Whether you’re seeking professional success or trying to avoid learning the hard way, follow this advice to help develop and grow your legal career.
If you’re a new lawyer and starting the journey as a practicing attorney then there are tons of things you will need to quickly learn. No matter if you are starting your own solo practice, joining a small law firm, or jumping right into big law, you’re going to need some help and guidance if you hope to succeed.
But figuring out what those lessons are in advance is way easier said than done, otherwise, everyone would be prepared and ready to take on those challenges no problem! That is where we would like to step in and help. Here are four specific pieces of advice to consider for the first few years of law practice, hopefully, they can help you avoid having to learn them the hard way.
Don’t be afraid to say no
Eventually, you’ll reach a point in your career where you’ll need to say no more than yes. Especially if you’re attempting something like starting your own solo practice.
But as your practice grows, you simply can’t do everything. Your time and energy are sacred and you have to be a better gatekeeper to who or what has access to these limited resources.
So try to make a conscious effort to say no to anything that doesn’t add value to your life or practice. That could mean turning down more cases, getting rid of cases that cause unnecessary stress, and saying no to opportunities that don’t align with your goals.
And I assure you that this will be one of the most freeing feelings you’ll experience. Imagine only dealing with clients that you want to work with and have more control over your time.
Learn and grow from your opportunities
Unless they start their own practice, most new attorneys are not going to work for the firm or the practice area of their choice. For the first few years in the workforce, their career path will be all over the place, working on all sorts of cases and with all kinds of people.
But you shouldn’t wallow and moan about this, instead make the most of the experience. Observe everything, ask questions, find a mentor, and learn learn learn. Find out how the other lawyers bring in clients. Who do they frequently talk to? How do they market themselves? What conferences do they attend? How do they network and follow up with people? All the little things that you will need to succeed that you won’t learn in law school.
Don’t neglect your physical and mental health
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to neglect your physical and mental health. According to a study conducted by the Forum for Health Economics and Policy, working in excess of 40 hours per week increases your chance of being overweight. A mere 10 extra work hours are associated with a weight gain of 2.5 pounds. Those who are married and work white-collar jobs are at even higher risk.
There’s evidence that lawyers are particularly susceptible to unhealthy lifestyle choices. A study conducted by the American Bar Association and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation revealed that 36 percent of lawyers engage in hazardous drinking or possible alcohol dependence.
You would think that self-employed lawyers, who have more control over their schedule than their firm-employed peers, would find the time to make better lifestyle choices. That’s not always the case. So be aware of the risks and take action to overcome them, you and your family will thank you for it in the long run!
Spend your money wisely
For the first few years, your budget will be tight, so you have to be very careful about how you spend your money. Initially, you should invest your money in things that will help you grow professionally. That could mean getting a nice fitting suit to wear to court, hiring a business consultant to help move your practice forward, or joining a mastermind group that will help you to learn more about running a business and staying accountable.
Or if you don’t need to purchase anything, either save the money for a rainy day or pay down debt.
Invest in your practice and professional development now and you will discover that it will be well worth it in the long run.