You’ve worked hard for years to get here. You’ve completed your law degree, sailed through practical legal training, signed the roll of solicitors – you’re a lawyer now. So, what next? How do you get through your early career and become a successful lawyer? This guide features practical tips for new lawyers to help you have a long and rewarding legal career.

The right to practice law comes with rights and responsibilities

Your primary obligations are to put your duty to the court and your commitment to your client ahead of your interests during legal practice. You are subject to rules of professional conduct and discipline to make sure you play the proper role in the administration of law. The public is protected from unsatisfactory legal representation, and the public’s confidence in the legal system is maintained.

A partnership is not the ultimate goal of your law practice

The goal of practising law and putting in so much hard work is not to become a partner. It is to become a good lawyer and serve your clients’ interests in the best way you can. Your value and skills as a lawyer are not dependent on how many partners you have.

Position yourself for success

It can get tricky to switch specialisations down the track in the legal profession. Don’t just happily take on any role, thinking you can change later. Determine which area of law you want to work for, and try to start there to future proof your career.

Honesty to your client and the court is necessary

Dishonest conduct by a lawyer or misleading the court or a client is a serious offence and can result in severe disciplinary actions. You should be sincere regardless of the consequences.

Your reputation is everything

As a lawyer, you need to act in a manner that enhances your reputation. A competent and trustworthy lawyer enjoys credibility, with even opposing lawyers tending to listen to what they have to say. Your reputation also gives clients the confidence to trust you as their legal counsel.

The practice of law is hard

Law schools will teach you the law, but the application to real-life situations are new challenges you’ll face in the formative years of your legal profession. Early in your career, you’ll need to put in extra and work for longer hours. It’s not easy to maintain a work-life balance. Sharpen your time management skills and make sure you have a good support system.

Build your network

It is vital to building a solid network during your legal career. Having a network of colleagues, clients, and mentors will open doors to new opportunities and help you navigate your career over time.

Be a people’s person

People skills top the list of skills needed to succeed in modern legal practice. The ability to collaborate and communicate effectively is most important.

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