GRADUATES – Your Time Is Now

It is that time of year when law graduates who are finishing their graduate year are being admitted as solicitors.  It is a huge achievement and an exciting time – studying your degree, working and now finishing that process with admission to practice.

So what’s next?Close up of a graduation cap and a certificate with a ribbon

In one sense you are starting again – just as you left school and then started Uni, you left Uni and then started work, now you are a junior lawyer starting on the bottom of the career ladder, or as Sheryl Sandberg calls it, the career jungle gym.

There is a great deal of responsibility that comes with a practising certificate – make sure you know and understand all the rules relating to professional conduct.  You are part of a proud profession and your ethical standards are of utmost importance.

In your new role, make sure you understand the performance expectations for your role.  If there are things that you know are a development need, don’t avoid this but treat it as a priority.  For example if public speaking causes you anxiety but you are expected to deliver presentations to clients then avoiding this is only going to hold you back. Master it as an art and practice this important skill.

Make sure you understand any charge out rate changes that come with a new salary, should you be in the happy position to have received one. Ask yourself if you would pay your charge out rate if you needed legal advice?  That is a good test of your worth to clients and help you put your hours at work into context. Clients expect value for money – you need to make sure they get it.

If you are working in an area in which you wish to specialise, now is the time for you to start thinking about professional development and how to develop that expertise.  Take advantage of every opportunity you are given to develop your expertise and to work with clients – every such opportunity is a learning opportunity.

Finding a mentor will help with your career development – mentoring relationships often work best when not forced, but rather happen organically. Mentors can not only help with career advice but can also provide you with opportunities to meet the right people and get more work.  Opportunity brings more opportunity so don’t miss out.

Make a career plan – and make it flexible to change with you as you develop as a lawyer.