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.

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.