I used to have a skewed understanding of what it meant to be a lawyer. I based my knowledge off rerun Law and Order episodes and any clips of Judge Judy I could find. In my mind, law was about putting away the bad guys.
Eventually I figured out there were multiple types of lawyers and firms working on different cases, with different clientele. Still, I neglected to think about what made a successful firm. During my second month as an intern at a real estate law firm, I’ve boiled it down to three simple concepts: the people, places, and things.
First is the people. In life, people are everything. Especially in a law firm, the people are everything. Clients are more than just a name and face. Every individual is a complex web of connections and relationships with others. When we interact with one person, we are interacting with thousands of others in some way. We can leave a positive impression, gain a reputable name, and accumulate a larger following. Clients, employees, and even interns are walking billboards for your firm. Word of mouth is an invaluable, powerful tool. In order for firms to be successful, they must predict the needs and desires of people and do their best at delivering. Making people happy is the topmost priority in any service-based industry.
Places are the most straightforward, since dealing with real estate transactions is the main focus of our firm. Even though real estate lawyers act as a middleman, we play a huge part in finalizing transactions and ensuring clients’ needs are met. People don’t realize the wide-reaching scope of duties a real estate firm has. I witness transactions, refinances, title searches, and other extraneous office tasks that enable the office to run smoothly. Real estate lawyers are invaluable because they see clients as people. They see a single mom with three kids or a newlywed couple hoping to buy a house to make room for a puppy. Lenders see these very same clients as money. They don’t care about the financial hardship or turmoil they cause. They are motivated by monetary means and are not empathetic. Real estate lawyers protect buyers and sellers from financial loss and making sure their transition with their home is as seamless as possible.
The final element is the things. I know every English teacher is judging my use of such a generic and meaningless word. I’m merely channeling Dr. Suess–he would’ve wanted it this way. Regardless, their vagueness should be embraced. These “things” vary within every business, company, nonprofit, firm, and so on. I define things as a combination of ever-changing, specific, miscellaneous tasks or traditions that improve the efficiency of a business and allow for continuous growth and success. At our firm, for example, our marketing tactics, employee TED talks, customer testimonials, and forced lunch Friday are some of our things. The marketing tactics help spread the name Ckezepis Law, PLLC through the greater Charlotte area, while employee TED talks help us stay up to date on recent statute changes. Customer testimonials showcase the validity and quality of our firm, while forced lunch Friday provides a time to enjoy a shared meal and strengthen employee and boss relations.
Most importantly, though, you can’t have the people without the places, or the places without the things. Everything in life is interconnected. Take your work seriously and never disregard the small tasks because the littlest things make the biggest difference.