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How to Build a Reputation that Pays After Law School

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Your reputation is one of your most valuable assets as a lawyer.  It must be protected at all costs.  So, heading into law school I urge you to be vigilant of your reputation.  The friends and colleagues that you make in law school will be your business partners and competitors in the future.  Wouldn’t you like them to think the most of you?  Often times the reputation you develop in law school will follow you throughout your career.  Here are some simple tips for improving and protecting your reputation in law school.

Class time is where you get the most looks.  By this I mean, class is where you get the most exposure.  There aren’t too many organic situations where you’re asked to speak in front of 80 other people, but class time is one of them.  This is your best opportunity to improve your reputation.  So how exactly do you do that?  Simple, prepare for class, know the material, answer questions confidently, and answer questions affirmatively.

Answering questions confidently.  Once you start focusing on how others in your class answer questions, this will certainly become a pet peeve.  Almost exclusively, and without exception, each students answer will begin with, “I was just going to say,” or, “I think,” or, “I’m not sure but.”  Do not be one of these people.  You will gain a lot of respect from your classmates where you answer questions affirmatively and with confidence.  For instance, “the answer is,” or, “the best argument is.”  In order to successfully pull this off you will have to be prepared.  But, it is a powerful tool.  Your classmates will be impressed with your confidence.

Be awfully careful with romantic relationships.  Relationships in law school are difficult—especially if the relationship is with a fellow classmate.  Both you and your partner will likely have demanding schedules and enough stress between the two of you to give even a zebra an ulcer.  So be careful.  If the relationship doesn’t work out quite the way you’d hoped then there may be bad blood.  If there is bad blood, then you can be sure he or she will tell their friends about you.  Now everyone at school knows your snore could drown out a loud movie and you eat with your mouth open.

Dress sharp, look sharp.  This should go unsaid but too often do students show up to school in sweatpants and a sweatshirts.  Law school is a professional environment.  Thus, you should dress accordingly.  There is always potential to land a job in school.  I’ve seen adjunct professors recruit students right out of the classroom—and they sure as heck weren’t wearing sweats.

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