Why is it that two attorneys can present the same idea to the same audience, but only one wins them over? Whether you are an outside or in-house counsel, building a position of influence with your clients or colleagues is not simply a function of your title, years of experience, or charisma. An attorney’s influence is built systematically, one step at a time, but often in subtle ways. As a result, most write off influence as some ethereal concept too amorphous to be explained, let alone taught.

Nonsense. In this article, I will attempt to demystify how influence in the legal profession is earned, breaking down the process into practical steps that you should be thinking about at various stages of your career practicing law. As an attorney, technology company executive, and professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, I have seen these principles play out firsthand.

Drawing from that experience and from the best practices I have observed during my career, this article will:

  • Explain how attorneys earn positions of influence;
  • Lay out a long-term roadmap to building a position of influence for clients and colleagues throughout your legal career;
  • Offer a scorecard to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as an influencer, be it as outside or in-house counsel; and
  • Provide tips and tactics so you will be better positioned to become a more influential, and therefore more effective, attorney.

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