top ten tips for grads
Your time as a graduate will be full of new and wonderful experiences as well as the occasional curve ball. Here are some tips from our lawyers to help you navigate the challenges and enjoy the opportunities presented during your first 18 months.
Remember the basics
Being a great lawyer is more than just being great at the law. It's also being a professional who provides great service to clients and colleagues. That starts with doing the basics well, like responding promptly to phone calls and emails, maintaining clear and organised files, presenting your work well, delivering when you say you will and always preserving confidentiality. As a grad, there are lots of basics. The first and most important is always to come prepared. Bring a pen and pad to meetings. Listen and take notes. It's amazing how much you'll learn.
University may be over, but the real learning starts now. The law and business are constantly changing. We need to stay on top and ahead of those changes. At Corrs, we provide a structured and ongoing professional development program and an enormous number of learning opportunities. But you also need to be prepared to drive your own learning. Always be alert and listen when in meetings. Be curious. Find out as much as you can about the clients you're working for, learn about their industries so you can understand their needs better.
You have internal and external clients
As a grad, you'll be asked to work for a variety of people including other lawyers, senior associates and partners, ultimately for the benefit of an end client. You should think of everyone you work for as a client. If you impress your internal clients, you'll have many more opportunities to impress external clients. So be professional. Be responsive. Think about how you can make life easier for the lawyers in your team. Make sure your work is high quality. And always deliver on time.
Be a team player
Teamwork is a huge part of the way we work at Corrs. We bring together lawyers from different practice areas, states and even countries, to provide an efficient and integrated service for our clients. As a grad, you will rotate through different practice areas and you'll have an important role to play as part of those teams. Look for opportunities to contribute. If you have finished the work assigned to you, see if there is anyone else you can help. Also remember to work with the other graduates. Don't compete with them. You'll all be going through the same thing, so catch up regularly to share experiences.
Your reputation is everything
Over the course of your career, you will discover that your most valuable asset is your reputation. And you start building your reputation from your first day as a graduate. So, work hard. Take care to produce quality. Always check your work before providing it to a lawyer or client. Always keep your promises and deliver your work when you say you will. And if you can't, let the person expecting it know early so everyone can manage expectations. If you make a mistake, admit it early and learn from it. Always be honest.
Understand your clients' needs
Perhaps the biggest challenge you'll face as a graduate lawyer is the shift from preparing assignments on the law to creating commercial advice that achieves real outcomes for clients. You'll soon realise that clients don't want you to tell them the law. They want you to tell them how the law impacts their commercial objectives. And they want you to tell them in a way that is clear, succinct and easy for them to use. So, always try to stand in the shoes of your client. Think about what's important to them and what they are trying to achieve.
The change from university student to graduate lawyer can be huge. Different hours, different work and different challenges. It can be easy to feel consumed by it all, particularly as you will want to impress. Enthusiasm, commitment and application are great and the sorts of qualities we look for in our grads. But, we also don't want you to become overwhelmed or burn out. So, keep a little perspective. Think of your career as a marathon not a sprint. It's OK not to know everything all at once. Work hard but also make sure you have interests outside work. We want you to be fresh and focussed.
There is nothing more infectious than positive energy. It inspires and motivates others. People want to work with positive people. So, always try to be positive. Don't complain or criticise. Take on every task with enthusiasm, no matter how big or small. Take an interest in other people and share experiences with them. Treat challenges as opportunities and always look for the upside. Enjoy the work. Have fun.
During your career at Corrs you will be presented with many wonderful opportunities, from the quality of work and clients to professional development, including studying and working overseas. As a graduate, every day will present an opportunity to learn, grow and contribute. Embrace all these with enthusiasm. Make the most of them. Don't just do the minimum. Sounds like a cliché, but the more you put in the more you'll get out.
Love what you do
To be good at what you do, you have to enjoy it. To be great, you need to love it. Passion is a differentiator that is recognised by clients and colleagues alike. Passion fuels commitment and drives continuous improvement. And it makes hard work fun. So use your time as a graduate to explore different areas of law and find one that inspires you. Then commit to it, apply yourself and see where it takes you. You won't be disappointed.