5 Career Building Tips for Younger Lawyers

Previous 30 Under 30 winners & finalists have 5 tips to share with rising legal stars to give them a competitive edge as their law career picks up speed.

1. When it Comes to Making Mistakes…

Eugene McAuley, energy and resources category winner from McCarthy Durie Lawyers points out that mistakes happen to everyone now and then. He suggests the best response is acting with integrity; own-up and take responsibility for the mistake.

“Inevitably, the lashing you will get for a mistake is far less than the lashing you will get if you try to cover it up. More often than not, you will find that your clients will be understanding and will appreciate your honesty”, he said.

Mitchell Thorp from Baker & McKenzie, winner in the banking & finance category, says mistakes are learning opportunities in disguise, so don’t fear them.

“Every mistake is capable of being fixed, just with varying degrees of difficulty, so don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It’s often said that mistakes present the best opportunity to learn… so embrace them when they happen so that you don’t make the same mistake twice,” he advised.

2. Don’t Under-Estimate yourself

Mr McAuley also advises younger lawyers to be confident in their abilities as though they lack experience, they most likely possess more expertise than they realise.

“You might be entering the profession feeling like you've not yet been born yet and, mostly, you’ll be right. But the years and years of study and academia will have, theoretically, equipped you with what you need to know. You will find that, quite remarkably, almost all of it has some real-world application,” he said.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Mr Thorp says younger lawyers should not hesitate to ask questions around the context of their work.

"Nobody expects you to know everything, or anything as a graduate lawyer, so make sure that when you’re given a task, you have a good understanding of what the issues are, and why those issues have arisen in the first place… You need to understand why it is you've been asked to do the work in the first place and have a grasp of the bigger picture,” said Mr Thorp.

4. Get into Extra-Curricular Activities 

Former Minter Ellison employee, Ajay Kandhar’s, winner in the category of workplace relations, advises younger lawyers to get involved in outside-of-work activities which can build valuable skills applicable across your professional life.

 "Figure out what you're passionate about outside of work and seek out roles that will enable you to develop your leadership, project management, communication and relationship-building skills. These are invaluable skills for any legal practitioner and the professional networks you'll form will stand you in good stead for years to come," advised Mr Kandhar.

5. Keep Up-to-Date

Jessica Norgard, from Ashurst & winner in the intellectual property category, points out lawyers should stay on top of trends and developments in their field to ensure they can offer clients the best advice possible.

“By keeping tabs on new developments across the industry you will be able to anticipate further new trends and developments and can be at the forefront of providing advice in emerging areas,” she suggested.

This article was originally published on LawJobs.com.au