Supervising Other Lawyers: The Essentials

By | Apr.05.12 | Daily Dispatch, Learning, People Management, Professional Development

Most lawyers eventually supervise other lawyers. How you handle this new responsibility can make all the difference in the quality of work you get. What’s more, your skill at supervising others will impact relationships with lawyers you work with your whole life. Here are some tips on doing it well, from the start.

1. Critique effectiveness, not style. It’s fair to insist on consistency in forms and procedures, but remember that when it comes to writing, your particular style may not be the only style that works. When you review a younger lawyer’s work, be objective about whether a style different than your own may be just as effective as yours.

2. Give helpful feedback on every project, good or bad. A good supervisor is a teacher, and good teachers give praise as well as criticism. Those working for you need to know what they’ve done well so they can do it again. If they’ve done something wrong, they need to know why it was wrong and how to fix it.

3. Let everyone in on the big picture. Young lawyers need to be able to understand the context of their work. It will help them learn about case strategy. More important, it will help them understand what you want so they can deliver it. Giving a research or drafting project in the abstract will always lead to disappointment on both sides.

4. Be alert to the strengths and weaknesses of those who work for and with you. Play to the strengths of those you supervise and avoid their weaknesses. It’s good for the client and good for your team.

Finally, remember that a good leader works harder, sleeps less and worries more than those he or she leads. Caesar worked in his tent while the legions slept.

Richard Hunt is a board certified business litigator with more than 30 years of experience trying a wide variety of cases. He serves as a member of the examination committee of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and manages litigation CLE for his firm, Munsch Hardt Kopf  & Harr P.C., as well as teaching individual courses in trial strategy and case management. 

Illustration © ImageZoo.

 More Tips for Playing Well With Others
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