Every lawyer should have four qualities to run a successful practice: excellent legal skills, great client service, and the ability to find and retain the client. The main problem faced by young lawyers is that they receive very little or no training in business development. This is what makes, finding a client very challenging for them. In reality, no law school provides business training as a part of the LLB degree, it is considered to be outside the scope of legal education.
In this article, the author has discussed some main challenges that young lawyers face almost every day.
FINDING THE RIGHT COMMUNITY
There are a lot of students who are studying law but not all of them become successful lawyers. The key ingredient of being a successful lawyer is to be a part of a close-knit community. One must find such a community and try becoming a part of it, it will provide exposure and necessary experience. However, they may not accept you as one of them until they can sense the passion in you for the legal profession.
Finding the perfect community for yourself requires a lot of effort but it is worth it. The other way of finding the right community for yourself is by networking. If one has access to the right people, through your college seniors or alumni community it will be a great kickstart for your career. Legal Maxim also has a powerful community, with many progressive lawyers referring our work to each other from all corners of India and even abroad.
WORLD OF COURTS
The legal industry has no clear hierarchy or rule on how one should operate themselves, but there are plenty of unwritten rules which make a newcomer’s job quite difficult. Peer interactions and evaluations are greatly valued in the field of law. Sometimes, many discussions and interactions may feel bizarre but all of that will be helpful for future purposes.
Senior lawyers are surrounded by a vibrant ecosystem of clerks, office boys, court staff, and administrative staff who seems to speak a different language altogether. As a new entrant one might feel like a confused outsider in this fluid system, unaware of its functioning. This is fueled by the fact that members of this ecosystem will take time for adjusting to a new face and a confused voice.
A young lawyer might face instances wherein he/she is sent from one table to the next just to unearth a file that has been buried under multiple files in the scrutiny branch. There might be instances wherein the court clerk just refuses to let one see the order sheet as he/she is not on the vakalatnama. There might be instances where the Presiding Officer refuses to adjourn the matter and rather demands to hear the arguments of the junior (probably yourself) for the case.
The best way to handle these kinds of problems is to be patient and maintain one’s cool despite being tested repeatedly. One fine day, you will get comfortable with the chaos, buzz, and constant pressure and the legal life will make perfect sense to you.
IRREGULAR WORK HOURS
The legal profession is demanding and requires an individual to be switched ‘on’ all the time even while waiting in the court hall for the matter to be called out. It is not unusual for a junior lawyer to fall sick from sheer exhaustion, lack of sleep, and overwork. There is a strict timing when you must show up at the chamber to carry files to the court, but there is no telling when you are going home. If you get a few hours of sleep consider yourself extremely lucky. Lack of punctuality may not just cost one hearing, but may also cost a client his case.
However, keeping this up might become quite difficult as your work hours will become long and variable. Social life will take a hit and weekends will seem to be the only day that one can relax. The time spent at work will involve both physical and mental hardship leaving one’s body and mind exhausted at the end of the day. This might have a deliberating effect on one’s health. Therefore, it is essential as a fresher to take care of your health and be prepared mentally to work hard and over time you will get more accustomed to the hectic life ahead.
NO TANGIBLE RESULTS
A fresher is only accustomed to an effort-result approach which is generally very short. For example, participating in a competition and winning medals for it, studying for an exam, and passing it.
Therefore, the freshers expect to experience immediate, quantifiable results of activities undertaken and tasks completed during their work hours. Unfortunately, these unrealistic expectations might leave one disappointed when it comes to being a lawyer. This instant gratification of tangible results like a quantifiable evaluation or immediate rewards of one’s progress in a month or a year does not exist in this profession. The only certainty in this profession is that it will take a while to start earning even a subsistence wage.
As a young lawyer, you may not always be appreciated, but you will certainly be always judged for what you don’t know. The most common expectation is that a lawyer should be well informed and abreast of the latest developments in the social, political, and legal arena. They not only need to be knowledgeable about the legal case that has turned up, but they must even be able to enthusiastically participate in the banter and trivia that lawyers are always engaging. As a lawyer one is often revered for his/ her vast knowledge bank, a fresher must ensure that this voracious reading becomes an inextricable part of his/her daily life.
SLOW PACE OF LEARNING
The learning in the law profession is very slow in most chambers. Busy seniors have barely a few minutes to talk to you in a day, and they rarely have a deliberate system geared towards training you. The most effective way of learning is through trial and errors, a lot of stumbling, an earful of scolding, insults, and many embarrassing moments. Try absorbing the knowledge against all odds through sheer determination, keep your head down, and soldier on for few years till you can stand on your own.
One of the most difficult challenges in the legal profession is to learn how to manage/deal with clients, clerks, court staff, or colleagues (seniors and peers alike). It becomes more challenging when it involves a need for different masks in front of different individuals.
The best way to learn these kinds of management skills is to obverse the senior lawyers very closely or by taking an online course on Coursera or any other platform. It will help young lawyers to build good habits and develop a powerful vision about the future of their practice.
Most of the young lawyers do not know where to start the process of finding clients. The best way to do so is to have a mentor (a senior lawyer) who can take them along to client meetings. They can provide advise on how the partner’s practice developed and act as a mentor to help the younger lawyers get started. Sadly, this happens very rarely.
The best way to make someone a mentor is to have your internship under him/her and get to know them at the same time. They will understand your capability and if you are good enough they will take you under their guidance.
My two cents for all the young lawyers are: be determined and work your way through failures, and never be afraid to learn new things.