Top 10 Characteristics Of The Best Attorneys In The World

I may see two different candidates. Once candidate may have gone to a school like Vanderbilt for their undergraduate degree and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and then gone to University of Michigan Law School on scholarship. Another candidate may have gone to a school like Dartmouth and been in the upper middle of their class, then gone to a school like Columbia Law School.

When I have my choice of the candidate to represent-and the candidate that is most likely to excel in a law firm-it is generally going to be the person who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vanderbilt and went to Michigan Law School on scholarship. I know this person is likely to be hungrier, likely to be more committed, try harder and ultimately be a better attorney.

Is this a gross generalization? Of course it is. But when I look at my 15+ years of experience placing attorneys, I have seen that the more signs of extreme academic motivation someone has as a college student, the better they are likely to do as an attorney.

At top schools around the United States-Yale, Stanford, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and so forth-there are no shortage of people who are extremely gifted intellectually. At the University of Chicago, where I went to school, just about everyone I knew was able to get in the mid-to-high 90th percentile on the Law School Admissions test. Most of these people were average students who did not work that hard. Very few were the sort of people I would want representing me, despite their smarts.

Being a good attorney has a lot to do with motivation: If you were in serious trouble, would you want someone motivated representing you – or someone who was just smart? The motivation makes a huge difference.

Not too long ago, I hired a law firm to work on a case for me. The attorney I hired had gone to great schools several decades ago. I went to watch the attorney argue a case and could not believe how dry, un-impassioned and unprepared he was. In contrast, the attorney on the other side was lit up, energetic and enthusiastically argued his client’s case. The other attorney won.