The first five years of a new lawyer’s practice can be a breeding ground for many mistakes. Bad habits and poor practices can quickly become ingrained in your behavior as you continue to grow as a lawyer. Aside from being a lawyer, reputation is also essential when working with clients and colleagues. Here are some common mistakes that lawyers make in their first five years.
- Not Asking For Help When Needed
One of the most common mistakes that lawyers make is not communicating the availability and limits of their workload. This can lead to missed deadlines and create a poor work ethic. It is also acceptable to ask more probing questions to the person who assigned the work to determine how to prioritize.
If you can’t finish the task in the time that you have given, it might be possible to extend the deadline. This can allow the assignor to look for other ways to complete the task. It can also help you delegate the work to colleagues that have availability.
One of the most important factors that new lawyers should consider when it comes to being a lawyer is learning from the people who have already been there. Senior lawyers often have a wealth of knowledge and can provide valuable advice. Connecting with them outside the office is essential by participating in various law-related organizations.
A team of like-minded individuals can help you develop a deeper understanding of the law. It is also very inefficient to try and reinvent the wheel whenever you encounter an issue—having someone in your office who has already dealt with the same problem can help you better understand how to fix it.
- Too Afraid To Admit Mistakes
Being a good lawyer depends on how well you can handle your mistakes. Although most of them can be fixed, many can become significant problems if left unacknowledged or feared. Being afraid to admit mistakes can prevent you from providing adequate coverage for your clients.
Being honest and upfront about your mistakes is the best way to avoid disappointing your colleagues or partners. It can help them decide how to handle the situation. Although it may be possible to fix the issue yourself, it is still important to demonstrate that you can still be competent and responsible.
- Not Taking Responsibility
New lawyers should consider that the various systems the firm uses are practical, but not failsafe. Each lawyer needs to take responsibility for their work flow, and double check all work product for errors. Having the proper deadlines can help prevent you from getting stuck in a tight time frame. You should ensure that the company’s established deadlines are always met.
When working in teams, each individual lawyer should take responsibility to review the team’s output. Just because you did not substantively handle one aspect of the case does not mean that you should not check to see if your team member’s overlooked something.