The legal field can seem very tough and unwelcoming. If you’re new here, you should hope for a trusted confidant and mentor who will show you the ins and outs of your firm. There is never enough help though! Have a look at these 5 secrets of a novice lawyer, from one lawyer to another.
Focus on what you love
As a law student, you must have a preference for one specific field. Whether it’s business law or criminal defense, you are probably settled for something you enjoy. If not, this is your sign to do that. Choose something you actually care about. Chasing the money or settling for something that seems easier will come to bite you in a few years. If you choose something you love, you will have an easier time going to work every day.
The same goes for clients. In the beginning, you can’t really choose who you take on as a client. You probably have to take on as many as you can and do your best to build a reputation for yourself. However, when you start to grow, you’ll find that you can’t save everyone. Learn that early on and focus on clients whose cases are within your area of expertise. At the end of the day, that will also give you the ability to charge premium prices; not to mention, doing something you care about is much less boring.
Many people will tell you to avoid software, but that’s poor advice. Don’t be afraid of technology; it’s there to serve you! Document review software is incredibly helpful when you’re going through paperwork. As a lawyer, you’ll have heaps of it, and it’s nearly unavoidable. Software can help you quickly identify mistakes and inconsistencies in your contracts.
To take it one step further, invest in contract management software. It will almost entirely take over the documentation process, save you lots of time, and minimize risk. We will all be moving to cloud-based solutions soon enough, so why wait? If you learn how to use software now, you’ll be ahead of everyone else.
Work on your writing skills
Writing briefs, memos, and emails is nothing like writing a novel or even an article, but it’s writing nonetheless. Let’s just say you won’t need to get a degree in journalism, but you’ll be writing quite a lot. With writing, much like with everything else, practice makes perfect. Brush up on your skills and try to write whenever you can, even if it’s just an email.
Luckily, in this day and age, there are templates for everything. You should make use of them! It will save you lots of time and help avoid mistakes. However, some things will still require rewriting or writing from scratch. There is no software that can do these tedious tasks for you, so prepare yourself for some legal writing!
And, more writing! Even though taking notes is often advised to novices, trust that experienced lawyers take notes too. It’s hard to keep so much information in your head. As a lawyer, you will have a lot to memorize and come back to. Don’t stress, just write it down. Even if it’s a 5-minute phone call. If anything of importance was said, you should write it down.
Software apps can help you keep track of your notes. Transfer all of your handwritten notes into an app and keep them all in one place. Then, you can easily come back to any note and search for a specific piece of writing using the search bar. Even small law firm software has the capability to keep track of your notes.
Time management is crucial to any professional, especially in the legal field. As a novice lawyer, you might underestimate the importance of time management and think that you have time for everything. The truth is, you don’t. There are only 24 hours in a day, out of which, 8 should be dedicated to work. Though being responsive and taking on more tasks will help you grow in the firm, you need to learn the principles of time management.
For starters, your time is extremely valuable. You will start to notice it as you grow your client base. Suddenly, you won’t have time to call every client individually and check-in. Evaluate early on how much you value your time and how much it’s actually worth. Delegate tasks to those whose time is worth less than yours. If you can’t afford to take an unscheduled call, don’t!
Legal software can be of great help with this. Use the calendar feature to schedule your time by the minute. Alerts and reminders will let you know before a meeting or due date. You can even bill your clients using software too.
If you’re new in the legal field, let us give you a warm welcome! The best way to pick things up is to try. Practice makes perfect! Be smart and use the aforementioned tips to kickstart your career.