Recently, Stephanie West Allen asked me if there is one book I'd recommend for new lawyers that she might include in the regular column, Reading Minds, she edits for the American Bar Association. My recommendation, along with two others, can be read in the latest issue of the ABA's Law Practice Magazine.
I recommend The Trusted Advisor.
The theme of The Trusted Advisor (Free Press, 2000) is that the key to professional success is not just technical mastery of one’s discipline, but also the ability to work with clients in a way that earns their trust and gains their confidence. This book is a seminal treatise on the subject of trust.
Most, if not all, young lawyers starting out as new associates in established firms want to get ahead as fast as they can. Freshly minted from a competitive law school environment, they typically think being the best lawyer is all about mastering the law. Authors David Maister, Charles H. Green and Robert M. Galford write this:
“Then comes that crucial career transition, from technician to full professional, from content expert to advisor. As technicians, our task is to provide information, analyses, research, content and even recommendations. All of these are basically tasks performed out of the client’s presence. In contrast, our task as advisors is an ‘in-person,’ ‘in-contact’ challenge to help the client see things anew or to make a decision. This requires a complete change of skills and mind-sets.”Lawyers who make this career transition, achieving the status of trusted advisor, know the meaning of true professionalism and, unlike so many of their colleagues, really enjoy the practice of law. For young lawyers starting out, there’s no book I’d recommend more highly than this one.