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18 Professional Advice for Young Attorneys


In the course of carrying out my job, I’m frequently asked the meaning of professionalism. The word is quite lengthy just like its meaning. As regards law, professionalism is the ability of lawyers to effectively, respectfully and competently represent and work with their clients and the justice system. Professionalism reminds us of the roles of the lawyer as counselor, problem solver, negotiator, advocate, and officer of the legal system, which entails respect, expertise, civility, and recognition of the fact that a lawyer’s life is that of continuous learning.

During the course of travelling around the city and the state, I have met quite a lot of young attorneys who desire more specific professional advice. Their requests often center around how to act as a new attorney, who is not yet acclimatized to the legal practice, in the office. I have learned a lot of tricks and tips on how to be successful in this profession over my years of legal practice. I have also learned that your friends are the best set of people to ask for advice when you need counsel. 18 tips from myself and others on how young attorneys can be successful in today’s workplace are discussed below.

1. Always Bear In Mind That You Are The Newest Person On The Team:Younger generation of lawyers are renowned for adopting team-oriented approach, which may not be familiar with older attorneys, to executing projects. Whenever you want to speak or make any contribution, always bear in mind that deference is the first sign of respect for most older attorneys.


2. Listen First:

Since the job of attorneys entails talking, you should always ensure that you pay attention to what you are told by senior attorneys. Being a good listener is a very important skill that you need to develop as you advance in the legal profession because it shows that you respect the speaker. This is emphasized by the quote of Epictetus, a Greek philosopher, that we have one mouth and two ears so that we can listen twice more than we speak.


3. Include Feedback In Your Work:

Most people of all ages react defensively to criticism. However, it is very important for you as a new attorney to accept criticism and positively utilize it to change your pattern of behavior and work. This proves to senior attorneys that you are growing, respectful and mature.


4. Show That You Are Confident, And Not Arrogant:Companies seek to hire people who can explicitly express their own views, show enthusiasm, as well as those who can perform their work diligently. However, there is a slight difference between being confident and being arrogant, and you should be able to distinguish between both.


5. Thoroughly Proofread Your Work:

There is no alibi or justification for poor spelling and grammatical blunders. Hence, always print out and go through your works before submitting them.


6. Know Your Audience:

This is applicable to both work product and professional etiquette. While a senior partner may often only need the main points, a junior associate may want a more detailed report. Hence, always discern what the person to whom you are reporting to need, and also anticipate any other need that might come up later.


7. Always Respond Promptly And Respectfully To Communications Via The Same Channel You Received Them:This means that you should not respond to a voicemail using email, and you should not use text message to communicate with your clients or partners unless when it is first used by them.


8. Learn To Understand The Culture Of The Organization:

Every company, law firm, and establishment has an organizational culture. Listening, observing, learning and understanding these cultural norms for the first months will be of great benefit to you as you will be able to adapt to the organization easily.


9. Maximize Efficiency By Creating To-Do Lists:

You will likely have various and sundry demands on your limited time. To-do lists will enable you to plan tasks and effectively manage several of these commitments.


10. Ensure You Manage Expectations:

Do not make huge promise so will not end up giving your attorneys low quality work that are far below their expectation. It is always better to deliver more than what you promise.


11. Always Ask Questions When Necessary:

Even though the younger generation is majorly criticized for asking too many questions, it is still very important to ask necessary questions when given an assignment you do not understand so as to understand its scope and how to deal with it. At the start of an assignment, always ensure you get as much information as you can and check-in with the assigning lawyer if the need arises.


12. Be Respectful And Courteous To All Staff:

It is said that respect is reciprocal. Hence, it is very important to be courteous and respectful to everyone in your office so you can also gain their respect.


13. Always Abide By Ethical Rules:

There are various and sundry ethical rules that are applicable to lawyers, and it’s important to learn and apply them to your daily practice.


14. Get Involved In Your Legal Community:

New and young lawyers are always welcome in the legal community. Take full advantage of the various alumni groups, bar associations, and community organizations that are outside your school and participate in the legal community in order to gain necessary exposure.


15. Manage Your Finances Judiciously:

Most of what you will be taught in law school revolve around student debt but bear in mind that student debt is only a minor aspect of your financial plan. It is important to learn more about investment portfolios, retirement funds, mortgages, savings as well as childcare costs and college tuition plans, if applicable, because these and more will have a great impact on your financial life.


16. Pay Attention To Your Achievements:

You are your only best advocate. Hence, keep track of projects, recommendations, memoranda, reviews and anything that shows your professional growth throughout the course of your career.


17. Always Challenge Yourself:

Do not be satisfied with performing mediocre or satisfactory jobs. Always endeavor to be creative, innovative, learn more about your firm, propose new ideas and embark upon new projects.


18. Get A Mentor:

Search for a mentor who can give you career advice, inspire and guide you to succeed in your career. Although finding your ideal mentor will be time-consuming but the benefit is worth it.


The 18 tips given above are some of our useful tips that can help young attorneys become professional in their various places of work. If you have some other tips, do feel free to share them in the comment section below as you might just begin the mentoring of a young attorney.