Articles From the Team
What to expect in the first few months as a newly qualified solicitor
Many newly qualified solicitors are completing their ‘first month on the job' this week, but what comes of having the solicitor title? Are you expected to know it all? Is it normal to be dropped in the deep end? What are the expectations and what should you be doing?
As a newly qualified solicitor training and development should be ongoing and there’ll be a fair degree of hand-holding in the first couple of years as your knowledge and confidence grow.
If you’ve stayed on at your training firm then your manager should have a good grasp on your abilities and what you’re capable of handling on your own. If you’ve moved firms, then your new manager will want to get a steer on where you’re up to from a technical point of view and this might take a bit of time. It also requires you to be honest in what you feel comfortable dealing with and what you need help or advice on.
As a newly qualified solicitor, you’re likely to assist on larger/more complex matters and perhaps have a smaller caseload of relatively straightforward matters to deal with yourself. Try to demonstrate your initiative but at the same time know when to ask for help; don't be reckless, no-one wants a loose cannon in the office!
Whatever your chosen practice area, you should always seek to further your knowledge so invest your time wisely; undertake further reading on areas you're struggling with and attend courses on offer (both internally and externally). Also, make use of any online resources/training aids your firm has.
Ask Qs and listen
If you’re struggling to grasp a particular issue then ask your manager, or another lawyer in the team, to help explain the detail to you – when they have a moment. In an open plan office environment, you've got the benefit of sitting amongst senior solicitors and partners. Listen and learn...
Build your internal and external networks
If you’ve joined a new firm then it's important to build your internal network. Get to know others in your team and the wider firm. A good way to do this is to get involved in organised social events, firm sporting (or other) clubs or Friday night drinks. Show a willingness to get involved and get to know your colleagues on a personal level.
You should also build your external network: lawyers, professionals and clients. The ability to network, develop and maintain client relationships and ultimately generate work for your firm are key skills for any lawyer. Alongside this, you should seek to develop your firm's profile and also your own personal profile. Use social media to its best advantage.
My last couple of tips
Strive to be efficient. It's not the hours you spend in the office that count – it’s how productive you are during those hours. Be organised, hone your time recording skills and certainly stay late if you really need to, but try not to stay late out of habit. Your manager cares about fees recovered not what time you finish work!
Enjoy yourself and enjoy your work. Stay interested: the most successful lawyers love what they do!