Back in the 1980’s there was a shampoo commercial that featured two women shopping for new suits. One of them chooses a navy blue suit, her friend is quick to point out her dandruff. The scene cuts to a bottle of shampoo and the announcer says, “Head and Shoulders, because you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Whether it’s dandruff or something more significant like completing a legal brief or deposition transcript, when it comes to business etiquette for legal professionals, making a good first impression - or any impression - is essential to your success.
Working on a legal team is collaborative.
You may have amazing plans for an upcoming long weekend but that doesn’t mean leaving your team high and dry by not delivering your part of a project on-time. When you do so, it undermines your credibility and leaves coworkers wondering if they can trust you. While that may sound a bit extreme, over time your lack of meeting deadlines or showing up on time to meetings can slow down progress and ultimately negatively impact the bottom line. This is especially true for Oklahoma court reporters who need to deliver deposition transcripts on-time, accurately, and as-promised to their clients.
How you look is as important as what you say or deliver.
Make an investment in your business wardrobe. In our blog post Dress for Success, we offer tips for legal teams including leaving the t-shirts and sandals at home and opting instead for business casual attire. For women, this includes skirts and blazers or suits, blouses or dress shirts, dress pants, clean closed toed shoes. For men, dress pants, collared golf-style shirts, dress shirts, blazer, dark socks, and polished dress shoes are recommended. If you can’t afford new, try consignment or second hand shops that offer clothes for professionals.
Do what your mother told you and mind your manners.
My husband and I have been known to excessively thank our servers at restaurants, hold the door for strangers, and give positive reviews of our favorite places. To us, being courteous is second nature but it wasn’t always that way for me. When I was in corporate America, I was known to fly off the handle at coworkers and looking back, I wish I could travel back in time and re-do a few interactions. The same may be true for you as you think about your business etiquette for legal professionals.
Rushing out of the office early to make it to a concert on-time isn’t an excuse for missing a deadline or being short with a coworker or client. Each interaction, whether email, phone, online, or in-person is a professional reflection of you and the firm. Be mindful of how you act.
What you say, how you act, and how you dress are as important as your training, degrees, skills, and experience. The next time you have the urge to be short with a coworker, think about how that reflects back on you. You might change your tone and language and remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.