Guest Blog by @Catrin_Mills : New Lawyers ‘Know Thy Self’

@Catrin_Mills is an Employment lawyer, writer. Passionate about coaching and mentoring for the legal profession. Director of TheLawyercoach.
What makes a great lawyer?
@legaleagleMHM has posed this question in her excellent blog, and I’m pleased to be able to join the debate amongst such great blogging company as @UKlegaleagle and @legalbizzle.
We have heard about the importance of seeing the bigger picture and of bringing outside experience to the practice of law. I couldn’t agree more. I am always impressed by trainees who can see the broader context to a legal problem or who can see a client’s perspective. It’s not all about knowing statutes and case-law.For me though, one thing which differentiates a great lawyer from a good lawyer is not a lawyer who knows the law or who knows about business (although of course both are important), but a lawyer who first and foremost knows themselves. A career in law is a journey. You need to learn what your strengths are, and your weaknesses. What do you care about? What are your values? What’s important to you in life?
How many interviewees when asked “Why do you want to be lawyer?” will say, “Because I love the law”? … Really? I don’t buy it. I am far more impressed by a candidate who is honest about what they want to do and why.
There are so many ways to practice law these days, and so many areas to specialise in, it’s a time of opportunity for graduates. As you approach the world of work you might well just be hoping for a job when the time comes (a job, any job!) but having the confidence to see a longer term vision will make you more credible and appealing as a candidate. It gives you direction.
And if you don’t find yourself propelled into a perfect training contract, don’t worry. Spend time accumulating the valuable experience other bloggers have talked about and learning what’s right for you. Thankfully, being a lawyer no longer involves fitting into a mould. As those at the forefront of legal blogging are proving, success in law is favouring the imaginative and the courageous. It isn’t essential to have a game plan perfectly mapped out, but equally, don’t feel like you should compromise your values to follow a direction which feels wrong.
What you’re aiming for is to be true to yourself. Sound a bit fluffy? Not at all. A lawyer who has authenticity – who knows why they’re doing what they’re doing – is genuinely committed to their work because it aligns entirely with their own values. That means they will naturally exhibit that confidence and enthusiasm to their clients, colleagues and their employers. It’s a recipe for success.

Many Thanks to Catrin Mills for brilliant advice for new lawyers
you can follow Catrin on Twitter @Catrin_Mills
Read her blog here

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