Lawyers perform a valuable role, especially as the law today is intertwined with every aspect of our society. Lawyers work for clients ranging from individuals and businesses to government agencies,and are involved in representing the client in legal disputes. They represent theirclients’ interests and are responsible for filing legal documents such ascontracts, deeds, and wills. Lawyers typically specialize in one or more areas ranging from criminal law, corporate law, taxes, family law, and litigation.
The basic qualification for an associate is a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an ABA-accredited law school. Prospective lawyers need to take the LSAT after completing their bachelor’s degree as a precursor to gaining admission to a law school. Earning the JD typically takes three years. In addition, most states have their own bar exams to obtain a license to practice. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when starting your legal career.
Understand the culture
Making an effort to understand and blend into the culture at your company will make the process of settling in much easier, and your peers and superiors will accept you quicker. This includes learning what to wear, the hours you really need to work, and whose opinions matter most. Talk to people and find out common mistakes to avoid.
Seek a mentor
Your success ata law firm or any other profession depends on finding and developing strong mentor relationships, both over the short term and long term. Finding a suitable and willing mentor is the most important step you can take when you are starting your career. It is best to let this develop organically, rather than forcing yourself on people.
Always seek feedback
As a new associate, you will often find work piling on your plate from different attorneys with little or no feedback. The fact that they are giving you work means your work is good, but it always helps to ask for feedback. Jennifer Douglas now a barrister, also holds adoctorate and is actively involved with fundraising for cancer and AIDSthrough the Gede Foundation, which she founded. She recalls her associate days and mentions that seeking constant feedback was her way of benchmarking her performance.
Write for the correct audience
This is one area that often gets new lawyers in trouble. A lawyer who asks you to write a three-page memo will be less than thrilled with an effort that reads like a law review article. The key here is to look for models and, before writing, ask for samples of required content. This gives you a good idea on what and how to write.
Draw the line with gossip
This is applicable to all companies where you work. Don’t get involved in company gossip, especially if you are a new associate. Likewise, don’t disclose any of your previous indiscretions as this will spread like wildfire, often with salacious embellishments. Use your judgment, and keep a distance from gossip and office politics.
The road to the bar is long but rewarding, and you can use the tips above to get a smooth start in the world of law. Good luck with your legal career.