16 Essential Tips To Succeed In The Legal Career

Particia MaldonadoMay 7, 2024,

Like any career path, to climb the ladder of success, you need a specific combination of skills, such as attention to detail, dedication to your cause yet also commercial awareness, awareness, ability to keep on studying and learning and good communication, among others skills.

So, let’s take a look at what skills the professionals advise you need to develop to make it in the legal world.

1. A Good Command of the Law, Yet Always Striving to Learn More

“I am frequently asked by new attorneys what it takes to succeed as a lawyer, and this is the guidance I give. You must have a command of the law and the humility to understand that you don't know more than you do know. In becoming an attorney, who aspires to be a great attorney, you must see yourself as a perpetual student who is always engaged in the study of law.” (Joseph Gutheinz)

2. Don’t Take on More Than You Can Handle

“Even the best attorneys will fail if they take on more than they can handle, so remember, your #1 responsibility is to your clients, not making money, you must take on less and do more. Always show up on time, knowledgeable about your case and ready to go. Pick up the phone from time to time just to keep your clients updated. Stay organized! Law is a truly great profession, and it will stay that way if we all put in the effort.”

Joseph Gutheinz, Gutheinz Law Firm, LLP

3. Develop Habits of Compartmentalization

“To be personally successful while working with the law, it is advantageous if you can develop habits of compartmentalizing your thoughts and feelings, yes so that you can small talk in the afternoon with the colleague you were arguing against earlier that day, but more importantly so that you can put your case problems away mentally at the end of each day.” (J. Harrison Fulk)

4. Be Amiable

“In private practice in particular, clients tend to be attracted to lawyers who can avoid legalese and reveal a bit of their personality in conversation, rather than those who sacrifice warmth and amiability to provide overly technical, if accurate, advice and answers. Finally, be patient with yourself: both of the above keys to success take time and experience to develop, and if you are diligent and resilient you will get there and probably enjoy great benefits as a result!”

J. Harrison Fulk, partner at law firm; Cox & Fulk LLC

5. Energy to Investigate and Research More

“One of the best pieces of advice I can give is somewhat generic but true. When first starting out, you have the energy, the fresh book smarts, but not the experience. These skills set you up to be the fiercest of advocates for clients. Always listen closely; sometimes, the smallest detail can make or break an entire case. What a new lawyer lacks in experience, they have in energy. Use that energy to do more. Investigate more, research more. A new attorney has many advantages over an older, more experienced one if they play their cards right.”

Lyle D. Solomon, Attorney at Oak View Law Group

6. Networking and Interpersonal Skills

“Just like any other career, networking is crucial, but even more so in the legal job market which can be difficult to break into after you graduate. So networking becomes even more important, and you should start building your contacts even before finishing law school. You never know who might have started up a law firm or have influential contacts that can give you a hand in finding a job. A legal career can be difficult to get going at the start but once you start building up your client base, then it gets much easier and more rewarding.”

Branka Vuleta,  Founder, General Manager LegalJobs.io

7. Study

“The legal profession is a challenging profession to excel at and needs long hours of studies and research to be successful.” (Jennifer L. Bennett)

8. Stay Up-to-Date

“The laws keep amending, and one needs to be up to date with the latest laws and amendments made to the laws.” (Jennifer L. Bennett)

9. Clarity In Communication

“Clarity in communication is an essential part of the legal profession. Articulation helps in putting your point precisely as you want to without any ambiguity.” (Jennifer L. Bennett)

10. Ability to Work Long Hours and Under Pressure

“The ability to work long hours & under pressure is something that a legal professional should learn and get accustomed to. Sometimes you could go days without proper sleep or even good meals.”

Jennifer L. Bennett, Owner Law Office of Jennifer L. Bennett

11. Believe In What You are Doing And The Reasons For It

“If I had to say one thing about what it takes to succeed, it would be to believe in what you are doing and why you are doing it. Whether you are a research attorney, fight for custody in a family law court, or represent personal injury victims in a civil suit, you must believe in the cause. That is what helps people fight the legal battles they can not. That is what the cause truly comes down to, believing in the reason for being in the legal industry more than everyone you may encounter. 

“Of course, there will be wins and losses, but the belief is constant. Legal battles are just that, battles. If you cannot gear up and believe in the cause, you likely will not be successful in any legal profession. If you can believe in why you joined the legal industry every day, you will be successful. Fighting for your cause is how to ensure one will succeed in the legal field.”

Jonathan Garza, Personal Injury Attorney, Herrman and Herrman PLLC 

12. Follow in the Right Footsteps

“Finding the right mentor early on in your journey can radically change the course of your legal career, enriching it with knowledge, experience, and lessons learned first-hand. Aside from guidance and advice on legal matters, a mentor can also introduce their mentee to their own network, which is invaluable in the long run.”

Riley Beam, Managing Attorney Douglas R. Beam, P.A.

13. Total Commitment and Investment of Time

“Successful legal careers demand total commitment and a substantial investment of time. Neither is possible without a supportive partner or family. They have to understand and accept the demands of the profession, and then pitch in wherever and whenever needed. That unconditional support, however, often differs by gender, as do the assumptions of others in the profession.”

Nora V. Demleitner, a chaired law professor and former dean at two US law schools; Roy L. Steinheimer Jr. Professor of Law Washington and Lee University, Virginia 

14. Find What Makes You Happy

“Finding lasting success in the legal field ultimately hinges on a person’s ability to find what makes them happy. Some people think (oftentimes incorrectly) that making a lot of money as a lawyer will make them happy. Others enter the legal field to try and help people. The fact is you can do both, but even then, if you’re doing it in an area of the law that you don’t enjoy, you won’t ultimately be happy or successful. So, if I had one piece of advice to those who want to be successful it would be to really think about what about the legal field interests you and can make you happy in a way that could sustain you for your entire career. If you can answer that, success will naturally follow.”

Mike Redondo,  Redondo Law, P.A

15. A Good Mentor

“First, find a good mentor to get a better perspective on legal advice and bounce your opinions off of them. A new lawyer should also make sure that they are always prepared. Experienced lawyers always do the extra work and follow the 10% rule, which is working at least 10% harder than the next lawyer, and you would get rewarded for that.”

Jeffrey McAvoy, lead practice attorney at Conduct Law

16. Self-Motivation and Drive

“There are countless ways to make it in the legal world, and not all of them involve being an attorney. If you do want to become a lawyer, the traditional route would be to complete a Bachelor’s degree, followed by law school and accreditation by a higher association. (In our case, the American Bar Association.)

“But if you don’t want to become a lawyer, there are several other occupations that are hired by law firms, such as marketing professionals, copywriters, paralegals, transcriptionists, or even HR professionals like me! 

“I would say the best natural qualification to work in the legal field would be self-motivation, or better yet, drive. Sure, it helps to be highly organized, but the passion has got to be there for any meaningful action to take place. This is quite literally a profession where the paperwork can crush you, and no one is going to make you do it other than yourself.”

Alison Pearson, Head of HR at Hal Waldman and Associates

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