If you have recently completed law school, you are probably excited to begin working. As you start your first job and begin representing clients, keep the following tips in mind to ensure your long-term success.
Promote Your Work Online
While you may not have to find your own clients if you work for a large legal company, you should still maintain a positive online presence. Maintain active professional social media accounts on networks such as LinkedIn. Include a headshot of yourself, your resume and your expertise so that potential clients understand what your specialties are before they contact you. Consider starting a blog or website and investing in search engine optimization or pay per click ads to generate awareness of your practice. If you are thinking about consulting professionals such as FindLaw for help with your advertising strategy, ask more experienced colleagues, “Is FindLaw worth it?” Their advice will help you to decide where to invest your money.
Stick to Your Expertise
As a new lawyer, this is the perfect time for you to develop new skills and gain experience in the area where you hope to work for the next stage of your career. Don’t be afraid to take on different clients, but make sure that you have the knowledge to handle a case before you accept it. If you do not have enough experience through your education and internships to give a client a fair defense, then tell him or her to seek legal counsel elsewhere.
Uphold High Ethical Standards
Your clients look up to you as an expert on the law and also as a model of ethical behavior. Do not betray these perspectives in your work. Continue your education by reading works by expert lawyers and staying informed on changes to laws that are relevant to your field. Never accept bribes or engage in any kind of unprofessional conduct with your clients. While you may develop friendly relationships with your clients, particularly if you work together for a long time, do not let your opinion of them prevent you from acting ethically.
Maintain Professional Relationships
You probably will not want to hold the same job for your entire career, even if you like it now. It’s important to maintain a network of professionals within your field in case you need advice or other help in the future. Exchange permanent email addresses with your professors and keep in touch with them after graduating from law school. Not only are these relationships key to your development as a person, but many potential employers ask for professors’ letters of recommendation. Don’t discount your undergraduate professors’ expertise; many are well-respected experts in their fields. Maintain strong professional relationships with your colleagues and bosses, both during and after your job. When you leave one employer, make sure that you depart on good terms. This may not be possible if your work situation was unhealthy, but you never know when you will need a reference from a previous employer.
Evaluate Your Progress
Your first years as a lawyer will keep you so busy that you will have little time to think about how your career is progressing. To prevent yourself from getting stuck in a bad work situation and to keep your career from stagnating, regularly evaluate your performance. Twice a year, look at your major cases and see if you are performing better than you were during your last evaluation. Ask yourself if you are happy in your current position and if you are using your time wisely.
Completing law school is a huge accomplishment. Use these tips to make sure that you get the most out of your education in the years that follow.