Whether you’ve just passed the bar exam or you’ve been working in the field for a while, you’re probably looking for ways to succeed in your chosen area of law. While each legal subject area has its own requirements, rules, and vocabulary, some secrets of success in a legal career transcend both topic areas and places of employment.
To give your legal career a much-needed boost, consider these steps:
- Find your purpose.
There’s an old saying: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” While it may not be literally true – becoming an attorney is hard work – it does sum up the importance of identifying your core values and focusing on them in order to get what you want out of life. When you know what your core values are, you can match them with an employer who shares them, improving everyone’s chances of success.
- Remember the team.
Law school is competitive, and many young attorneys come out of law school ready for the same sort of individual competition they faced in class. Remember that, while law is still competitive, the main competition is between adversaries – not between you and your coworkers or supervisor.
- Work smarter, not harder.
Many young attorneys are advised to arrive before their bosses and leave after their bosses have left. While this approach does demonstrate a valuable work ethic, you will achieve better results in the long-term if you maintain a work-life balance that allows you to rest and recharge.
- Seek the answer before asking the question.
While senior associates and partners are often willing to help new attorneys do their best work, they are also busy individuals who appreciate being asked questions only when their colleagues have already exhausted the most obvious routes to the answer. Take the initiative to seek your own answers before knocking on a colleague’s door.
- Work well with support staff.
Legal secretaries and paralegals provide invaluable support, from typing documents to reminding attorneys of looming deadlines. Get to know your support staff and treat them well.
- Practice your communication skills.
Attorneys read, write, argue, and think for a living, so it’s easy to assume our communication skills need no work. In fact, the opposite is true: while you may communicate admirably in front of a judge, you will also need to be able to explain your reasoning and recommendations to non-lawyer audiences, including company shareholders and other clients. Practice using the sort of “plain language” that clearly communicates your thoughts without getting bogged down in legal verbiage.
- Have a plan.
Like any long-term venture, a career cannot succeed without a plan. Know where you want to be in one year, five years, and ten years, and break each goal down into measurable, manageable steps.
- Work with a recruiter.
A recruiter who specializes in placing legal talent can be your best ally, both when you are searching for a job and when you are established in a law firm or legal department. Build a strong relationship with your recruiter to benefit from his or her knowledge and experience.
At Assigned Counsel, our experienced recruiters match top candidates with law firms and legal departments to create the right “fit.” Contact our team today.