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November 22, 2016 Practice Points

Tips for Transitioning from Law Student to Attorney

Practical insight and advice for recent law-school graduates.

By Cashida Okeke

In a recent article published by the New York Law Journal, author and attorney Jacob Oksman offers practical insight and advice for recent law-school graduates transitioning to jobs as full-time attorneys. Oksman highlights the major differences between life as a law student and as a practicing attorney while offering advice for adjusting to new work schedules, managing time efficiently, and preparing sound and useful work product. Some tips include the following:

1) Efficiency. One of the more critical components factoring into success during the transition to practicing attorney is learning efficient time-management skills. Catching up on reading during breaks in between classes may have proven successful in law school, but as an attorney, many of your assignments will involve new tasks in new areas of the law. Allow yourself time to become intricately familiar with the facts of a case and expect a learning curve, but also note that clients value efficiency. Asking questions of more senior attorneys may help get the job done faster. 

2) Work Product. Similar to preparing exams for multiple law-school professors, each attorney in a law firm has their own set of expectations for how you should style your final work product. To ensure that your work product is well received, take time to learn each attorney’s, and even client’s, expectations and be prepared to tailor your work product accordingly. 

3) Collaboration. Oksman also encourages new associates to not only take advantage of firm resources but to embrace opportunities to collaborate with colleagues as well. While studying for a corporate-tax exam in law school may have been a successful independent venture, working in a law firm is a collaborative effort. Be intentional about getting to know and work with your colleagues. Also, review the final work product to see how your efforts may have been incorporated.

Cashida Okeke is an associate at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP in Columbia, South Carolina.

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