Advice for New Lawyers: 11 Tips for Aspiring Attorneys

advice for new lawyerMore people in the U.S. were seeking legal assistance in March 2022 than before the pandemic began in 2019.

While the world faces a recession, the legal profession has continued to thrive. With the average salary across the industry at a healthy $127,990, becoming a lawyer remains an attractive proposition.

But it takes a lot of work to get there, and when you get started, following the right advice for young lawyers can help you reach your goals faster.

Many legal professionals have been in similar positions to you at the start of their careers. You can learn from them and prevent making the same mistakes on your journey through your attorney career.

So, I’ve curated the best lawyer tips from around the web and combined those with a few nuggets of attorney career advice that I’ve picked up from our legal clients along the way and present those to you in this article,

Let’s get into it.

1. Be clear on your goals – beyond the financial ones

Why are you entering the legal profession? What makes you want to be a lawyer? What are your goals?

Advice for Lawyers Goals

The six-figure salary is fine, and it may be an initial goal to pay back that law school loan or get that new car, but after that, what?

The first piece of advice for a young lawyer is to think about your why?

Your real why is what will get you past the difficult times that most new lawyers feel at some stage during the first few years.

Depending on your main practice area, your goals might include becoming a notable personal injury lawyer, helping juvenile offenders stay out of jail, or helping accident victims get the compensation they deserve.

Your why can be anything but needs to be more than just about the money. Once you’ve made enough to pay the bills or get those things you’ve craved (which might take a few years), you’ll be looking for broader goals to drive you on, so it’s best to nail those early on in your career. Then you can focus on taking the necessary actions to get closer to them.

2. Define who you want to work with

Your happiness within the legal profession may also depend on the people you work with. For most new lawyers just starting, the dream will be to land employment with a law firm that can nurture your talents, introduce you to the practice area you’d like to specialize in and provide mentoring and guidance in your career.

Unfortunately, not all law firms provide this nurturing environment, and many new lawyers get caught in the everyday hurly-burly of high-stakes legal services. It can easily become a stressful and even toxic environment for employees.

Law firm graduates and new lawyers should consider carefully the values they’re looking for in a potential employer and the qualities they expect in the workplace. If you don’t see these being provided, it might be best to keep looking — even if the money’s good.

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There’s no pressure anymore to spend your career with one or two law firms. This used to be common, but it’s now far more acceptable to move between employers every few years as you develop your career path.

If you’re not into running a law practice but still want to practice law, consider becoming in-house counsel for a company or join a larger law firm that provides the support staff to handle billing, admin, and all the time-consuming tasks that lawyers often have to manage in a small business.

3. Remain agile

“Agility” is not only a buzzword for businesses. It also applies to the legal career, and remaining agile is good advice for new lawyers.

You want clearly defined goals, but flexibility is important along the path to achieving these goals. Opportunities that involve taking a risk or two may arise, and you shouldn’t shy away because they don’t appear to match your desired career path immediately.

As suggested already, joining a firm, sticking with it for a decade to make partner, and remaining there until you retire is not the only option anymore.

More interesting options may present themselves, so you must be ready to “pivot” when the right opportunity arises. The young lawyer who remains agile and is ready to change direction at short notice can thrive in the modern legal landscape, which has broken out of its traditional patterns on many fronts.

It’s not uncommon, for instance, to start in one practice area with big goals only to find that it wasn’t what you thought. A new criminal defense lawyer might discover that they are not as adept as they’d hoped in convincing judges in criminal cases but, instead, have a talent for legal research. This might prompt a change in career direction and require a pivot to become a family lawyer, for instance.

Ultimately, if your legal work early in your career is unfulfilling and not making you happy, don’t be scared to re-invent yourself.

4. Consider starting a virtual law firm

Most new lawyers need to work for another firm initially to learn the ins and outs of having a legal career and gain valuable experience.

But the real satisfaction (and the real money) may come from starting a firm of their own. That used to be a lot more difficult with all the overheads to meet, but the legal profession has increasingly transitioned to the cloud and remote working.

It’s now far more affordable and acceptable to run a law firm virtually and provide legal advice that way, and this may be an attractive option if your dream is to start a law firm.

The great technological pushes of the past few years have accelerated the move to remote working, so it’s never been easier to create a virtual law firm:

These trends mean that setting up a virtual law firm may make a lot of sense for a young lawyer.

5. Use the technology available

Regardless of whether you plan to set up a virtual law firm, lawyers have access to more sophisticated technology to reach out and attract clients and make their work more efficient.

The technology adopted during the pandemic is here to stay; ignoring it only means that others will get ahead quicker.

Whether it’s e-filing cases in court, getting documents signed electronically, automatically filling forms with client information to save time or an entire suite of practice management software, this has become second nature to the new generation of lawyers.

Cloud-based automation tools allow you to accomplish more in less time on any device, from any location, at any time. You no longer have to be in the office to access a local file server to maintain secure communications.

CosmoLex Law Practice Management Software
(Image Source)

Legal tech tools do it all and include cloud-based file storage systems, such as Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive.

The best legal customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you onboard new clients, and practice management software looks after timekeeping, billing, document creation/ editing/storage, and client communications.

6. Be more client-centric

Your clients will share their experiences freely online and offline, so any lawyer who doesn’t put client interests first is likely to find out about it very quickly.

Client-centricity is expected from most service professionals these days, and lawyers are no different.

A truly client-centric firm places the client’s experience as a priority. Customers expect clear and prompt communications, convenient ways to interact with you, online billing and payments, simplicity when completing/sharing/editing documents, and efficient use of the available technology.

They do not want to waste time or effort chasing you, filling in forms with the same information or following up on errors.

No new lawyer should find out that they’re missing the mark by regularly receiving negative reviews.

7. Invest in the right law firm marketing strategies

The most successful law firms invest in marketing campaigns that attract and/or retain clients — and focus on digital channels rather than traditional media channels.

Modern digital marketing like SEO, pay-per-click, social media marketing, and email marketing is targeted and cost-effective and helps drive traffic, leads, and sales through your law firm’s website.


At least a basic understanding of law firm marketing strategy should be a prerequisite for any new lawyer.

Most of the “heavy lifting” can be done by the law firm marketing agency you choose, but it helps to know a little about the most effective strategies before you hire them.

8. Develop your business skills as well as legal skills

If you aim to open a practice of your own at any time in the future, it will pay to start learning the business skills you’ll need as well as the legal skills.

Many lawyers who run a firm have little in the way of business training — it’s certainly not covered in law school.

Knowledge of business finance/accounting, marketing/business development, and other business skills, therefore, will pay off when you need to call the shots.

9. Find a mentor to learn from

If you’re lucky enough to find a mentor in the legal profession, you’re onto a winning formula. It’s not easy because most good lawyers are busy and have limited time to spend on anything but casework.

If you do find someone with the time, they might not have the patience to teach or the personality to be a mentor.

Someone with the skills, experience, time, and patience to guide you is one of your most valuable assets as a new lawyer or aspiring attorney. Not only will you learn how to get better outcomes in cases, but you’ll also be able to manage stress better.

If you haven’t met a mentor in your workplace, you can try through bar associations or by networking online via LinkedIn, etc.

10. Maintain a healthy work-life balance

Legal work can mean long hours and lots of stress because of its high-stakes nature. If you’re a new lawyer joining an established law firm, a lot will be expected of you, and it’s easy to say yes to everything and become overworked.

Years of legal work without adequate breaks can lead to burnout and mental health problems.

In any case, working all the time will likely lead to general dissatisfaction, impatience with coworkers and more errors.

Starting as a new lawyer committed to taking care of your mental and physical health will help you strike a healthy work-life balance from the beginning. This is a very good habit to get into, and its importance is often underestimated.

If you’re going to spend the next few decades as a lawyer, doing the right things from the start will be a big benefit. Downtime, rest, doing the things you love and spending time with family/friends are vital for most people — and you’re no different.

Learning to say “no” is also important. There is nothing in the lawyer’s “manual” to say that you must be available 24/7. Technology can help you handle client requirements and work more efficiently so that you don’t lose sight of the work-life balance you’re striving for,

If you work for an employer who doesn’t appear to value your mental health and wants to push you to the limits, you may be best off acknowledging this as soon as possible and moving on. Don’t stick around until you burn out.

11. Keep your legal knowledge up to date

After so long in law school, it can be tempting for recent graduates to think they know all they need to know.

A process of continuing education is the best policy for new lawyers. Why? Because the laws change frequently, no lawyer knows all they need to know.

Advice for Lawyers Legal Education

Reminding your opposing counsel that the rule they just cited changed two years ago is a great way to help you win a case for your client!

Don’t be the lawyer who gets left behind and is on the wrong end of one of those exchanges in the courtroom.

Attorney career advice: Start as you mean to go on

The legal industry is in the process of reshaping itself. This accelerated during the COVID pandemic, and even the court system has had to come on board.

More than ever, the opportunities with technology are changing what’s possible for new lawyers, making it an exciting time for anyone entering the profession.

You no longer necessarily need to make your name with an established law firm before branching out with your own business. The technology allows you to do that sooner than ever before and, if you get it right, compete on a more even playing field than ever before.

Start with these new lawyer tips, and you’ll be on the right path from the start.