Career Tips for New Lawyers
Take Control with Advice and Insights from Recruitment Professionals
For early career lawyers juggling a whirlwind of competing priorities and relentless deadlines, finding the time for deliberate career planning can be a daunting challenge. If you're one of many concerned about staying on track to achieve your career goals, you're in good company.
We often hear from lawyers who are dissatisfied with their career trajectory, experience uncertainty about their plans, and grapple with the complexities of the early stages of their legal journey. In an effort to empower you to take control of your future, we've consolidated valuable insights acquired from our legal space recruiters into a set of career tips.
1. Strengthen Your Network: A strong network can offer fresh perspectives and access to new opportunities. Make time to attend legal events, join relevant associations, and nurture relationships with experienced lawyers, peers, and colleagues. Focus not only on your interests, but what you have to offer those you connect with to ensure the relationship are meaningful and positive for all parties involved. Be sure to leverage digital networking options like LinkedIn. You can further strengthen your network by connecting with recruiters who specialize in the legal field to offer insight into firms and career opportunities that align with your interests. They may be able to introduce you to organizations looking for legal professionals with your skills and experience.
2. Find a Mentor: One of the top complaints we hear from junior lawyers, is the lack of mentorship and development opportunities available in their current organization. If you aren’t satisfied with what is offered to you, take charge and approach someone you respect to be your mentor. Keep in mind that the best mentoring relationships start with well-established expectations of both parties. Be considerate of your prospective mentor’s time. Ensure your ask is clear and that you are willing to invest the time necessary to make the most of their advice. Mentors can offer valuable introductions and advice to help you navigate the complexities of the legal industry.
3. Build Your Personal Brand: You don’t need to be a social media influencer for personal brand to matter. Be thoughtful about how you want to be seen by your colleagues, clients, and future employers. Take stock of your individual professional and personal accomplishments as well as the unique skills, experiences, and perspectives you have to offer. You may find it helpful to reflect on major deals, transactions, or cases you were involved in as well as the qualities and behaviours others have commended you for. Make sure your strengths are woven into your resume and your online image through platforms like LinkedIn.
“Ensure the way you present yourself online, in print, and in person is consistent with the person you want to be. In an interview, be prepared to answer the common question, “tell me about yourself”, with a concise answer that describes your current situation, your experience, and the reason you are well suited for the opportunity. Speak about your successes with conviction and compelling examples.”
- Adam Creaghan, CPA, CMA, Partner, Legal and Professional Services Recruitment.
4. Broaden Your Experience: Legal education provides the theoretical foundation, but practical experience is critically important for your development. Seek clerkships or secondments where you can apply your education to acquire crucial skills. Not only will this experience contribute to your resume it may offer you the opportunity to explore potential practice areas that are of interest to you – and equally important – learn what areas you may want to avoid. Don’t be afraid to adjust your plans to lean into your strengths and passions. While some lawyers choose to specialize others choose career paths that allow them to apply their skills and education in less traditional ways – there are a wide array of career opportunities available to law school graduates. A mentor or a recruitment professional may be able to help you see your career options in a new light.
5. Time Management and Attention to Detail: It’s no secret that law can be a demanding profession. When speaking with lawyers they often stress just how crucial it is that junior lawyers learn effective ways to manage their time, work efficiently, and add value to their firm/practice group. In addition to the work you’re assigned, you can add value by sending calendar invites for meetings/court dates, proofreading documents, preparing internal resources (e.g. summaries of key cases or recent amendments to legislation), running blacklines, and taking thorough meeting notes.
Be sure to make time for activities you enjoy outside of work – doing so is vital to prevent burnout and maintain your well-being. Community involvement can help you explore personal passions while also helping you expand your network. Also, be deliberate about setting time aside to think about your career goals and to taking action to get you there.
6. Develop Effective Research and Writing Skills: Honing your legal research skills so that you can quickly find relevant precedents, cases and statutes is one way to quickly stand out as a junior lawyer. Further, writing clearly and concisely when preparing memos, pleadings, and even emails is another way to set yourself apart. Both clients and your employers appreciate communication that gets straight to the point – providing an answer upfront before delving into the explanation can save the reader a lot of time and energy.
Things like improving your writing and research skills may seem simple and second nature at this point in your career, but we so often hear from lawyers at all stages about how the small things make a big difference.”
- Adam Creaghan, CPA, CMA, Partner, Legal and Professional Services Recruitment
7. Stay Informed, Adapt, and Show Confidence: The legal landscape is constantly evolving. Stay up to date on changes in legislation, regulations, and technology. Don’t be afraid to embrace new tools and techniques to improve your legal practice and remain competitive in the field. Continuing professional development is essential to help you realize your career goals, contribute to your team, and support future clients. If you don’t feel that your current role offers you the opportunity to grow and develop, consider making a shift. And remember to stay confident! Planning, perseverance, and your unique aptitudes have supported you in getting this far – with the right plan, the options for your future are endless.
Interested in learning more about career trends and opportunities in the legal field? Connect with our team.