You have spent year after year relentlessly studying to become a lawyer. At the end of your course, you had your eyes firmly focused on getting into a law firm as soon as the graduation ceremony was over. If you have managed to get your foot in the door of the legal sector, you’ve won already, but that’s only half the battle.
After getting your first job with a law firm, you have a probation period of around three months where you can show senior management what you’re capable of. In that time, there’s a list of things you must do to keep your bosses on side, including but not limited to:
- Getting to work on time
- Managing your time in the office effectively
- Being friendly and approachable
- Sticking to the job description
- Keeping up to date with developments in law and the legal sector
All of this is necessary to maximise your chances of succeeding in your new role. However, to really stand out amongst your colleagues, it pays dividends to become an expert in a particular field. So, how can this be done?
Pick a niche
Get to know what it is your law firm actually specialises in. This should be done before your first day at work. In fact, it’s worth picking a niche while you’re studying to make yourself seem like more of an expert. It should be a topic that few people actually know about.
If you’re one of just a handful of lawyers who know about a certain area of law, it maximises the chances of clients coming to you for help. Divorce law is one niche area that requires specialist knowledge. To become proficient in divorce law, you need patience, people skills and in-depth knowledge of how to divide assets between couples.
To gain this knowledge, it takes a huge amount of research. Find the relevant textbooks and websites, look for cases where divorce law is relevant in the news and look at sharpening up your technique when dealing with clients looking to separate from one another. Law news websites including Law Gazette are worth reading for a few minutes each day.
When it comes to communication with clients, it’s worthwhile to show some empathy. In doing so, you’re proving to each client that you care and that their interests are what matter to you. As a lawyer, your job is to get the best possible resolution to a case, whether it’s around divorces, family disputes or a subject that is more obscure.
A friendly approach is imperative, from the first phone call or email you receive right through to the court case. On the subject of customer service, it’s worth making an effort for each client, even if it takes working long, unsociable hours. By going beyond the call of duty, you’re showing clients that you’re making an effort, something your bosses will surely recognise.
Get it right
Whatever case you’re working on, you need to double-check the laws and read through the small print before each trip to the courts or meeting with clients. Even the tiniest mistake could undo all of your good work. If, say, you’ve used the wrong year for a piece of legislation around divorce law, it could work against you in court, maximising the chances of your client coming away empty-handed.
Cross-referencing each piece of law is a must. If you find one fact on a law website, find it on another and see if they both match. If not, don’t use it in your case. Great attention to detail is a must for any successful lawyer; showing that you have it in spades will catch the eye of your boss.
If you’re a specialist in international law, check legislation for a subject in the relevant countries. It’s likely that laws in one country will differ significantly from those in another; the internet is your friend for this particular area.
What you need
In conclusion, you need to do a few things to make a splash in your first job as a lawyer. Be professional at all times, find a niche section of law and become an expert in it, have great people skills and double-check everything you find at each stage of your case. Doing all that should help you to have a long and successful law career.