From a New Attorney for a New Attorney: 5 Simple Bits of Advice

After completing law school and passing the bar, starting your first job as an attorney can feel like reaching the finish line—and yet, it is only the beginning of the exciting things to follow. Hit the ground running, tap into the foundational knowledge you’ve gained to get to this point and embrace the entry-level learning curve. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind as you realize the dream career you envisioned all along.

1. Quadruple-Check Deadlines

Lawsuits and trials revolve around deadlines. Often governed by law, these deadlines are as strict as they come. The need to quadruple-check each deadline may seem like an exaggeration, but it is not. Be extremely mindful of the statute of limitations, which as you know, is the amount of time a client has after an incident to file a claim. The statute of limitations may vary based on the type of claim and locale, making it a sometimes-moving target. There are also deadlines for filing motions, responding to discovery and other important actions throughout the course of a legal proceeding. Missing any one of them could harm or even disqualify a client’s case.

2. Calendar Everything

Welcome to the professional world, where “calendar” acts as a verb! To keep track of deadlines, it is highly advisable that you maintain an accurate calendar of to-dos. Digital calendar tools make it easy to add—aka “calendar”—and see upcoming events across all of your devices. Many attorneys also choose to keep a traditional planner. If you’re the type who likes pen and paper, keep in mind that many firms today expect employees to also maintain a digital calendar so that others can easily coordinate times to speak or meet.

3. Know What You Don’t

What was your worst subject in law school? There is a high likelihood that it will come to light, perhaps as an Achilles’ heel, once you are in the day-to-day of providing legal counsel. Recognize the areas where your knowledge may not be as strong and don’t be shy about seeking answers from colleagues or mentors. There is a lot that law school is not designed to teach its students—not only in terms of the law, but also career lessons that could make or break your success as an attorney.

4. Take a Puzzle Approach

Each client and claim can be likened to a puzzle. Your job is to put the pieces together and complete the big picture for an outcome that honors the law. It can be overwhelming at times, which is why, just like when working on a puzzle, you may need to step away for a moment. Work-life balance is both crucial and attainable in this line of work. Knowing there will be days when you are on a tight deadline and nights when you may be working late makes it all the more important to commit to self-care, maintain a social life and yes, even take a vacation as your schedule allows.

5. Consider a Community-Focused Firm

Being an attorney—especially a personal injury attorney—starts with compassion and continues with empathy, patience, understanding and purpose. Clients are coming to you during one of the most difficult times of their life. More than a name on a building, the firm you choose to work with will play a significant role in how you see yourself and value your work. One of the benefits of working with a boutique firm like Belgum, Fry & Van Allen is that you will be truly and deeply connected to the community you serve.

Contributor: Destiny M. Verdugo, Associate, Belgum, Fry & Van Allen