Young lawyers already admitted to the bar area in a sea of uncertainty as to the best decisions to make for a successful start to their careers, whether their desire is to join a law firm or whether their dream is to be a self-employed lawyer from the outset.
Starting out is never easy, especially for those who decide to practice law without first meeting a lawyer who can advise, assist or pave the way for those taking their first steps.
Here are ten tips for young lawyers, compiled, in our opinion, with input from practicing lawyers
Find a mentor.
Law is still a profession that is passed down from generation to generation. It is very important to be able to benefit from the experience of more experienced professionals. Starting out on your own is very difficult, and it can lead to mistakes in your approach to cases. If you are starting out in a large firm, it is very important to absorb and be very receptive to the advice and guidance of long-time professionals. If you want to start your career as a freelance lawyer, it is also important that you first assist or collaborate with another senior lawyer, for example, by handling cases together.
Learn to be a salesperson.
Customer acquisition is fundamental. If you want to carry out a project yourself, setting up your own office is vital to your life, and if you enter a boutique or large firm will be a very important issue to go up in your career. In the beginning, clients never come on their own because, remember, no one knows you. You should make the most of your business skills and start your own advertising and marketing plan: you are the best salesperson for your services.
If you are starting out as a self-employed lawyer, the most natural thing to do is to start with your family and friends so that they, in turn, start recommending you to their friends and relatives. In this way, it is possible that one of them may decide to entrust you with their business.
Even if your financial situation allows it, make a small investment in advertising (business cards, brochures) and take advantage of the biggest source of free advertising: social media; they are a way of making yourself known for free.
A bet on continuous learning.
Legal texts and social reality are constantly changing, forcing lawyers to adapt constantly. This process of adaptation does not happen by magic: study new legislation, case law, attend court proceedings to familiarise yourself with the development of hearings (procedural law is necessary in all court orders). It’s a good idea to get into the habit of attending a course on a particular topic each year and reading books on issues that catch your attention as part of your specialization.
Specialize and be restless. Don’t try to be another one.
Specialization becomes more important every day. Specialize in one branch of law or another; remember that nowadays it is preferable to know fewer subjects but deeper than to want to know all branches of law and not control any of them. When we talk about specialization, we don’t just mean getting a Master’s degree, but also interacting with experts in your field and attending courses, seminars, and conferences offered by the Bar Association, the Young Lawyers Association, the University; there are many options for acquiring knowledge.
Take care of the client.
In the relationship with the client, the most important thing is to create and maintain a relationship of trust, like law essay writer online with his customers, in which the client feels comfortable telling you absolutely everything related to the case. This is no easy task, especially considering that, on many occasions, the client starts by lying; it is up to your skills to make them feel comfortable and make them rectify the ‘truth’ they have told you.
On the other hand, in our profession, we invert the famous saying, and we must bear in mind that ‘the client is not always right.’ This does not mean that we throw in the towel and that we will not take on his defense; we will do so, and we will do everything in our power to win the case. However, it is essential not to mislead the client, to discuss carefully what the chances of success are and what the strategy will be; it is important that the client perceives that you are loyal and honest because, otherwise, you would be generating false expectations that could leave you in a bad place.
Collaborate with colleagues and join associations.
It is advisable to participate in the activities organized by the Bar Association, register with the Young Lawyers‘ Association, and join the Legal Aid Service as soon as possible, as these simple actions will allow you to meet other colleagues. There are also Associations or groupings of lawyers according to their specialties which will provide you with a valuable network of contacts who have the same interests as you and with whom you can have interesting and intellectually exciting discussions.
These first contacts will help you to build up a network of colleagues on whom you can rely when you need help. Remember that, deontologically, more experienced lawyers should give advice to younger lawyers when they ask for it without being able to demand or receive compensation in return; this does not mean that we should be ungrateful, but quite the opposite, because in this profession clients always pass, but colleagues remain. In this way, you will be able to refer matters to trusted professionals, being able to say no to issues you are not comfortable with without losing the client or solving their problems.
New generations of lawyers are much more familiar with new technologies than more experienced lawyers, which undoubtedly has a number of advantages. If you are young, you will find it easier to handle legal databases, office management systems, or specific technological tools, which saves you time.
In addition, traditional law firms are immersed in the process of digital transformation, taking advantage of marketing to generate business. The Internet and social networks offer the possibility of implementing innovative ideas at a relatively low cost that would otherwise not be possible; in fact, there are already legal influencers.
Optimize your costs if you start as a freelancer.
The beginnings as a freelancer are always complicated as you do not have recurring income or enough clients to cover costs. The main advice if you are starting out is: try to have a few fixed costs as possible and optimize them as much as possible. Is it necessary to rent premises in a central area from the beginning? Probably not. It is better to start, for example, in a coworking space, as most of them offer other interesting services (meeting room, Internet and telephone access, networking), and you can also work from home and travel to the client’s premises on specific occasions. If you opt for premises, start with second-hand furniture and equipment without great luxury.
Cultivate skills that are not only legal.
The 21st-century lawyer is a 360º lawyer, technical quality is presumed and is not enough. It is important to develop social and business skills in order to develop a successful professional career. Some people are better at, for example, public speaking or convincing, but you should know that skills can also be cultivated and developed. Some necessary skills and competencies are public speaking, leadership, emotional intelligence, negotiation, talent management, or entrepreneurial mindset. In addition, it is important that you have knowledge of financial and economic analysis, accounting, or marketing, as well as new innovation methodologies such as Canavan, Legal Design Thinking, or Legal Project Management.
Your work has value, and you should charge for it.
It is true that we are in a very competitive legal market, where the biggest advantages come down to economics. However, this competitiveness should not lead you to think that your work is worthless or worth less than that of your colleagues; you should be the first to value yourself and to demand the appropriate remuneration for your services.
Apply from the beginning the rule that you do not work for free, not even for family and friends; do not allow the substitution of a material object for a price, as this will put you in a difficult situation when you decide to start charging the client for consultations and/or the processing of a procedure that could even end in the loss of the client.