Every workplace has its own ethics that employees need to be aware of. If you are new into an organization, chances are you will face some problems in understanding how the whole system works. However, the same rule applies to law students as well. Eventually, their law course at school or college will get over. The students will get recruited to law firms, where they will pursue their career.
Though law students are always excited about their career in a law firm, but they need to learn specific tactics before they excel in a law firm. The ambiance in a law school and in a law firm will not be the same. Hence, it is essential for students to know about a few basic guidelines to work in a law firm. Else they might be lagging, despite having all the know-how and skills to succeed.
Here are a few essential aspects of a law firm that aspiring law students need to know as they start working.
1. A law firm is not a law school
This difference is apparent. But not many students realize this fact until they come across a hurdle. A law school had discipline and order. But it also had an informal ambiance, where teachers and students bonded. Also, law school is a place where students could express their vulnerability. The teachers and mentors were present to correct their weakness and make them turn a weakness into their core strengths.
A law firm will have the required discipline. Only thing is here the word discipline will get replaced by the word protocols. And every lawyer here needs to abide by these protocols. However, the ambiance will not be as informal as a law school. A law firm at the onset might appear to be very cut and dry. It has a formal ambiance where you will have other fellow lawyers trying to work their way out in their career. Also, there are essential processes of working that you need to adhere to. You will have a head to report to. And you might have to share your legal case with another lawyer as well. Your fellow lawyer might not be a friend. Competition in a law firm is prevalent. So be careful about these basic difference points in the approach of a law firm and law school, to start with.
2. You will have to develop your evaluative and analytical skills
A legal issue needs to be managed with evaluation and analytical skills. The clients will provide lawyers with all the essential facts. The lawyers are then expected to go through the facts and take out the important ones. It is not an easy task. For this, lawyers are required to analyze all the data and then evaluate the same. They need to develop these skills. As students, lawyers must have read this in the law schools. But now they need to put the same into action. And this requires training.
Law students are expected to learn this as they assist their seniors. It is not possible for them to learn it all at one go. As they manage various legal cases, they will get better with analysis and evaluation. Sometimes, young lawyers get to learn about study and evaluation in interesting ways. Few firms create mock court trials to help young lawyers know to put their analytical skills to use. A lawyer can become successful at his/her job only by learning from his/her seniors and also by observing how other lawyers are performing. They also need to stay open to suggestions and constructive criticism.
3. Documentation and research are important
A successful legal procedure is not just about what a lawyer speaks during the court proceedings. It depends how much the lawyer has researched the case. And while you research, you need to document your entire research work. It is something that you might have learned minimally in your law school. But when you are working for a law firm you need to follow this aspect very well. Make sure that you don’t fall short in your research. Also, ensure that you document all your research work so that you have the essential facts under your control. You can then use it or take reference from it the way you want to.
Don’t just keep a copy of it on your computer. Keep another copy and archive it in an online storage drive. This way you can be sure that all the relevant details are stored securely. Take print outs of the facts from time to time. Also, if you have records of essential facts in paper, ensure that you file it securely. Assign someone trustworthy to be in charge of its security.
4. Teamwork is important
The professional world is often touted to be filled with competition. But that doesn’t mean people can’t work together. There are legal cases where more than two lawyers need to present the case in the court. Hence, this is where you need to say yes to teamwork. It’s true that as lawyers you need to get competitive and keep your eye on success. But when you need to work in a co-operative manner, you need to use tact and add into the teamwork. That way, you will get known as a team player. That is essential for your success as well.
5. Be vocal about your thoughts
It is essential to keep learning as you step out from your law-school to law firm. Continuing the attitude of a student is always good. But that doesn’t mean you will not put forward your views. You need to know that law is all about your analysis and observation. Hence, it is essential that you get vocal about your thoughts and views. So, learn ways how to present your views before your seniors and even in the court.
There are several times when you need to get vocal. It includes, from filing an appeal to pronouncing out a harsh verdict to the client. Not every case is going to be a big win! There will be difficult cases as well. Also, you have the chance to see and learn from other expert lawyers. Observation will help you learn better. Check out the way expert lawyers present their thoughts and comments, both in the office discussion room as well as in the court. Ask for necessary guidelines and suggestions as well from others if you want to. It will help you fine tune your skills better.
The legal field is both competitive and dynamic. It’s true that what you see in court and what you see in the legal field are in reality vastly different. You need to get the reality check as soon as you make a shift from your law school to the firm. Also, every law firm has its own rules and standards that you should pay heed to and adhere to as well. It will help you sync in with the firm and contribute to the working ambiance. Last but not least, as an enterprising lawyer ensure that you with your skills and dedication, add to the knowledge-sharing in the firm. It will be a big step towards a successful career.