Alexander LeVeque | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Alexander LeVeque

Background:  

Solomon Dwiggins & Freer Ltd. is a law firm that specializes in trust and estate matters in Nevada. Alexander LeVeque is a partner with the firm and primarily handles commercial and trust estate litigation. He oversees marketing, advertising and public relations for the firm, and also oversees their associate attorneys.

The Mistake:

The thing I wish I had done earlier on in my career is starting networking with other attorneys from the beginning, because when you're a first-, second-, and third-year attorney, the likelihood of you bringing in big business is minimal. I think that discourages attorneys when they're first starting to practice to get out there and network and get to know other people in your profession because a lot of the time you're just trying to focus on learning the law, being a good employee, and getting your work done.

I think that what you don't realize, and I didn't realize this until much later in my career, is that even though you might not be bringing in big clients when you're doing it, say, the first five years of your career, you're establishing relationships with people who eventually will start giving you business and referring you business. Because these attorneys who are new right now – 10 years later they’re partners of law firms, they're owning their own law firms. And they might need a trust estate lawyer, cause they've got a client they need to help out and who do they call? Well, they call the person that they’ve known for 10 years.

There's always a part of you that has to be a salesperson.

The Lesson:

One associate who works for me was very good while in law school at establishing relationships with other law students. In his second year of practice, one of the law students that he had established a relationship with had a really significant family issue that involved complex litigation. That case could have gone to someone else, but because she knew him she referred it to him. And he brought in that case, which was a really big case for him and it was literally his second year of practice – all because of the efforts he made in law school to get to know people.

That's one of the lessons that I impart on my associates here is that you have to start that networking right away because this is an ever-changing economy. With lawyers, it doesn’t matter who you are. There's always a part of you that has to be a salesperson because at the end of the day this is a service industry and without clients you're not making any money. So get out there, go to Bar Association functions, go to lunches, go to bars for happy hour. Even if it's not necessarily going to give you a case this year or the next year, down the road several years later, it pays dividends.

Photo courtesy of Solomon Dwiggins & Freer Ltd.

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