It is that time of year when many graduates are starting work for the first time, looking for jobs, or when people change jobs. It can be a daunting process – after all that study and hard work, you are starting again, at the bottom of the totem pole so to speak. Wisdom comes with age and experience, so we asked some of our clients and senior candidates what they wish they had known when starting out, that they know now.


Here are just some of the things they told us:

“Making a mistake can be terrifying – but it is not the end of the world. Not telling your supervising partner about it though is the worst thing you can do”


“When you are being given instructions, write everything down. If you’re not sure what is being asked of you, ask! It is far better than going off in the wrong direction”


“If you have a bad feeling about a file, you can guarantee the client is feeling it too – don’t put off calling a client, even if it is to tell them nothing is happening”


“It is not the end of the world if you don’t get a job at one of the so called ‘top tier’ firms. There are many options out there and some are better options. Don’t limit yourself by pre-conceived ideas”


“Get to know everyone you can – clients, colleagues, other lawyers. The more people you know, the more opportunities will come your way”


“You might think orientation or induction is boring – but you will want to know who the fire wardens are and where the fire stairs are, so pay attention”


“Be prepared to receive feedback and some you may not want to hear. It’s how you respond to it that counts”


“If you’re in a relationship, having a uterus does not give you sole responsibility for collecting your child from childcare – make sure your partner does his or her fair share as well”


“Sheryl Sandberg was right – it’s not a career ladder; more like a jungle gym”


“Taking a secondment opportunity was the best thing that happened to me for my career – it gave me a deeper understanding of what clients expect and a great relationship with the client. When I went back to work, that opportunity became the catalyst for my promotion”


“If the firm you are with does not fit with your personal values, don’t stick with it, hoping it will get better – it will just make you unhappy”


“Learn how to present – whether it is 5 people or 500, you must be able to present yourself confidently. It is an essential skill”


“Don’t participate in office gossip, rumour and innuendo – rely on your own observations and interactions with people and make your own judgments about that person. If someone is gossiping to you, you can be sure they are also gossiping about you”


“Learning ‘who’s who in the zoo’ early on and remembering names was one of the first things I did – and that includes support staff”


“Don’t underestimate the worth of support staff – most of them have been there longer than you and know more about the firm than you do. The firm can’t operate without them. Treat all staff as you would wish to be treated yourself.”


“Diary note everything, even if you left a message for a client to call you six times. It could be important”


“HR is not the enemy – they helped me with some very tricky inter-personal situations”


So there you have it – some great advice. What would you add?