When meeting someone for the first time we have nanoseconds before we are judged and cataloged. We either fit his/her expectations and have an opportunity to continue toward a relationship, or we did not fit... and the relationship has already failed.
Attorneys face a double whammy! First, a lawyer is judged as a person and in that same nanosecond, judged and cataloged as a lawyer.
Most attorneys I've ever known are incredible people and in most cases will pass the first test with flying colors. Unfortunately, many I know do not pass the second -- the reason will surprise you.
Growing up in a media age your clients and prospects eat a continual diet of images and personalities via television, media outlets and movies that leaves an imprint of whom a lawyer is, performs and acts. It's a stereotype. Whether you project the stereotype, or not, will impact first impressions -- the nanosecond before judgment.
In general, everyone who is not a lawyer expects you (the lawyer) to act like a lawyer. What that looks like is this:
- In control
- Successfully attired (fitting to the occasion)
- Appropriately opinionated
None of this whole stereotyping stuff is fair, but it's real and everyday. If you wish to succeed as a lawyer I encourage you to act like one!