This month I had the opportunity to share a little bit about my experience insofar being an attorney in latest issue of The Grand Rapids Lawyer Newsletter a publication by the Grand Rapids Bar Association. You can read it below or follow the link here to read it on The Grand Rapids Lawyer Newsletter website.
Practice Pointers: Building a Community
I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary as a licensed attorney. This year has been the culmination of twenty plus years of school, more loans than I care to think about, and one giant test. I (naively) thought it was now time to enjoy the fruits of my labor. However, in reality, this first year has required more dedication and perseverance then all of those years in school. There is no guidance counselor to tell me the next class or a teacher to assign the next project. Therefore, I believe that one of the most important things I can do as a young attorney is establish myself in the legal community. The top three tips I can provide to young attorney (and some more seasoned ones) are:
Find a mentor.
Go to lunch.
Finding a mentor. From my perspective, finding a mentor is the number one most important thing you can do as a new attorney. The practice of law is filled with pitfalls, back alleys, and other unknown dangers. Experience can be wisdom in this field. There are some fields where the latest, greatest, and newest ideas work the best. However, the practice of law requires dealing with people and learning how people act. I have been very lucky to work with a seasoned attorney. Mentoring attorneys can be great resources and possibly life-long friends. The Grand Rapids Bar offers great opportunities to find and match mentor attorneys. Also, don’t be afraid to approach a more seasoned attorney, they may be happy to talk with you.
Go to Lunch (or happy hour) In my year as an attorney, I have made it a point to try and meet with other attorneys for quick meetings. A breakfast or lunch, a coffee, or even a drink. I cannot stress the importance of building one-on-one personal relationships. I understand that asking to get together can seem potentially embarrassing, but I have yet to be turned down by a fellow attorney. Remember that these are your fellow practitioners. They may someday be your future boss, friend, associate, opposing counsel or judge.
Get involved. Get involved! This is now your community. The more involved you are the better it, and you, will be. Take time to get involved in the local boards, practice sections, and organizations. The Grand Rapids Bar sponsors many great seminars, programs, and happy hours; and all are designed to help educate and make us, as a whole, a better legal community. Additionally, the contacts that you build through working with these various groups will only help to make you a better practitioner. I understand how our lives can get in the way, but this is our community and we should strive to make it the best we can.
These are a few tips that I have attempted to implement into my own practice. Good luck and I hope to one day grab a cup of coffee with you.