• How a person thinks of life and their work directly links to their job performance.
  • The difference when considering this is class based.
  • These expectations are based on how much business a lawyer can bring to a firm.
  • They are not based on the lawyer’s abilities.

Summary: Success in the legal profession is not determined by skill alone. There are also socio-economic and class-based barriers that must be overcome.

Five Class-Based Rules That Determine Attorney Success or Failure


One of the largest distinctions—and markers of success for attorneys, and all people, really—is related to how a person thinks about life and work. These differences, in large part, are class based and often have more to do with the expectations the person brings to the "game" of law than with the person's abilities and what they think is possible.

What expectations have you brought to your career? Let us know in the comments!

Throughout my career, I have been very upset by mistakes that very intelligent attorneys make who may, quite simply, be making decisions that are the result of their upbringing and environment.
 
  • It is very common, for example, for me to see members of various ethnic groups raised in poverty (but that perhaps have attended great schools) drop out of the practice of law when they have the abilities, but not the thought processes, to make them successful.
  • It is common, as well, to see people from small towns have serious problems. You do not, for example, see many children of farmers at places like Yale or Stanford Law School.

The point is, there are massive socio-economic and class-based barriers that people must overcome to enter the legal profession and remain in it. These barriers also constitute a series of fundamental "rules" that attorneys need to follow to both succeed and rise in the legal profession.
   
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

Recently, I went to two high school graduation parties and the differences between the two events could not have been starker. One was in the home of a rich child of famous parents in Malibu, California, and the other was in a small town in rural Ohio. As I thought about these two graduations, I realized that the thought processes that make one attorney successful and another unsuccessful were on display and being played out right before my eyes.

The first party I went to was in Malibu at the home of one of the children of a world-famous talent agent. This party was in a beautiful 15,000+ square foot home that looked as if it could be a college. As part of the party, students were selling various pieces of artwork they had made in art classes at the school throughout the school year.