One of the most challenging aspects of becoming a new lawyer is often overlooked. Whether you are going to work at a firm, a legal organization, in government, or in any professional capacity, new attorneys must be ready for a variety of interactions with co-workers or clients around the office, and with other professionals and community leaders at social gatherings and marketing events. These interactions call for personable, knowledgeable, and quick-thinking dialogue, and they are an important part of being a new lawyer. They also can be challenging, especially for those who have not had a full-time job before law school and have never experienced office culture and interactions in professional settings.
To prepare for this challenge, don’t focus only on the academic classes offered in law school. Pursue opportunities to become well-rounded. Study abroad, positions on journals, and clinical programs all allow students to step out of the classroom and interact with others in the community. Since so much of law school is focused on the individual student, learning how to communicate effectively with others and work as part of a team is integral to making the most of your career. To be comfortable in positions of leadership and in the role of advocate before you graduate gives you real-world skills.
As an extra plus, these positions are also great for building a résumé and for talking points in job interviews. Because these unique opportunities come around only after your first year of law school, I disagree with the call to cut law school education back to two years. Three years allow students time to take the classes they need and want, while also gaining real-world experience that will help them as they step from the role of student to that of professional.
Heather K. Murphy, associate (pending admission) at Bressler, Amery & Ross P.C. in New York, New York.