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LIV President's Blog 2012

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Top tips on how to make a good impression when you're starting in law

Top tips on how to make a good impression when you're starting in law

A new job is a daunting experience, and the legal industry is one in which the challenges can be particularly acute. Graduates enter a profession that can be both highly competitive and adversarial, and despite several years of intense study it's not uncommon for one to feel as if they don't know a thing.

Don't panic - these feelings are normal, and we've all experienced them in our careers. Instead, take that nervous energy and dance a happy jig, because we've put together several great tips to help ensure that your entry into the legal workplace is a smooth, rewarding and successful one.

1. Keep your head. Know why you're there. One of the most common human fears is that we're not good enough. Don't let this insecurity sway you. If you're worrying about what might happen if you underperform, this is misdirected energy that could be better utilised in applying yourself to excel. Remember, you were hired for a reason. Your employers scrutinised hundreds of other candidates, and decided that you were the best person for that job. Take heart in this, and approach each day with that quiet assurance. Your work will reflect your self-belief, and your confidence will in turn inspire confidence in your employers.

2. Be inquisitive. There's no such thing as a dumb question. But be aware that some questions should be directed to certain people, or asked at appropriate times, but when you start work your mind should be a sponge. The law is a vast and dynamic beast that takes years, even a lifetime, to master and the only way to do so is to immerse yourself. Ask as many questions as you feel you need to ask, in order to properly understand your task, and what is expected. This shows that you're fully engaged, and you're more likely to complete work correctly on your first attempt. On a practical note, make a habit of carrying a pen and notepad whenever you attend a meeting, or have a discussion with your manager or partner about an issue.

3. Learn people's names.  Make an effort to learn the name of everyone you work with and even those that you may not have regular contact with. This demonstrates that you're a team player, and that you value your workplace and co-workers. They will appreciate the personable effort you have made. Go one step further and learn what their role within the organisation is. This will be of benefit down the track when you come across matters that require more, or different, expertise.

4. Practise humility. Your confidence can appeal to your employers and make them warm to you, but it is crucial that you always remain humble, whatever your successes may be. Every person you meet can teach you something, especially early in your career, so give them the respect and sincere attention that they deserve. It will be noticed. In the words of Hemingway, 'there is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self'.

5. Show enthusiasm, and willingness to go the extra mile. Don't mistake this for sycophancy or for sacrificing work-life balance. This is in fact a culmination of several other tips, in which you demonstrate that you're a passionate member of the team, and are eager to see your firm or organisation succeed and grow.What's fundamental in this principle is that you're authentic in your efforts. Don't work late because it's the calculated thing to do - do it because you genuinely want to be best employee you can be, and because you want your workplace to provide the best service that it can. 

7. Smile. A smile costs nothing, but gives a lot. It enriches those who receive it without making poorer those who give it. A smile takes only a moment, but the memory of it can last forever.


Have your own tips for surviving or excelling in the first year of work in the industry? We'd love to hear them, share them in the comments below.

About the Author – Radu Catrina is an Enforcement Officer at ASIC

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