Student to Lawyer – 20 Tips for a Successful Transition

Excerpted from LAWPRO Magazine, Student Issue #1, 2012

There isn’t a simple magic formula for mapping out a career in law. You will make some decisions on where you would like to go, but there are many things outside your control which will impact on where you will end up. Factors such as economic conditions, personal circumstances, where you articled and even a bit of luck will affect the career path you will follow.

This article outlines some tips and self-assessment questions that will help you find your way to a satisfying and successful legal career.

1. Ask yourself what makes sense for you. This is a very personal question. Be honest – very honest. You will be happier and more successful if you can find the place where you best fit in. Do your best to figure out where that is.

2. Review the options. . . . A job at a large firm may mean a bigger salary, but also in some cases a bigger time commitment. Some lawyers enjoy and thrive in the big firm environment, others do not. One-third of the lawyers in private practice work in firms with just 2-10 lawyers. . . .

5. Are you ready for sole practice? Ask yourself whether you possess some or all of the skills listed below. Rate your skills by circling the appropriate number, using a scale of 1-5. . . .

11. Get networking. . . . Many law students initially think they do not have “contacts” in the legal profession. Don’t sell yourself short. If you are active in social media you already have a network that probably includes people from the legal world or people that are connected to people in the legal world. If you aren’t on social media, you can create a network with minimal effort. For example, see page 18 for an article about how to get started on LinkedIn. . . .

13. Getting delegated tasks done right. . . . As an articling student and new lawyer you can count on having many tasks delegated to you. Here are some tips to help you maximize the learning opportunities that delegated tasks present and to make sure the tasks delegated to you are successfully completed . . . .

16. Make time for marketing . . . . Some lawyers find rain- making very natural and easy, others struggle with it, and some are oblivious to the need to market their services. In today’s competitive environment, marketing and client development are essential. Marketing legal services does not lead to instant results. Not everyone needs legal services at the moment. Good marketing does pay off, but generally only slowly and with a steady effort over the long haul. Therefore is it critical that you market yourself on an ongoing basis, even when business is good. . . .

19. Take care of yourself . . . . At times you will find the demands of articling stressful, as well as physically and emotionally
exhausting. That likely won’t change once you become a lawyer. You can count on being exposed to high levels of stress on a daily basis. . . .

[Read the full LAWPRO article at http://www.practicepro.ca/lawpromag/20Steps-for-a-successful-transition.pdf

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