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Building Relationships

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Newsletter #15:  Relationship Building.

Last week I spoke at the 2013 California State Bar Annual Convention in San Jose, California. My topic was the New Attorneys Guide to Competency: How to Ask for Help. I spoke on the California Rules of Professional Conduct 3-110 and failing to act competently.

My main point was that to become more competent, we cannot be afraid to ask for help. And to ask for help from those in the legal community, we must develop those relationships before we seek assistance.

Most articles on relationship building or “networking” focus on building clients as potential customers that will buy your services. This is a good aim, but another aim is to develop a network of people that you can call on when you are in a jam. These are not sources that will do your work for you, but are people you can ask a question when you are stuck.

As a solo practitioner there is no one in the office to ask for help on a legal question. The enemy of the solo is “time” as there is only so much time in a day and anything that saves time will translate to more time that can be devoted to revenue generating activities.

Practice Pointer: Devote time to developing your legal IQ at your local bar association function.


Many attorneys choose not to attend bar association functions in their area. While the topic of the particular meeting may not be engaging, the real benefit to the attender is getting to know the people that you meet at the gathering.


Recently I sat at a lunchtime Riverside County Bar Association gathering. The presentation was on VA Benefits. This was not a bankruptcy seminar, but I attended since the bankruptcy cases that I do are more geared to the elderly, so I want to be exposed to this information.


Across the table from me sat a newer lawyer to the group. We talked for a few minutes. I asked him “How can I help you?” He asked me if I knew a local expert on a family law issue? I am a bankruptcy lawyer and I do not do family law. However, I have an attorney friend that does family law and I connected him with my friend. The new lawyer received the information he needed.

Had he not asked for a referral he would not have received the answer he sought.

 Practice Pointer:

How can I help you? This is a great question to ask someone at a local bar association meeting. You may or may not be able to help, but maybe you can point the person in the right direction. The benefit is that the person may ask you “how can he help you?”

This opportunity allows you to increase your legal IQ and perhaps develop a relationship for more exchanges down the road.

To increase your Bankruptcy IQ, go to Bankruptcy seminars and ask those around you for their suggestions. This advice will save you time in research, will increase your knowledge, and will free up your time to generate more income.


The master of relationship building is Keith Ferrazzi who wrote “Never Eat Alone”. Check out his recent Blog Post on networking and how to make deeper connections:


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