Articles From the Team
As a lawyer, what would you say to your 25-year-old self?
Last night I hosted our 2019 Newcastle NQ talk in conjunction with the Newcastle JLD. In a room full of soon-to-be qualified solicitors, it was a privilege to be in a position to provide advice on what to do as an NQ when you're embarking on the first steps of your future legal career.
A friend and I had a conversation the other day about looking back to our 25-year-old selves and what we’d say to them if we had the chance? At 35, and at a pretty successful point in my career (but not done yet!), there’s quite a lot to be honest…
It’s a marathon not a sprint
When I was 25, I wasn’t sure what direction I was going in. I’d tried out a career as a trainee clinical psychologist. And by ‘tried’, I mean gave it nine months. Because I took an extra year to finish my degree (it was a four year degree), a majority of my friends were already one or two years into their career. And here was me, fresh out of uni with one ‘failed’ career behind me already, questioning which retirement home I should put my name down for because I was basically done. I’d left it too late. It took me awhile to find my feet. Getting into recruitment was in truth a leap of faith, but I soared, and ten years later I’m on a successful path. I’m glad I took that leap, albeit a slightly coincidental one. I would tell myself that unless you’re Richard Branson, it will take time to build a successful career; a lot of hard work, but you’ll get there eventually, even if you have to take a few wrong turns.
When at work, act 35, not 25
Oh I wish someone had told me this! They probably did actually, but I most likely ignored them. No one knows the path their career will take. We’re learning every day. But whilst the future isn’t set in stone, the past certainly is. It can be hard to shake off a bad reputation. Don’t take the proverbial ‘p’. Show up, be accountable, and own your mistakes. Tardiness is not an option. I am not saying be the boring one (I probably sound 75 not 35 now), but know when it’s time to call it a day. Be professional at all times, because ultimately it’ll be you that’s left behind when others soar ahead (and past you).
Network above and below your age bracket
The older generation have the experience and the wisdom, and will teach you a lot. They’ll be there to turn to for advice and future guidance in 10 or 20 years time: “remember me?” Make sure they remember the impressive you, not the hungover state you were one morning after a boozy networker the night before.
On the flip side, the younger generation are your future. They will look to you, but similarly you will look to them for guidance on what’s new and upcoming, which will ultimately help with your future success. Appreciate both, and they will appreciate you back.
I’d be interested to have a chat with my 45-year-old self about this one, because I’m no better at this now than I was at 25! Times change, and professional and business worlds can move quicker than we’re able to keep up with. Without embracing those changes, how are we meant to grow professionally? Take a leap of faith, trust it will work, and run with it. You may need to change and adapt as you go, but it’s better than being left behind. What’s the worst that could happen? It’s a trait I would tell my younger self to get to grips with quicker than I have.
I often wonder if my 25-year-old self would find my 35-year-old self a bit ‘safe’? Probably! I thought 35 was old back then!, but I’m pretty chuffed with where I am now. I certainly wouldn’t change anything that did happen around that time, but if someone had told me to take my time and not panic, I may have got here a lot quicker!