Advice for the new attorney can be summed up by one quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do one thing everyday that scares you.”
As a newly minted lawyer, there could be many things that scare you. But remember…you got yourself through law school and the bar exam, you can conquer any new obstacle.
3 Main Fears: Going to Court, Public Speaking, and Networking
Going to Court
One mentor I had recommended that every practicing attorney should be required to go to court and face a judge. Why? Well, he reasoned, after that experience, nothing else would be as terrifying. My first foray into court was fraught with worry, especially minor details such as: Do attorneys really say ‘may it please the court’ or is that just on TV? Thankfully, it turned out well. The judge appreciated that I was prepared, professional and courteous despite my nervousness. Most judges are not out to get you as long as you are prepared. If you have never been to court before, I suggest sitting in a few trials to get a sense of what happens and what is expected. Elizabeth K. Barton also has sage advice for those heading to court in her article, To the Young Lawyer: Tips for Court Appearances.
According to a 2011 Forbes Article, only 10% of people are comfortable speaking in public. That leaves 90% of us who get butterflies before addressing an audience. The good news is that, as a lawyer, you are good at communication. Now all you have to do it get over your nerves. The more chances you have to do public speaking, the easier it will be. You don’t get worse at public speaking, you will only improve. It is important to prepare but be flexible. No one in the audience expects perfection. They are there because they are interested in what you have to say. The Harvard Division of Continuing Education Professional Development presents helpful tips in the article by Marjorie Lee North, 10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills.
While it may be uncomfortable to put yourself out there, you need to. You must learn to sell yourself and your practice in order to be successful. However, if you look at it the right way, you are making important connections for you and for others. Attorney Vincent Roldan has 10 great tips for networking in his article, Networking Tips for Young Lawyers.
If you are an introvert, this can be especially daunting. However, if you treat an upcoming networking event like a legal matter and prepare, you will find yourself making connections and perhaps even enjoying yourself. Read the article by ShiftWorkPlace, Networking tips and tricks for wallflowers: What to do before, during, and after an event.
Facing your fears makes you a stronger attorney and, in turn, a better advocate for your clients. Once you get over these or other fears, you will be unstoppable.
And for those seasoned attorneys, what was your worst fear as a new attorney? How did you overcome it? Please comment below.
Want more tips and advice for your awesome law practice? Check out Law Office on a Laptop, Second Edition: How to Set Up Your Own Successful Law Mobile Law Practice.