Legal Guide

10 Mistakes Beginner Lawyers Make

Lawyer or attorney is considered a very high-stress job. The stress of passing your exams combined with the stress of looking for a job can make your first few years on the job really difficult. You already know that stress leads to silly mistakes that can easily be avoided.

Not stressing is easier said than done. As a new lawyer, you’re bound to stress just a bit. It helps to be aware of some common mistakes beginners make and do your best to avoid them.

Not asking for help

As a new lawyer, you will need help. Your education did not prepare you for everything. Besides, there are best practices you can learn from your colleagues. Your drive to solve problems alone is admirable, but you need to be able to identify when you’re starting to waste time. Ask for help; it only takes a few minutes!

Not educating themselves

Your education doesn’t end when you graduate! Use your “free” time to stay up to date with the legal field. Study the legislation and the 2018 US Code, for example, which is a collection of laws that are relevant now. Educating yourself is a great way to get ahead.

Wasting time

Long hours don’t always equal productivity. You can sit at your desk for 8 hours browsing the news and checking your messages, or you can spend 2 hours actually working. Spending more time at your desk means nothing if the time is not used wisely.

Not admitting to making a mistake

Everybody makes mistakes, especially at the beginning; it’s expected. The longer you let your mistake go unnoticed, the more time and money you can lose. It’s ok to make a mistake, but it’s never ok to lie about it. Let your supervisor know that something went wrong as soon as possible, and you can work on fixing it together.

Getting too close with their colleagues

Everybody likes making friends. Being on good terms with your colleagues can create a pleasant work environment. But don’t get too comfortable! Your colleague might misread your actions, thus creating tension at the office. Keep your personal relationships outside of the workplace.

Identifying a timeframe/cost for a project too soon

With time, you will be able to set a fixed price and deadline off the top of your head by just glancing at a project. Right now, you need to take your time to understand the deliverables that a project has in order to provide a time frame and price. Failing to do so can easily result in undercharging or agreeing to a deadline that you can’t meet.

Rejecting technology

Most law firms use technology on a daily basis. Learning how to work new software might be annoying, but it is necessary. Try to see the benefit of using technology in your practice and make the best of it.

Communicating poorly

A lawyer’s communication skills are their bread and butter, even if they are communicating internally. You should be able to communicate with your colleagues and other legal professionals outside of your firm with ease. It is also important to keep clients in the loop, and communicate regularly and openly.

Overlooking business development

If you want to grow as a lawyer, you need to understand the importance of business development early on. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have, right? You won’t magically make partner and get introduced to the business aspect of things. It is your job to be proactive and get acquainted with business development in your firm.

Not taking criticism seriously

Criticism sucks, even if they’re nice about it. It can make you feel awful. However, all you can do is learn from it. You won’t always receive criticism in a nice form. You have to accept it, and show that you are willing to learn and grow.

Don’t spend too much time worrying about every little detail, but keep an eye out for these mistakes. As long as you can show growth, initiative, and willingness to change, you will go far!

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