One of our most popular blogs to date was an interview with Gen Why lawyer Nicole Abboud about how Generation Y relates to legal technology. Nicole has gone on to write about everything from what drives young lawyers to the importance of amplifying our strengths rather than improving our weaknesses.
We wanted to know more. So, we sat down with her (virtually, of course) to talk about perceptions of lawyers, mentorship, and being more than your law degree.
Ana: What about the day-to-day life of a lawyer is most misleading, based on how lawyers are portrayed in movies and TV shows?
Nicole: I think the most misleading part is the speed at which matters are resolved. On TV, you can go from initiating a case to gathering discovery, deposing parties, negotiating a settlement or going to trial all within a day or two. It’s nuts and highly unrealistic. It also distorts clients’ perceptions of how quickly their matters will be resolved. Then again, no one wants to watch an 8-month long episode of Law & Order.
Ana: Do you think running a solo practice is similar to or different from running a startup?
Nicole: There are definitely a lot of similarities between starting your own practice and running a start-up, the obvious being that both involve a great amount of risk and the potential for a great amount of rewards.
As a young lawyer opening your own practice, you must adopt a lean startup mentality, where you keep your overhead expenses to a minimum and get creative in the way you deliver your legal services. Similar to running a startup, as a new solo practitioner, you will be bootstrapping everything from the accounting, to the client intake and management, to the administrative and the legal practice.
Another great similarity between running your solo practice and a startup is that you have the flexibility and freedom to shape your business the way you want. By that, I mean you have the ability to ask yourself “What will best serve my clients?” and then tailor your practice to serve those specific needs.
Ana: What do you wish that legal mentors knew or did more of?
Nicole: I wish law mentors realized how important of a role they play and how much good they can do. Every new lawyer needs a mentor, although most don’t realize it. The right mentor will act as an advisor, confidante, coach, and cheerleader.
What I hope to see more mentors doing is investing time in nurturing younger lawyers and showing a genuine interest in their success. After all, if you have the chance to help shape and guide the next amazing legal leader, why wouldn’t you jump at that opportunity? With that said, I think as young lawyers and mentees, we need to be just as proactive in reaching out to our mentors and building beneficial relationships.
Ana: The hardest thing about being a lawyer is…
Nicole: Realizing that being a lawyer is just a fragment of who we are. It’s our profession; our job title. It does not encompass all of our goals and does not reflect all of our characteristics, strengths, and talents. All too often, we, as lawyers, become consumed by our jobs and fail to realize that being a lawyer is merely one part of what makes us who we are. [And, as Ian’s answer to this question suggests, society may help us along on that path.]
To that end, I suggest spending time exploring your interests outside the law. Being a well-rounded human being helps in dealing with these difficult aspects of being a lawyer.
Ana: You made a holiday gift guide for lawyers. What would you most appreciate getting as a gift?
Nicole: I would most appreciate a good calendar/planner or a hefty Starbucks gift card. I run on organization and coffee.
What else do you want to know about Nicole? Comment below with your questions!