On Your Own: Lookin’ for a Mind at Work

lookin' for a mind at work
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Some small law firms are built with the intent to remain small. Others are built with an eye towards growth. For those intending to grow, it is important to focus on bringing in dynamic attorneys. You want attorneys who aren’t there just to support the existing partners, but colleagues who can take a larger role in growing the firm’s revenue and reputation.

In baseball, there is the rare player referred to as a “five-tool player.” Those are players who excel at speed, throwing, fielding, hitting for average, and hitting for power. That construct led me to think about the tools we’re looking for in future hires and partners.




If you can’t be honest with us, opposing counsel, clients, or the court, we have no place for you in our business. There are too many opportunities in this profession to harm others through dishonesty. Poor reputations drag down those associated with you. I scrutinize the representations of every lawyer at some firms because of the sins of their colleagues.

Legal Analysis.

We have a duty to read and understand the law. Should we be pushing the envelope and making creative arguments? Absolutely. Will we always be right? No. This isn’t math. There isn’t always a “right” answer. However, some answers are objectively correct, and you need colleagues who approach perfection in that regard.

Work Ethic.

Hard work is often the great equalizer that overcomes other deficits. There are lawyers who may not be the quickest to analyze a problem, but they are tenacious enough to “read every treatise on the shelf ” to find the correct answer. They are lawyers who take the time to read all of the relevant materials. While there are times you might be outsmarted, you shouldn’t be outworked.


You don’t only have a duty to know the correct or best answer, you have to persuade a multitude of other people that you’re right. We all have our own styles. Some lawyers are smooth as silk, while others pound you like a jackhammer. Top lawyers learn how to use a variety of tools, and you want colleagues who understand or are intent on understanding how to persuade while being their best, authentic selves.


You can be the most technically skilled lawyer in the world, but if you can’t convince people to hire you your career will always be limited. If you’re relying upon some other lawyer to provide you with work, there’s a good chance that lawyer will better reap the monetary and other rewards of your hard work. In a small private firm with aspirations of growth, you need hires who understand they’re also working in sales.


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Jeff Storms

Jeff Storms is a partner at Newmark Storms Dworak LLC. He has a diverse litigation practice with an emphasis on plaintiff’s civil rights and sexual abuse litigation. Jeff is a perennial Super Lawyer and has twice been named an “Attorney of the Year” by Minnesota Lawyer.

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