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6 Tips and opportunities for new lawyers

6 Tips and opportunities for new lawyers

Qualifying as a lawyer is a tough gig. University and law school courses create a legacy of student debt, and good organizations have stiff competition for employment. When you land your first position, there’s pressure to make a good impression while also moving from academic study to practical application. Before long, you start thinking about how you’re going to progress through the career stages of a typical lawyer, maybe becoming a partner in a law firm of the Chief Legal Officer in the industry.
Beyond the usual advice to work hard and adopt a life-long learning habit, there are things you can do to thrive without sacrificing your quality of life.

1. Find a niche.

With a few exceptions, life doesn’t favor generalist lawyers. Try a few things to see what suits you before committing to an area of expertise, but then go deep on a narrow field. Deep expertise is scarce, respected, and valued. When you go deep, your peers are less like competitors and more like collaborators. A commitment to depth makes you less likely to be caught in the race to the bottom. Routine work creates pressure on fees, unreasonable timescales, and a median quality that is merely adequate.

2. Do work for clients that care.

This applies to law firms and corporate legal teams. Seek out clients who value legal input, who would miss your work if they couldn’t access it. They exist in all areas of law. Do your utmost for such clients because they will recognize your efforts (even if you are less experienced), and they will seek you out next time. Winning work from clients who care means more time on your vocation and less time on more tedious methods of rain-making.

3. Innovate.

You can innovate even if you work for an organization that is slow to innovate (it will be more impactful). Don’t disregard the market norms and disrupt for the sake of it – that’s disrespectful, and you might break more than you fix. Notice and then understand why things are done, and then look for incremental ways to achieve the same or better results in other ways. You will stand out as a person who can think independently (better still, interdependently). Borrow ideas. Often, the lawyer ‘on the other side will be a source of new ideas, particularly in cross-border work.

4. Seek out the best tools.

Artisans do not use mediocre tools, and they invest effort in learning the best techniques of using the tools at their disposal. Experts read the manuals to discover the features that are not obvious. Experts are not threatened by advances in technology – they use it to expand their results. Leading practitioners don’t wait for their organization to send them on a training course – they do their own research and invest in their skills.

5. Look for new developments.

A new lawyer in an organization primarily staffed with more experienced people will be at some disadvantage. New developments give you a chance to circumvent limited experience. In a new field of law, everybody is learning on the job. New fields of law are infrequent, but technology changes are not. Become an early adopter, especially if more experienced colleagues are too stretched. Many new solutions make it easy for individuals to take a free trial. You might have to use your home PC and dummy data to try something new – don’t breach your organization’s information security.

6. Combine a complementary skill.

Combining your legal training with another skill gives you an edge. Lawyers with coding experience have had a good run recently, but becoming proficient in coding is a non-trivial task. Some practitioners have added value in organizations where Legito is deployed, by learning how to deploy technology in quick-win projects that work in the real world. If one looks at the LegalTech space, it has provided interesting opportunities for lawyers. The intersection between law and technology will be fertile and exciting for the foreseeable future.

 

Written by Charles Drayson

Qualifying as a lawyer is a tough gig. University and law school courses create a legacy of student debt, and good organizations have stiff competition for employment. When you land your first position, there’s pressure to make a good impression while also moving from academic study to practical application. Before long, you start thinking about how you’re going to progress through the career stages of a typical lawyer, maybe becoming a partner in a law firm of the Chief Legal Officer in the industry.
Beyond the usual advice to work hard and adopt a life-long learning habit, there are things you can do to thrive without sacrificing your quality of life.

1. Find a niche.

With a few exceptions, life doesn’t favor generalist lawyers. Try a few things to see what suits you before committing to an area of expertise, but then go deep on a narrow field. Deep expertise is scarce, respected, and valued. When you go deep, your peers are less like competitors and more like collaborators. A commitment to depth makes you less likely to be caught in the race to the bottom. Routine work creates pressure on fees, unreasonable timescales, and a median quality that is merely adequate.

2. Do work for clients that care.

This applies to law firms and corporate legal teams. Seek out clients who value legal input, who would miss your work if they couldn’t access it. They exist in all areas of law. Do your utmost for such clients because they will recognize your efforts (even if you are less experienced), and they will seek you out next time. Winning work from clients who care means more time on your vocation and less time on more tedious methods of rain-making.

3. Innovate.

You can innovate even if you work for an organization that is slow to innovate (it will be more impactful). Don’t disregard the market norms and disrupt for the sake of it – that’s disrespectful, and you might break more than you fix. Notice and then understand why things are done, and then look for incremental ways to achieve the same or better results in other ways. You will stand out as a person who can think independently (better still, interdependently). Borrow ideas. Often, the lawyer ‘on the other side will be a source of new ideas, particularly in cross-border work.

4. Seek out the best tools.

Artisans do not use mediocre tools, and they invest effort in learning the best techniques of using the tools at their disposal. Experts read the manuals to discover the features that are not obvious. Experts are not threatened by advances in technology – they use it to expand their results. Leading practitioners don’t wait for their organization to send them on a training course – they do their own research and invest in their skills.

5. Look for new developments.

A new lawyer in an organization primarily staffed with more experienced people will be at some disadvantage. New developments give you a chance to circumvent limited experience. In a new field of law, everybody is learning on the job. New fields of law are infrequent, but technology changes are not. Become an early adopter, especially if more experienced colleagues are too stretched. Many new solutions make it easy for individuals to take a free trial. You might have to use your home PC and dummy data to try something new – don’t breach your organization’s information security.

6. Combine a complementary skill.

Combining your legal training with another skill gives you an edge. Lawyers with coding experience have had a good run recently, but becoming proficient in coding is a non-trivial task. Some practitioners have added value in organizations where Legito is deployed, by learning how to deploy technology in quick-win projects that work in the real world. If one looks at the LegalTech space, it has provided interesting opportunities for lawyers. The intersection between law and technology will be fertile and exciting for the foreseeable future.

 

Written by Charles Drayson

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