My number one tip for aspiring lawyers is: aspire not just to be “a lawyer” but to become a really good lawyer.
What can help you do that?
1. Become a lawyer for the right reasons – really good lawyers genuinely care about the investment and trust they are asking their clients to place in them, they see being picked as a client’s lawyer as being a privilege. They are rarely motivated to be lawyers so that they can be a millionaire by the time they are 30 or because it will trump all of their friends’ career choices. For me, being a really good lawyer started not only with being technically good at law and being motivated by the challenge of difficult problem solving but also with a desire to help my clients navigate difficult times, achieve good outcomes and make sound decisions. I wanted then what I do now – for me to help clients achieve a good result and to feel happy with the decision they made to let me be part of their team. This career is rarely a bed of roses, it requires hard work, determination and some sleepless nights, but doing it for the right reasons makes it a worthwhile and rewarding one.
2. Find that area of law or part of being a lawyer that you are passionate about – if you don’t find an area of a part of the law that speaks to what you are passionate about and what you enjoy, your clients may never see the best you have to give. It can take time to find that, for me, I realised my main passions are learning about the nuts and bolts of business as well as creative problem solving and now this is what I focus my working time on. I love to talk to my franchisee clients about how their business works or is intended to work – getting involved in the detail of how money flows, how they attract clients and how they differ from their competitors gives me the chance to see if the legal terms of the franchise opportunity they are being offered stacks up with the “on the ground” business. Finding creative solutions to problems and disputes is my other passion – solutions are not always about money, and that curveball often surprises people.
3. Set boundaries – now more than ever before the tide is turning in our industry. We are not there yet with ensuring all lawyers’ wellbeing is taken care of and as a profession, we are not yet all completely standing together on wellbeing. You can be a great lawyer and have a work-life balance but you do need to control your boundaries to achieve that. I think the best lawyers are the happy ones. Clients don’t want tired and worn-out lawyers they want on the ball, fresh lawyers who are enjoying their work. No matter where you are in your legal career set boundaries especially with demanding clients and if you aren’t being valued and respected by your employer find a place that will value and respect you. It’s a great practice to get into early and I wish I had conquered boundary setting and knowing my own value far earlier in my career.
General Update by Amy Leite, Partner at Aria Grace Law