Rae Shearn is a respected and hard-hitting criminal defense attorney with over 3 decades of practical and academic experience. In that time, she has become a trusted and respected leader in criminal defense in Broward County Florida. She is an AV-Preeminent-rated trial lawyer with a focus on defending her clients from the death penalty. She has been recognized as a Top National Trial Attorney twice and is the proprietor of Rae Shearn Law, a leading criminal defense firm in Southern Florida.
We had the opportunity to speak with Rae and asked her what it takes to run a successful law firm. Here is some of what we learned.
Rae Shearn on What it Takes to Run a Successful Law Firm
Rae has a long background in academia and spent a significant portion of her professional life as a teacher. But she contends that running a successful law firm takes much more than just an impressive education. According to her, the first thing you need to get a handle on is how to take care of your employees. Rae says, “You have assistants, junior partners, and paralegals. They all have important jobs, jobs that you need them to do well. Otherwise, you won’t have the time or the leverage to do your job.”
She explains that this means giving them the time, pay, and the resources they need to act in their professional capacities. But, she says, it also means providing quality snacks, attractive benefits, and making sure they know they are appreciated. But of course, Rae says, that’s just the start.
Showing Clients That You Are Professional & Well-Rounded
Clients want to see, or at least get the impression, that you know your area of law and how to deal with the system, Rae says. But, they don’t want to entrust their futures to a robot who only understands the law and the legal system. They want to work with a firm and with attorneys who understand the human motivations behind the decisions they make. Rae explains, “Sometimes clients make unique, personal, and frankly unusual choices. These choices are based on their worldviews, their values, and deeply held beliefs. Sometimes these things may not be aligned with their best interests, but when it’s about personal integrity, their representatives need to understand.”
Balancing Client Outreach & Call-Taking
Any good law firm can outsource to call centers to do their client outreach. But taking calls is somewhat more involved. When someone calls your firm, it’s because they know something about you, even if it’s just the fact that your ad looked better than some other firm’s ad. When prospective clients call, they are usually at one of the lowest points in their life. They need a personal touch, and they need someone who can offer them the help they need. That’s an energy and time-intensive task, and it needs to be taken seriously.
Good Business Sense
Finally, Rae explains, practicing law is a business. She says, “You are offering a service for pay. That means you need good business sense to build and maintain a firm. Building a business, and being an attorney is both largely about having a creative type of mind. But running a business is about day-to-day work, and it requires a more conscientious mode of thinking. Few people can think creatively and conscientiously at the same time. But to run a successful law firm, you either need to do both or have a team that can do it all.”