Very exciting post today! The fantastic Desiree Moore, author of the ABA best seller Thrive — A New Lawyer’s Guide to Law Firm Practice returns with ten tips for career success.
But — that’s not all. You’ve also got the chance to win an autographed copy of Thrive AND a coaching session with Desiree, where you can pick her brain about all of your career dilemmas.
Read on for details! Here’s Desiree:
If you are a law student in the current economic and legal environment, you’ve likely heard at least some negativity surrounding your soon-to-be chosen profession.
- “Law school doesn’t prepare you for the practice of law.”
- “Jobs are few and far between.”
- “Those who do land jobs out of law school are dissatisfied in the long term.”
Whether those statements are true or not, you’re fairly deep in it now, and, unless you plan on changing course, there is no sense in focusing exclusively on the negative. Instead, whether you are a 1L, 2L or 3L, you should be thinking proactively about your legal career and about specific ways you can get ahead.
Despite all the negativity and noise, what will YOU need to do between now and when you graduate to find a job and ultimately a rewarding, successful early legal career?
This question may be difficult to answer without guidance. And in fact, it is the subject of my new book Thrive — A New Lawyer’s Guide to Law Firm Practice. In Thrive, I talk in detail about your mindset — taking a proactive approach to your legal career — so that you hit the ground running, stand apart from your peers, and are successful from day one.
10 Tips for a Bold Legal Career
In this post, I’d like to share ten key points from Thrive, to get you thinking about life after law school and to energize you to take a proactive, emboldened approach to your legal career. These ten points will form a solid foundation for initiating a successful legal career.
- Inspiration: In order to have a successful legal career, you need guidance and inspiration above all. The list that follows (and the text of Thrive) is designed to provide just that. Whether here or elsewhere, seek out your legal inspiration. Remember why you went to law school and where you intend to take your legal career. Do not lose sight of this. To be successful in your early legal career and beyond, you will want to do more than show up, act eagerly, and not get fired. You will want to take your career head on, with direction and purpose. Are you in?
- Professionalism: As lawyers, we are professionals. Law school is, by definition, a professional school and it is meant to produce professionals. Coming into your firm, you will be expected to act like a professional. And acting like a professional is an important way to get ahead. Demonstrating that you are a professional manifests in a number of ways. Your attire, demeanor, and interpersonal skills all bear on your professionalism.
- Office Demeanor: As a new lawyer, you will be well served by expressing enthusiasm at the prospect of working on any case, deal, or project that comes across your desk. You should be genuinely curious about the work you are given and you should be excited to take it on. Enthusiastic lawyers are more pleasant to work with, and in turn get more work.
- Mentorship: Finding a mentor is one of the most important things you will do in your career. Professionals with strong mentors and career advisors have higher job satisfaction and a greater likelihood of success in their careers. Given the significance of mentorship, you should be discerning and selective in choosing your mentors. Over the course of your career, it is a good idea to have several mentors, each of whom can contribute something unique to your career development. Choose mentors early in your career and strive to be a mentor for someone else down the line.
- Time Management: When you begin your career, err on the side of starting your day early. You will inevitably require more time to get your work done than the attorneys around you and you will impress your colleagues by being the first one in the office in the morning.
- Working With Staff: Take several months to observe your administrative assistant’s strengths and weaknesses. From there, devise a plan for working together going forward.
- Working With Attorneys: Never forgo the opportunity to make an affirmative, positive impression!
- Networking/Marketing: Building your book of contacts is an easy and effective networking and marketing tool. Anytime you meet anyone, whether it is a prospective employer, an opposing counsel, an expert witness, a co-counsel, a court reporter, or a low level employee at a corporation, input their information into your contacts with some detailed reminders about who they are. Find reasons to reach out from time to time — consider sending them an article or an invitation to a free event. You never know when someone is going to be able to help you in your career.
- Social Media: You should not, under any circumstances, speak badly about your firm, your colleagues or your work on social media sites. Not only is this unprofessional, it will reflect badly on you, curtail career opportunities, and create a problematic paper trail for you in the event your job is ever on the line.
- Health: While hard work and dedication are admirable — and indeed required of legal professionals — maintaining good health is essential, too. Without it, being a top practitioner, or even meeting minimum expectations in your practice, will be difficult, if not impossible. Focus on “self-care” daily as an integral part of your career.
Success in a legal career depends on so many factors, including your mindset and approach to your career.
No matter what else is going on around you, thinking about how to put your best foot forward, reading up on ways to do so (for example, by reading Thrive!), and dedicating yourself to the idea of being the best lawyer you can be, is a good start.
Best of luck! I’m rooting for you!
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Thanks, Desiree. Excellent advice, and congrats on being a best-selling author!
Now for the Contest
Want a free autographed copy of Thrive and the chance to talk with Desiree one-on-one about your career dilemma?
To enter, just leave a comment on this post with a career question you’re struggling with. (Make sure your email address is valid, so we can contact you if you win.) Or you can Tweet your entry to @GirlsGuideToLS with the hashtag #THRIVE. Or visit our Facebook page and leave a comment there.
Don’t delay! Entries will be accepted through January 31, 2013 (midnight Pacific time).
(Full contest rules here.)