New lawyers should be on the lookout for ways to shed the somewhat stigmatic adjective “new.” When fellow lawyers and clients believe you are inexperienced, they have less confidence in your work product, and are less likely to give you the responsibilities you deserve. To help combat this stigma, new lawyers should be prowling for publishing opportunities.
Publishing bestows on the author an automatic aura of expertise (no matter how well deserved). Readers believe that if you have written on a topic, you were probably hand selected because of your knowledge, and you must have spent countless hours researching and drafting the article. This makes you an authority, and readers will remember the article the next time they have a question on the subject. Ideally, they will call you, thereby expanding your network of colleagues and business referrals.
You shouldn’t wait for publishing opportunities to just fall in your lap. You must be proactively looking for chances to write. You can submit editorials to newspapers, write for law journals (including the University of Baltimore Law Review and the University of Maryland Law Review), contact local bar associations to see if they need articles for their newsletters, or check with the state bar association to find out if they need help with their journals. If you are plaintiffs’ attorney, you can publish with plaintiffs’ bar associations, the American Association for Justice (on the national level) and the Maryland Association for Justice (on the state level). There are probably equivalent opportunities on the defense side (I wouldn’t know—I’m not allowed at their super-secret meetings). Of course, check with the Maryland Daily Record.
But, what should you write about?
Inspiration is all around you—take your most recent well-researched motion or opposition, and turn it into a thorough analysis of current law; read lawyerly blogs (including this one) and give your analysis where you have something meaningful to contribute; or just think of something you’ve always wanted to know about and start researching. When in doubt, just ask the publication you are writing for if they need anything in particular.
Be sure to save copies of all of your articles, and add them to your résumé as they are published (this will be hard to recreate if you don’t keep up with it). Attach links to the articles on your Web site, so people researching the subject can find their way to you, and possibly send you business or give you speaking opportunities (another way to secure referrals). It also has the added advantage of making you look more professional and experienced to potential clients who check out your Web site—making them more comfortable with having you on the case.