Working as a lawyer requires an understanding of the law and a willingness to abide by various laws based on the type of services you provide and the area of law you specialize in. As a new attorney, familiarizing yourself with a list of mistakes that are commonly made by those who are new to the system is essential. The more familiar you are with the common list of mistakes that many new lawyers and attorneys make today, the easier it will be for you to prevent yourself from making them while at work or once you begin representing clients officially for legal matters.
Not Asking for Help
On the list of mistakes commonly made by new attorneys, simply not asking for help when it is needed is one of the biggest issues. Whenever you are offering an attorney service, there will likely come a time when you may need to turn to other attorneys or experts in the law for assistance, especially if you are unsure of where to go with a particular client or case you’ve taken on and are currently representing. Not asking for help can cause you to lose your case or to have it dismissed by a judge in a court of law, depending on the type of case you have taken on and the area of law you practice regularly.
Asking for help can be done by consulting with other lawyer friends you have networked with or done business with in the past, especially if you can trust them or consider them as your own personal friends. You can also ask for help by asking other specialists who work with law enforcement or those who understand the ins and outs of regional and international laws. Knowing who to turn to when you find yourself in a time of need can have a significant impact on the choices you make when you are representing your clients in front of a judge or even in front of an entire jury.
Taking Too Many Vacations
Unfortunately, taking too many vacations can also lead to issues if you are working as a new attorney independently or even for another law firm in your local area or region. Taking too many vacations by visiting beach resorts and not tending to the needs and demands of your clients is a surefire way to lose out on potential future cases while also tarnishing the relationship you have with any existing clients. If you are thinking of planning a vacation as a new attorney, it is best to do so by preparing ahead of time and clearing the time with anyone you work with, including any other law partners who also represent your current firm or practice.
When you want to plan a vacation, it is courteous to inform your existing clients of your intention to do so, especially if you may need to assist them with paperwork or even appear in court for a trial. Communication is key when you are working as a lawyer, regardless of whether you are doing so on your own independently or if you are working for a major law firm in your current area. Clearing vacation time ahead of time is also imperative to avoid interfering with any ongoing cases you have taken on and are currently managing.
Refusing to Admit Mistakes
To top the list of mistakes made by new attorneys, refusing to admit that you have made one is a big issue. Whether you are representing a client who owns a roofing company or you are working with a major tech giant, you will need to learn how to admit mistakes when you make them as an attorney. Refusing to admit mistakes will not only tarnish the reputation you have locally and among your own clients, but it will also make it increasingly difficult to network with other legal professionals who are more honest and upfront about when they make a mistake.
No Professional Development
Not tending to your own professional development is also an issue that lands on the list of mistakes often made by new attorneys. Even after you’ve graduated from law school and earned your ability to practice law, you will still need to tend to more professional development as the years pass and as new laws are put into effect. Whether you represent a construction company or you are working for a local school board, you will need to stay updated with legal issues, cases, and landmark trials. To do so, enrolling in professional development courses or classes is highly recommended, which can be done both locally and online, depending on where you live and practice.
Not Reading Enough of the Law
If you’re currently reviewing a list of mistakes commonly made by new lawyers and attorneys, keep in mind that many who graduate from law school fail to keep up with the current laws and changes. Not reading enough of the law can spell disaster when it comes time to represent a mold remediation company or when you are assisting a client who has been wrongfully injured or harmed during a medical procedure. When you are not well-read by the current laws, you are much more likely to make mistakes when it is time to create a strategy for the client you represent at the time.
Too Much Gossip
Gossiping about others or talking about other legal partners and attorneys in your city or state can be a major issue as a new attorney, especially if you are practicing law for the first time and you are introducing yourself to a particular city or region. When you are known as a gossiper by your local pediatric office or even members of your local community, you may begin to notice that it is increasingly difficult to garner new clientele. If those in your community believe that you are a gossiper, they may find it much more difficult to place their own trust in you when it comes time to seek the legal representation they need in front of a judge or in any court of law.
Respecting others and avoiding gossip is imperative as a lawyer, especially as attorneys are required by law to protect sensitive information regarding their clients and cases. If you are someone who is unable to keep secrets or if you have a habit of gossiping, going into the field of law may not be the best option for you. Avoiding gossip and maintaining a professional reputation in the court of public opinion is imperative for anyone who is thinking of working in the field of law in any capacity, especially when you intend to do so as an attorney or even by representing another law firm near you.
One of the biggest issues on the list of mistakes that many new attorneys make today is ignoring criticism. Unfortunately, many who graduate from law school may feel as if they know all areas of the law, which is simply not true in most instances. Because the law varies by state and by different sectors, it is important not to believe you know everything there is to know about the law when you are fresh out of law school and just beginning your own career. Whether you are an attorney who represents auto insurance companies or the individuals who use insurance from the companies, it is important to accept criticism and learn how to work with it, especially when it is provided to you by other colleagues who are also attorneys.
Taking the time to assess constructive criticism you receive as a lawyer can go a long way in building your character and allowing you to learn even more about the law. Immersing yourself in the field of law without becoming defensive will also strengthen connections with other attorneys you work with near you. Admitting mistakes and taking criticism into consideration will help you create a stellar reputation years, if not decades, into the future.
Getting Burned Out
When you are reviewing the biggest list of mistakes that attorneys make, getting burned out is a major problem. Spending too much time working and not enough time tending to your family life, social life, and even your own mental health can cause you to burnout and, in some cases, spiral into depression or a nervous breakdown. When you are taking on strenuous cases and clients, you will need to know when the right time is to decompress and walk away for a bit. From representing union electricians to individuals who have been hurt or injured in accidents, there are many reasons why lawyers quickly become burned out when they are not paying attention to their own needs.
Getting on a Judge’s Bad Side
As an attorney, you will quickly discover that getting on a judge’s bad side may not bode well for you or the clients you bring into the courtroom to represent. Lawyers spend plenty of time getting to know local judges, district attorneys, and prosecutors, which is why it is so important to make positive and healthy connections with those who are working in the legal system where you intend to work. Whether you’re seeking a bail bond for a client or if you believe all charges brought against your client should be dropped, the task will become increasingly challenging if you are negotiating with a judge who is not fond of you and how you handle your cases and clients.
Any time you are taking on a new client and case, it is advisable to take a bit of time to familiarize yourself with the judge who will be presiding over the courtroom. Understanding more about the judge you will be in front of can also help with navigating how you intend to present the case and any evidence you have gathered to help exonerate your client or prove their side of the story. When you are familiar with local judges and those who may be in a courtroom at any given time, you can strategize knowing you are making the right decisions every step of the way.
Lying to Clients
Lying to clients is one of the biggest issues that can be made by any attorney and is often done by new lawyers. Lying to a client is one of the fastest ways to lose out on clients while creating a negative reputation for yourself as a legal representative or even as an entire law firm, depending on where you live and who you represent at the time. As an attorney, you should always prioritize being honest with your clients, whether you are representing an independent contractor or someone who owns and operates a local auto repair garage. Regardless of the type of cases you take on and accept, you will want to ensure honesty at all times when you are communicating with your clients, even if you do not believe their case will be ruled in their favor.
Being honest with any of the clients you take on and represent can also go a long way in the opposite direction of lying to them. Because most clients and customers today appreciate honesty and transparency over deception, simply being honest and straightforward may garner additional positive attention and the referrals of new clients well into the future. When the public believes you are truthful and honest, it will be much easier for you to earn a living as a lawyer. If you build a reputation on lies and deception, you may find it increasingly difficult to attract clients with the types of cases you are most interested in representing in a court of law.
Reviewing a list of mistakes that are commonly made by new attorneys is always recommended when you are thinking of applying for law school or if you are already working as a lawyer in any field of law. The more familiar you are with various mistakes that are commonly made by new law firms and independent attorneys, the easier you will find it to navigate the legal system without putting your career in jeopardy at any point and time. When you are self-aware of the decisions you make as an attorney, you can guarantee a much better outcome for the client you represent and the case you are taking on.