Every new lawyer needs guidelines to gain practical knowledge and confidence in their work. These ten tips from an experienced attorney will help you develop the skills and habits necessary to launch your career successfully:
Top Ten Pieces of Advice for New Attorneys
1. Find a mentor
Any beginning is challenging, and having a mentor to turn to when questions arise is the key to gaining knowledge and confidence as a lawyer. You can find a mentor by enrolling in a formal mentoring program within a law firm or even approaching one yourself. The aim is to build a safe space where you feel free to ask any legal or career questions. Only make sure you do some research on your own first.
2. Build a network
After you have found your mentor, continue contacting and acquaintances with people who could help further your career. Building a strong network as a new lawyer can result in connections with either potential clients or other lawyers you can collaborate with and learn from in the future. If not in person, visit the websites of other successful lawyers and law firms, such as Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, and learn about what makes them stand out.
3. Hone your negotiating skills
As a lawyer, you will find yourself negotiating on behalf of your client daily. Negotiating requires empathy and emotional intelligence — two soft skills necessary for being firm about your client’s position but staying collaborative and considerate towards the opposing party. Employing these skills as a lawyer could result in more cordial relations and in saving your client money.
4. Master advocacy and drafting
Practical legal skills are a basis for persuasion in court. Although your job amounts to good verbal advocacy, it is based on thoroughly preparing carefully chosen exhibits and a well-drafted statutory declaration. It is a concise and engaging structure that allows for the quick delivery of your arguments. Therefore, make sure you prepare and follow the structure.
5. Perfect your time management
Avoid getting stressed over the six-minute billing unit by recording all activities and time spent on them. These include PLT, CPD, and any marketing and mentoring activities (supervision of staff, career fairs participations, and others). Not only will this help with performance reviews, but it will also reflect your lawyer skills and abilities.
6. Prepare for long hours
Lawyers tend to work overtime and can’t seem to attain a work-life balance. Rather than trying to achieve the impossible, ensure you enjoy what you do. You might dive into work and neglect your private life as a new lawyer. However, you must also spend quality time with your loved ones and set aside time for resting and working out.
7. Be up-to-date
As a new lawyer, you must be informed of current world affairs. You need to update your knowledge of politics and culture consistently. Moreover, you need to stay familiarized with news regarding the law, lawyers, and clients’ cases. Studying and understanding relevant cases can greatly help develop your skills as a lawyer.
8. Pre-trial preparations
Although trial textbooks can help you with what to expect, ensure you do the practical work. Visit the courtroom to check the available technology and identify potential issues, read and reread all the files and documents, prepare an opening statement and closing argument, decide on demonstrative aids, prepare jury instructions and witness outlines, and be ready for evidentiary issues.
9. Exude confidence
Being a public speaker requires self-confidence. To win a trial, your words have to be trusted. Therefore, you need to be great at delivering them effectively. If this is not your strong suit — don’t panic. There are many public speaking seminars you can attend to master this skill.
10. Turn your mistakes into lessons
Everyone is sometimes wrong. As a new lawyer, you should be prepared to make mistakes. Instead of being too hard on yourself, learn from your errors, improve, and forgive yourself.
As a lawyer, your education never ends. You must improve it and expand it daily. The most effective way to achieve that is through collaboration, observation, and trial-and-error. Experience requires action.