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Six Bits of Advice for the New Class of Lawyers

Andrew Farrington

Six Bits of Advice for the New Class of Lawyers
Cecilie_Arcurs via iStock

This October I will celebrate completing my first year of practice. To memorialize this moment and hopefully provide some guidance to the new class of lawyers, here are six small bits of advice that I gleaned from my time as a first-year associate.

Say “Yes”

Take on challenging, substantive assignments, show up to networking events, help draft client advisories and legal articles. Say “yes” to such things, especially when it feels challenging or even a little scary because these experiences will help you grow and stand out.

Ask Questions, Many Questions

I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before, but ask questions, even if the question seems silly. For example, filing a notice of appearance isn’t taught in most law schools. You could either spend hours Googling how to do something as simple as this, or you could ask someone. Chances are, someone can answer your question faster than you can research the answer.

Double—No—Triple-Check Everything

A lawyer is only as good as their attention to detail. So, check everything twice, maybe even three times, because the time to do that will always be significantly less than the time it would take you to redo it.

Be Responsive and Show Your Work

A great professional relationship with your supervisor begins with trust. You can build trust by being responsive and showing your work. Don’t wait a day or more to respond to emails. Even if you don’t have an answer, let your supervisor know you saw their email and are working on it. Show your work. For example, if you can’t find the answer to a research question, tell your supervisor what search terms and resources you used and walk them through your process. Do this and you’ll show your supervisor that you’re capable, diligent, and trustworthy.

Find a Mentor

A great way to avoid silly mistakes is by seeking advice from someone who was once in your shoes. Your mentor should be someone more senior, who you can trust, and would like to emulate. Most lawyers are happy to take on a mentee and having someone in your corner who’s committed to your development will help tremendously during your first year.


You’re going to make mistakes, sometimes you’re going to work long hours, and many times you’re going to feel stressed, so make sure to find time for you. Not just when you’re on vacation (and yes, take your vacations), but every day. Find time to do something you love and that will bring you joy. In my experience, a happy and refreshed lawyer is an effective lawyer.

Though fairly simple bits of advice, they can help tremendously as you begin your career. Good luck!