Episode 1: When I Was Young
With a team of four seasoned personal injury attorneys at Zinda Law Group, this first episode provides real insight into how each one of these legal minds lost their training wheels to become confident, successful and effective lawyers. New attorneys can listen to this plethora of legal wisdom and breathe a sigh of relief in hearing that a legal passion plus a thirst for fresh legal knowledge is a recipe for professional success.
On today’s podcast:
• Introduction to Zinda Law Group Attorneys, Joseph Caputo, Christina Hagen and Neil Solomon
• Do nerves ever end as a new attorney?
• Advice for their younger selves as new lawyers
• Worst mistakes new attorneys make
• Law firm’s responsibility to help new attorneys’ get better vs new attorneys’ responsibility to get better
• How to manage stress in a stressful profession
When asked at one point did they feel comfortable as a litigator, the attorneys had the following to say.
Senior Attorney, Neil Solomon, who handles severe and catastrophic injury cases at the firm, says when he started fresh out of law school he had no idea what was up from what was down. But, after 5 years of experiencing and learning, he found his legal ‘groove’.
On the other hand, Christina Hagen, an attorney with a focus on wrongful death cases, found that for her it was less about the years of practice but more about the ‘types of experiences’ she was exposed to that helped diminish her stress as a novice.
When asked if the nerves ever really disappear, Partner and Attorney, Joe Caputo advises that “the minute we stop feeling the nerves and the pressure, we’ve got to get into a different business.” It’s important to recognize that there is a lot on the line, and to constantly be pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Legal passions and skills
Looking back on their time as newly licensed litigators, each attorney gives a piece of advice to their former selves.
“Don’t be hard on yourself, and understand you don’t have to know everything right away,” Chrissy shares.
Neil, who practiced law for years with respected defense firms in Texas before becoming a plaintiff’s attorney, suggests “trying to figure out what you’re passionate about, and what you want to do in your legal career.”
They discuss the faux pas that many young lawyers make in chasing money rather than their legal passion. They advise that it is the wrong way around and leads lawyers to be married to an area of law that in the end may not be satisfactory.
“Figure out what you love, and the money will follow”, Jack Zinda wisely advises.
In a similar vein, Joe, who was trained to be a ‘balls to walls’, aggressive type of lawyer, says he would have told himself to find his own style.
“Be yourself. Find out what your style is and mold what you are learning to your style,” Joe shares from personal experience.
Altogether, the key message for new attorneys is to find a passion, stay updated on the law and ‘sharpen your tools’ by taking advantage of all opportunities available from conferences to mentorships.
Learn from your mistakes
A common mistake that new attorneys often make is being over-aggressive or over the top. “Our practice is still based in relationships”, advises Neil, “whether it be opposing counsel, the judge and their staff, or the adjustor, building those relationships can generally work out in your favor and your client’s favor rather than being aggressive.”
As a new litigator, if you’re ever worried about making a big mistake, the best advice Joe has is to “learn the rules and learn the laws because that is your safety net.”
Work hard, play hard
Finally, with some important words of caution, the team address how the high levels of stress inherent to the legal profession can be a killer, cause addiction and overwhelm lives.
However, to combat this, they advise that being organized is one of the key tools for lawyers to stay on top and in control of the many competing demands.
And, lastly, the resounding message to new attorneys from the Zinda Law Group team, is to get the work-life balance right. This is a profession that demands hard work, but survival for attorneys requires them to work hard but play harder.
ABOUT THE EFFECTIVE LAWYER
The Effective Lawyer teaches ambitious trial lawyers how to grow their skills and create a prosperous law firm. Using lessons learned by accomplished attorneys from around the country, we discuss lessons learned through their trials and tribulations. Our discussions cover a vast range of topics sought out by attorneys looking for advice, from depositions to how to market your law firm. In each show we cover a new topic that an ambitious attorney would want to better understand, while providing practical skills to improve their legal practice.
The show is hosted by Jack Zinda, Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Zinda Law Group. In less than 15 years, Jack and his team have grown Zinda Law Group from 3 attorneys to over 30, spanning several states and handling a variety of personal injury cases from gas explosions to truck accidents.