When you start a new job, you know there will be lessons to learn and that you will make many mistakes before you find your feet. It is no different for a new lawyer who is just starting out. We spoke to a few experienced lawyers to get some good advice and tips for those of you are braving the new challenges of being a lawyer. We hope these tips will make the learning of tough lessons easier and reduce the number of rookie mistakes you make.
Don’t be afraid to ask and accept help. There are many people around you who have been doing the job longer than you and know things you still need to learn. Ask for help and allow them to help you. You don’t need to know everything all the time.
Never say it can’t be done. Your answer to a question or request should never be ‘no, you can’t. Instead, you should answer something like ‘ok, let’s find a way’ or ‘yes, let’s figure out how you can do that’.
Return phone calls as soon as possible. Being a lawyer is a fast-paced job and you will rarely be doing nothing. Make sure to return phone calls promptly as you never know when it is an emergency or important information pertaining to something you’re working on.
Paying your dues is inevitable. You may not like starting at the bottom, but that is where everyone starts. You may feel the work you’re given is beneath you, but it is part of what you need to do to get to the good stuff. Making coffee, having good ideas that other take credit for, and generally being an errand boy will get you to the top in good time.
Getting the facts is your job. Getting facts and doing research is a very big part of being a lawyer. It is your job to find the facts and information that is needed regardless of whether people want to give them to you or not. You will have to find a way to get those answers no matter what.
Under-promise and over-deliver. This is true in any job, but especially so for lawyers. Being realistic, but hopeful can be difficult, but it is often what your clients need. Never make promises you know you can’t keep and never fail to deliver what you promise.
Always be early for appointments. This shows that you are professional, timely and that the other person is important. If you are running late, call ahead and let them know you are on your way. This shows respect and professionalism that will win you a lot of points.
Find the big picture first. Lawyers work through a lot of information and need to see a lot of pictures, big and small. The most effective strategy is to see the big picture and then focus on the little pieces. Building the picture from little pieces can sometimes seem and be impossible.
Always pay attention to how you interact with people and treat them with respect. If you start your career as some that are reliable, sharp, and creative, you are building a solid foundation for future success.