Five Tips for Navigating Firm Life as a New or Young Lawyer

The Young Lawyer Editorial Board presents five main tips to assist attorneys starting their careers:

Become Comfortable With the Unknown

While the first few years of starting in a law firm can feel overwhelming, especially for those attorneys who started their careers during the pandemic. Young lawyers may feel “imposter syndrome” but you’ll have to remember that not knowing much when you start is okay, and just focus on producing your best work and learning as much as possible as an associate.

Understand That Mistakes Happen

Tell someone immediately when you make a mistake – the worst thing you can do is try to cover it up. This is a disservice to your team and your client. Communicate with the partner and tell them what happened. They will respect you for acknowledging your faults and taking accountability—no matter how upset they may be at first.

Be Humble

Have confidence in yourself, but not arrogance. Even if you were top of your law school class or editor of the law review, those accomplishments mean less in a practice. Your responsibility is to learn will lead to a healthier dynamic with the partners. 

Ask Questions and Demonstrate Interest

Be the associate who is interested in the work the firm does and understands the business model. Be proactive and ask questions, and help identify issues. Do not wait for a partner to come give you direction, but collaborate with the partner on the next step. This will help partners trust you more with more work and responsibilities, and help you further yourself in your career.

Be Available, But Set Boundaries

Make yourself reliable, seek out work, volunteer to fill in for a court appearance. These simple acts will help demonstrate to the firm that you are reliable and dependable.  However, avoid people pleasing and set boundaries if you are drowning in work. Partners will help accommodate you and appreciate that you know your boundaries.

Are you interested in more advice by The Young Lawyer Editorial Board? Read more in this article.

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