by Lori A. Frio, Esq.
Find a Mentor. Success in law depends on finding and maintaining positive mentor relationships. To get better, you have to find better attorneys and emulate what they do. Identify an attorney who mirrors what you want to be. Is there an attorney you admire at your firm? If so, make an effort to get to know them and work with them. Ask yourself, what do they do that you’re not doing? Just as importantly, what don’t they do, that you’re doing?
Do not be Afraid to ask for Help. Young attorneys are typically ambitious and confident by nature. While this can be great, it can also be destructive. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, do not be afraid to seek advice from another attorney about how to best tackle a problem. There is most likely another attorney who has dealt with the same problem and can provide guidance.
Excel at the Basics. Work at crafting your lawyering skills. Do not wait until evaluations for feedback. Seek negative and positive feedback about your performance. Ask assigning attorneys what they expect of you and meet your deadlines. Arrive on time and stay until the job is done. And, pay attention to detail.
Write for the Right Audience. Writing for the right audience is very important. Before starting any project, make sure you understand what is needed and determine expectations. The key is to look at models. If assigned a task, ask the assigning attorney for an example of what he or she likes. Another option is to view sample forms on local bar association websites.
Make an Impact at Events for Your Industry. Attend networking events that will be full of people who care about the industry you are in and the issues you are trying to solve. Consider becoming an expert on a subject matter. The easiest way to achieve this is by creating content on the subject matter you are interested in. This can be done by blogging, speaking at or hosting events, joining local bar association committees, getting published and sharing your ideas with others. Work towards obtaining a leadership position in the organizations you are part of.
Never Stop Learning. Strive to become a better lawyer every day. The law is constantly evolving, so make sure you are too. Consider attending an extra CLE seminar or two during the year to perfect your professional craft or learn something new. Determine an area of law that you would like to master and educate yourself. If you do not have the time to attend more seminars, consider listening to CLE tapes in your car.
Keep Balance in Your Life. Most young attorneys are so busy advocating for others that they forget to advocate for themselves. Creating a work/life balance is so important in your career. Remember to set and communicate your boundaries immediately upon beginning work. But, also let your co-workers and managers know where you will put in extra time to ensure all deadlines are met. Organize your work life and personal life so you have a clear picture of your obligations both inside and outside the office.