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Career Advice for Junior Attorneys and Law Students

Fall is here! New associates are entering firms, and law students are anxiously starting their first day of classes (or counting down the days until graduation). This is a time of great transition,
making a great time to look ahead and think about how you will advance your career. Here are a few pieces of advice to keep in mind:

If you are at a firm:

Seek opportunities that will develop your skill set—even if you do not intend to remain in your current position. Most entry level attorneys harbor other ambitions, and as a result, take for granted the opportunities presented by their current positions. Even if you are making plans to exit, remember that the connections you make and people you impress will position you for success when the right opportunity comes by. Acting like you want to make partner or climb the institutional ladder makes you a more promising junior attorney.

Be proactive, and not just reactive. Be a sponge (figuratively) and to soak up as much as possible, so that you become more effective as you become more senior. Align yourself with more senior associates that will give you the chance to prove yourself, challenge yourself, and grow. The time you invest just soaking up information makes you an incredible asset to your partner or supervisor who will rely on you to get things done.

Establish relationships with mentors. No one likes feeling taken advantage of—but we are all willing to invest in talented, hard working individuals who want to build their practice. Connect with multiple mentors and seek out those who are different from you to help guide your career and position you in the best light.

Whether you are at a firm or in school:

Seize the opportunity to learn develop business and interpersonal skills. Law school classrooms don’t always provide opportunities to learn about business—take advantage of training and learning opportunities to develop strategy and marketing skills. Exposure to technology, expert systems, or artificial intelligence will be particularly useful as these will be strong drivers of the legal landscape. Also, take advantage of any opportunity to develop communications, and presentation skills. Learning how to work in a group where collaboration and leadership will be essential.

Spend more time with people, and less time with your technology screens.

(Cautiously) Say YES: law students and junior associates have busy schedules.

Once you get the hang of it, add something else to your plate (as impossible as it may seem). It is these random projects and commitments that often lead you to discover something new, land you that golden opportunity, or elevates your skill set or platform. Learn how to effectively participate in committees, join bar organizations, and find ways to become a resource to colleges and classmates, as these will make it easy for you to become a resource to clients and potential clients.

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