Stance, eye contact, comfort level, movement, facial expression, and dress can be seen as cues about honesty, collaboration, negotiation skills, ability to reach agreement, power, and actual work performance.  


The chairman and chief executive of an investment bank was recently quoted in the Sunday New York Times column “Corner Office” in which he said “. . . the first thing I look for are the nonverbal components of one’s overall presence and presentation.  Would I buy from this person?  Would I want to do business with that individual?  Do they look me in the eye?  Do they have a certain energy level?  Do they seem confident?  Those are the kinds of things that really matter most.”  

Likewise, a Forbes article on January 7, 2013, “10 Simple and Powerful Body Language Tips for 2013” discusses implications of body language – “[O]ver the years, I’ve noticed that parties are more likely to reach an agreement if they begin a negotiation by displaying engaged body language (smiling, nodding, mirroring, open gestures, etc.)”

The current marketplace puts considerable pressure on lawyers, particularly those early in their careers, to stand out.  It is a buyers’ market in which a client has no trouble finding a lawyer and needs to be given a reason to choose a particular one.

I have recently had the privilege of presenting to law students to help prepare them in client development and networking skills building.  Some very smart schools have made these courses a requirement, even in first semester of the first year!  Projecting confidence becomes key in classroom discussions about networking, interviewing, and getting hired.


Body language refers to stance, eye contact, comfort level, movement, facial expression and dress.   These can serve as cues about traits such as honesty, collaboration, negotiation skills, ability to reach agreement, power, and actual work performance.

Employers, internal and external clients, colleagues, and others who have influence can quickly pick up on non-verbal cues and make hiring and long-term association decisions accordingly.

To address this issue, particularly with young lawyers, here are three action steps to help you move the process along:

  • Teach body language skills as part of an orientation program
  • Role play prior to client meetings
  • “Fake it ’til you make it” is a good first strategy