Lawyers offer graduates 25 tips for career success

Law school graduates embarking on their careers should seek out continual learning opportunities and be willing to take risks, according to a survey of 350 lawyers at law firms and legal departments in the United States and Canada. The research was developed by Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing and consulting services firm, and conducted by an independent research firm.

Lawyers were asked, "What is the single best piece of career advice that you've ever received and continue to use today?" Among their professional development tips:

1. "Choose a career that allows you to learn as you grow."

2. "Take risks and open yourself up to possibilities."

3. "Find a firm that has the same qualities and priorities as you do."

4. "Look for challenging work."

5. "Be willing to change if necessary. That includes location and your job itself."

6. "Every experience you have is a building block to the next level."

7. "Be self-motivated and strive to succeed."

8. "Try to learn as much as you can. Don't be afraid to take on new assignments. Expand your knowledge."

9. "When you quit learning, move on."

10. "Do not be afraid to ask for what you want."

11. "Be collaborative."

12. "Treat all lawyers and staff as if they were the clients."

Lawyers also stressed the importance of client relationship management, offering the following advice:

13. "Treat each client like it's your first one."

14. "Listen more than you talk."

15. "Take a step back and look at all sides of a problem."

16. "It takes less time to do something right then it does to explain why you did it wrong."

17. "Business development is a marathon, not a sprint."

"Newly minted associates can successfully launch a legal career by managing challenges and setting strategic goals, obtaining a mentor and building professional networks," said Charles Volkert, senior district president of Robert Half Legal.

Volkert added that to deliver ever-improving value on the job, lawyers should volunteer for assignments where they can expand not only their legal knowledge but also develop business acumen. "By undertaking challenging projects, associates are able to learn new skills, build relationships and improve their visibility within the organization," he noted.

Lawyers also underscored the importance of achieving performance excellence. Responses include:

18. "Take every opportunity to watch senior lawyers do what they do."

19. "Stay close to good people."

20. "Find a mentor."

21. "Details matter."

22. "Don't go to people with problems, go to people with solutions."

23. "Learn from your mistakes."

24. "You can never be afraid to make a hard decision and regret making it."

And finally, a number of lawyers also offered wisdom that is fundamental to the practice of law: Always act with honesty and integrity.

Published: Fri, May 19, 2017

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