What’s in the bag?!
Being a lawyer is already a difficult job - it requires a range of skills, knowledge, and patience to effectively serve clients and navigate the legal profession. I may not have my J.D., but I have worked alongside attorneys for many years and, besides bringing their expertise to the table, I noticed the tangible items as well as intangible items they carry that contribute to their success. Here are some of the essentials every lawyer should have:
1. ”Papa’s got a brand new bag.” You guessed it, a must-have item for any lawyer is a good bag. What’s a good bag? A good bag is big enough to carry all your “tools” for lawyering with compartments to keep you organized. It should also be durable and although it may be tempting to buy the bag sporting Barbie or He-man, it should look professional. Most importantly, it should be your designated work bag – there is nothing worse than losing or misplacing items when constantly switching between bags.
2. Business Cards. Not much needs to be said except to have them readily accessible. Also, be sure to keep them updated with the correct information.
3. Phone. You can be on team iPhone or team Android, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you have your phone in your bag in case you have an emergency, personal or professional.
4. Chargers (Laptop and phone). Everyone knows the feeling of dread that washes over you when your laptop or phone is teetering on the edge of running out of power, and you remember your charger is still plugged into the wall in your office. Just like when you pat yourself down for your keys and wallet, make sure you double-check for your charger(s).
5. Notepad. Whether you are old school and prefer to carry old faithful (yellow legal pad) or like to show how tech-savvy you are with a fancy digital tablet, make sure you have something to take notes on. Chances are you won’t remember every major detail discussed during a meeting with a client. And if you are thinking of using that slightly used paper napkin you found in your pocket, don't!
6. Writing tool. They say “Behind every great notepad, is a great pen.” Okay, I made that up, but it does have some truth to it. I recommend a pen that does not smear or put holes in the paper due to a tsunami of ink pouring out of the tip. I personally like the classic Bic pen – they’re cheap and last a lifetime.
7. Caffeine (optional). It comes in all forms nowadays, but we mostly consume it when we drink coffee. I currently work and have worked with attorneys who need their cup of joe in the morning…also before lunch…at lunch… and after lunch. For some attorneys, coffee is the fuel to their fire and increases their performance and productivity, especially after pulling an all-nighter.
8. Confidence. It’s not something you can touch, but it is something you should feel and should always carry around with you inside and outside of the office.
Every lawyer will have his or her set of must-haves. Some may not carry a bag, and some may prefer a pencil over a pen, but the best thing you should always do is bring the best service for your clients, and above all, the best version of yourself.