enhance your understanding of how the law has developed in various areas and improve your legal argumentation skills.
6. Keep up with court rules and strive to acquaint yourself with local differences in various courts.
7. Practice empathy. Many, if not most, of the clients and potential clients that venture to our offices are doing so because something bad has happened in their lives. Our job is to secure decisions in our clients’ favor, but our clients are not just a means to an end.
8. Participate in CLEs for more than just the credit. A nugget of information or interpersonal interaction can help your practice.
9. Strive for a balance between civility and zealous advocacy. Don’t let yourself be bullied, but don’t burn bridges, either. This may be a difficult balance to maintain, but remember that New Hampshire has a small bar.
10. Remember that the legal profession is the "practice" of law, and that as attorneys, we "try" cases. You have to thoroughly prepare and strive for excellence in all that you do, but you will never get it perfect.
11. Use email more productively, and save and sort it appropriately;
12. Network more effectively (balance social networking with in-person networking).
13. Actively participate in the bar association. You can both benefit and give back through bar participation.
Jason Dennis is licensed to practice law in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He recently published his first novel, Vivian’s Window. He is a member of the New Lawyers Committee.