There are almost 1.4 million lawyers in the United States.
And, according to the same source, that figure represents a 15.2% increase in active attorneys versus 10 years ago.
Clearly, that’s a lot of people living the lawyer lifestyle. Now, for old-timers, it’s old news. They’ve been at it for years and know the ropes. They’ve experienced all the trials (literally…), tribulations, stresses, and successes. They know how to handle them and look after themselves.
But for newly qualified lawyers, the lifestyle (and how to contend with it) to come is more of a mystery.
We wanted to help. What are some of the best practices for ensuring a long, happy and successful career as an attorney?
Keep reading to find out 8 of them.
1. Look After Yourself
What’s the first rule of law?
Here’s a clue: it’s probably not what you got taught at Law School.
It’s this: you absolutely have to prioritize your health and wellbeing. That’s right. Look, we know, you’re newly qualified and chomping at the bit to get cracking. You’ve set clear, well-defined goals and are all set to be a partner by 40 years old.
Okay. Great. But slow down a little. It’s no good making partner if you’re a highly-strung, friendless, emotional-wreck of an individual when you get there. Hard work is one thing. But hard work at the expense of your health and sanity is a different story.
Build into your routine anything you can to sustain your wellbeing. Exercise, meditation, sleep(!), a social life, and so on…it’s about work-life balance, people! You’ll feel great, enjoy your work (and life) more, and probably do a better job as well.
2. Work Reasonable Hours
Here’s another related suggestion for your lawyer lifestyle:
Don’t go overboard at the office. The occasional long day and weekend of overtime may be required of you. But, wherever possible, stick to the typical working week. Working 60 hours instead of 40 doesn’t make you a martyr. It’ll just make you unhappy in the long run.
It’s not easy. You’re a go-getter and want to go get ahead. Strike a balance though. As we said, there’s little point meeting your goals if you hate the process and become unhappy along the way.
3. Don’t Expect Perfection
Ah, so you’re a perfectionist!
It’s no surprise, really. After all, look where it’s got you! You’re a newly qualified attorney. That’s a major achievement and one that your pursuit of perfection will have aided in.
Keep that diligence and effort up. It’ll stand you in good stead as you go. But expect to fail a fair amount too. You could be a lawyer at this law firm or that law firm- it doesn’t matter. You will not be perfect. You’ll write a rubbish brief, you’ll mess up in a meeting, miss important telephone calls and maybe be a laughing stock every now and again.
It’s normal. You’re still learning and perfection is impossible. Go easy on yourself.
4. Find Your Niche
You may already specialize in a certain field of law.
Try honing that expertise even further. Become the go-to attorney for a particular niche within it. Look for areas that you find interesting and that are specific as well.
You become a commodity in the process. And that equates to value. Being an expert will help develop your reputation (more on that next), and increase the demand for your services. Your boss will love you for it, you can charge more, and you’ll never be short of future job opportunities.
5. Focus On Reputation
Your reputation is everything.
It’s your job to grow yours in the industry. You need to have it at the forefront of your mind from day one. It feeds into all aspects of work: be diligent, available, conscientious, on-time, and so on. Network at every opportunity, be on LinkedIn, start a website, find any way possible to build your name and brand.
Be wary though. It doesn’t take much to tarnish a reputation. A 40-year stellar career as a leading lawyer can be destroyed with one bad move. Look after yours in any way possible.
6. Don’t Overspend Unnecessarily
Be sensible with your money when you first qualify.
It can actually be surprisingly tight for brand new lawyers.
Don’t go flashing the cash unnecessarily. Sure, treat yourself every now and again. But treat yourself with a short trip away, or a meal out every week. Not with a brand spanking new set of wheels, or latest tech gadgets. You might think you’re showing off or need to ‘set the right image’. In reality, you look like a twerp.
Instead, use your money wisely. Invest in your growth as a lawyer. Spend money on things that will facilitate your burgeoning career. That might include forking out occasionally on people you think may advance you/your career in future.
7. ‘Forget’ the Student Loan
Your student loan will feel like a dark shadow looming over your shoulder.
Don’t let it intimate you. It will go away soon enough. Many new lawyers get obsessed with paying it off. Every waking moment is spent conjuring ideas to paying it down quicker or imagining the glory you’ll feel when it’s gone.
That won’t help the situation. It’ll just stress you out. Even worse, all that worry means less time devoted to work-related money-making activities that will actually raise the money to pay it off!
8. Never Stop Learning
There’s always learning to be done.
Even ancient attorneys should seek to constantly enhance their knowledge and understanding of their profession. It’s the only way to stay relevant, up to speed, and in demand.
New lawyers have more learning to do that most. You might be tired of it. After all, you’ve just qualified. But now you need to apply yourself even harder to learn your craft.
Time to Enjoy Your Lawyer Lifestyle
There you have it: the best practices for enjoying your new lawyer lifestyle!
The number of attorneys in the US is increasing every year! More and more attorneys are qualifying all the time. Hopefully, this article has provided all the information required for ‘newbies’ to excel in the profession.
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