You’ve graduated law school, made it through that pesky bar exam and secured a job with a law firm. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but now you’re basically starting over from scratch. So it’s vitally important to establish a solid foundation for your legal career early on.
How can you position yourself for success in the years to come? Here are 10 ways to take charge of your career as a new lawyer.
Set a Goal
Do you want to make partner at this firm? Is this just a stepping stone for another opportunity? Give it some thought and write it out.
Yes, the work is long and hard but don't get trapped in your office being a workhorse. Get out and interact with your coworkers and partners. Let them see you and get to know you as a person and not just as someone to dump work on.
You must be in charge of your development personally and professionally. Don't wait for someone else to give you opportunities because they won't. Seek them out and ask to be involved. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your partner or just aimlessly do the work placed in front of you. Find out how your assignment fits in the greater scheme of the case. Always be curious.
Join one or two bar associations or one bar association and a non-legal organization and get involved. Make a name for yourself as a lawyer outside of your firm. The connections you make will be invaluable. Besides, you'll be surprised at how many people will go out of their way to help a young and hungry lawyer.
Do Great Work
This goes without saying, but should be said. Adopt a habit of excellence in everything you do.
Seek Out a Mentor
Find someone you feel comfortable with discussing your career plans. They can be a great sounding board by helping to guide you in the right direction and introduce you to new opportunities.
Find Allies at work
It's even better if your mentor is at the firm. If not, develop relationships with people at the firm that can go to bat for you when it's time to discuss raises and other opportunities.
Ask for Feedback
Always look to get better. Ask for feedback such as what you did well and what you can improve upon. Do this constantly. Don't wait until the annual performance review to know where you stand. This way you can make corrections right away.
Don't rely on your memory. Make it a habit to write everything down. You'll thank yourself later.
Work Pro Bono
Get comfortable with practicing as a lawyer outside of the work given to you by the firm by doing some pro bono work.
If you adopt these 10 tips early on you will be well on your way to having a successful legal career.