A Review: Jaeger-Fine’s Legal Professional Persona Self-help

sandy1“Those who succeed are not those with the greatest academic prowess— instead those who thrive in the practice possess certain qualities that lead them to success.”

As a third-year law student who does not currently sit in the top 10% of her class, this resonated with me as the opening line to the book and subsequently I was hooked. Tell me more about how I am still going to be a success, Toni. As a self-help novel on teaching the foundation of building a professional persona ,and its requirement in this day and age of the legal field Ms. Jaeger-Fine is concise and gets straight to the point. Divided into three parts: (1) legal professional persona fundamentals (2) self-management: professionalism from the inside and (3) relationships; her novel is easy to read and before you realize it, you’re an hour in and about done with the entire novel.

Due to modern times and the ever changed post-recession legal market, there is far more mobility between lawyers in the market, and access to equity partnership is more elusive than ever before. Clients are more price-sensitive and with increased transparency and information sharing it gives clients more effective tools to evaluate counsel. What in turn does this mean? Modern law practices demand a strong professional persona more than ever before.

sandy2

Your professional persona is an outgrowth of your personal persona. Jaeger-Fine’s building blocks of developing a professional persona are (1) Competence (2) Habits (3) multiple forms of intelligence and (4) Leadership; the most defining principle. What I found the most enlightening is building, forming,

and perfecting your professional persona does not start and end with mastering the four above components. Jaeger points to maintaining a positive mindset. Having enthusiasm and passion for our work and possessing the resilience necessary to overcome adversity. Committing to excellence; being resourceful in the workplace, reliable, prepared, adaptable and flexible. In addition; developing a strong character, as in treating others with respect, acting with integrity, humbleness, and authenticity.

The importance of well-being and sustainability is touched on as Jaeger emphasizes “healthy and happy lawyers do their best work”.  Learning how to manage the inevitable stress as an attorney, cultivating meaningful relationships, and engaging in mindfulness is just a sample of what was discussed. In terms of working in a firm, civility, networking, discretion, embracing teamwork, and mentors or sponsors are discussed as being of the utmost importance.

Whoever said there is no such thing as bad publicity must not have been an attorney. For all the young millennial lawyers or those who are tech savvy, you’ll love this. In this modern world and with taking all the tools referenced above in cultivating a well-rounded professional persona Jaeger points out the necessity of an e-persona as well. Using the Internet to promote your brand, dressing the part, and being proactive in disseminating your brand. Because your public professional persona is important as it drives how you are perceived.

Developing a strong legal professional persona is not easy and clearly, after reading this book it’s not a simple to-do list you can cross off. It takes self-reflection, betterment, and time. And as Jaeger-Fine points out herself a one-time read may not be sufficient. So I encourage you as the author did me to refer back to the book, once you get your hands on it, regularly at different stages of your career from law student to partner this book is a must read and should be in your personal study library today.

~by Sandy Dominique, Charleston School of Law Research Fellow

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