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LIV President's Blog 2012

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45 tips to master the transition from study to practice

45 tips to master the transition from study to practice

On Wednesday, 20 March 2013, the LIV Young Lawyers’ Section hosted an Orientation for New Lawyers event with the focus being on assisting new lawyers with their transition into full time practice.  I am happy to report that the event was again a success with close to 80 attendees. The event included a session where three young lawyers provided 45 tips in 45 minutes. This year our three presenters were:

  1. Amanda Storey, former 2012 YLS President and Solicitor at the Consumer Action Law Centre
  2. Leigh Howard, 2013 YLS Vice President and Solicitor at Clayton Utz (Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety)
  3. Jaci Langford, Legal Counsel at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation

On behalf of the Young Lawyers’ Section I would again like to extend my thanks to the presenters. Their tips are fantastic and I hope they help both present and future young lawyers with their professional development and career progression. As promised, here are their 45 tips:

  1. Your secretary is your best friend; make an effort to look after them
  2. Dress according to where you want to be promoted to in 5 years’ time
  3. Join your firm’s social committee or social club
  4. Keep a separate record of all your positive achievements
  5. Make grammar and proof reading your first priority
  6. Own up to your mistakes as soon as you realise them
  7. Set up your own personal folder in your office and keep copies of marked-up drafts.
  8. Have an answer to the question: why did you want to work at X firm?
  9. Manage your expectations
  10. Start good work and life habits now
  11. Network
  12. Build networks with other young lawyers outside your firm
  13. Record all of your units you have done in the morning before you go to lunch
  14. Be in charge of your professional development
  15. If you don’t like your job (after you have managed your expectation) don’t just quit the law


  1. Carry a notebook and pen everywhere
  2. Hone your legal research skills
  3. Increase your typography skills
  4. Become an expert in legal interpretation
  5. Use technology/your firms resources to your advantage
  6. Build your own precedent bank
  7. Get involved in as much pro-bono work as you can
  8. Specialise in something
  9. Purchase a Bible
  10. Don’t overuse email
  11. Accept that you are working in an environment centred on deadlines
  12. Find a mentor
  13. Do whatever you do that keeps you confident
  14. Find some other junior lawyers to 'grow up' with
  15. Be yourself, not what you think your firm expects
  16. Get involved in the Young Lawyers


  1. If you’re given instructions make sure you ask if you’re not sure how to do something. The longer you leave it the harder it is to askGet into the habit of calling and asking court registries what the process is. There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving something back because you haven’t included a court number or signed in the right place etc. The administrative staff are always helpful
  2. Get into the habit of calling and asking court registries what the process is. There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving something back because you haven’t included a court number or signed in the right place etc. The administrative staff are always helpful
  3. Write everything down; this way you look as though you’ve listened
  4. Appear eager, take on a challenge
  5. Be confident, court can be very intimidating, even to senior lawyers, but the Judge or Magistrate will assist and direct you
  6. When dealing with other lawyers, let them know you’re just starting out, they will assist you
  7. It’s not a competition with other lawyers; you never know when you’ll come across the same lawyer so don’t make enemies. The legal profession is a small world
  8. Be yourself; don’t try to put on a ‘lawyer’ persona. My boss always said “you can turn a good honest person into a lawyer, you can’t turn a lawyer into a good honest person”
  9. Don’t expect to know everything, every day is a new matter so just be open minded
  10. Be pro-active, keep up the contact with you clients so that nothing falls between the cracks
  11. Try to stay neat. You won’t lose any documents on a neat desk
  12. Keep a task list; task, instructor,  client, date and progress
  13. Treat your senior lawyers like you would a client
  14. Be careful what you put in written correspondence

Young Lawyers:
What was the most valuable advice you received or the biggest lesson you learned in your transition into full time practice?
What do you believe will be the most difficult aspect of transition from study to full time practice? Or, what is your favourite tip from above?
Cassandra Piacentini
YLS Manager

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Choosing a career is one of life's most ipaortmnt and difficult decisions. We simply already have way too many Legal Professionals. AND the legal profession is dramatically changing; it is in absolute CRISIS!!! Job searching in this vocational field has changed >>DRAMATICALLY< < in the last five years. And, every year, more and more people graduate from law school, but there are fewer and fewer jobs. Even the largest and most reputable law firms are experiencing unprecedented cutbacks. I don't expect the situation to improve in the coming years.....Be aware of what you are proposing on getting yourself into. Please do more research first. Reminder: We are STILL in a World-wide Recession. Consider career paths that have available JOBS.>I found this out the hard way.) Also, the law school's program needs to be accredited by the American Bar Association if it isn't, you are just wasting your time/money.Even if you finish law school, you won't be able to find a job when you are done. Since this vocational field is shrinking (at an alarming rate), many new attorneys/lawyers are, themselves, having to work down as Paralegals, Legal Assistants, Legal Secretaries, Bailiffs, Court Reporters, etc, etc, to simply try to keep some of their bills paid
19/04/2013 6:51:15 AM

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