20 Professionalism Tips for Millennial Attorneys

Posted on 08-31-2015 by
Tags: new lawyers , Law school , Law School Faculty , law students , Latest Headlines & Stories

We are all capable of learning new things and we all should be open to learning new things too. I mean knowledge is power, right? (At least that’s what ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ taught me). So listen up millennials in the legal profession, these tips from 2civility are for you:

1. Remember that you are the newest person on the team

While you may be eager to speak up and contribute upon your arrival, remember that passivity and submissiveness is a sign of respect to many people of the older generation.

2. Listen first

Attorney’s talk for a living so the best thing you want to do is listen to what senior attorneys are telling you. Doing this illustrates respect to those speaking. This is a key skill that will help you throughout your career.

3. Incorporate feedback into your work

Accept criticism and use it positively to create a changed work product or behavioral style. Doing so shows others you are mature, capable of growth and that you respect their opinion.

4. Project confidence, not arrogance

There is a difference between coming off as a confident lawyer and an arrogant one. Make sure you are coming off as the first of the two.


5. Triple spell- and grammar-check everything

You should have no excuse for poor spelling and grammar. Always proofread your work by triple-checking your spelling and grammar before submitting it.

6. Be aware of your professional dress

Older employees may have unspoken rules when it comes to dress code so always err on the conservative side. Dress professionally. Like they say “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.”

7. Limit your personal screen time

Don’t spend hours on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The hours you work and bill belong to the firm and the client.

8. Know your audience

Understand the needs of the person to whom you are reporting. For example, a senior partner usually wants important highlights quickly, while a younger associate may want more details in your report.

9. Respond to communications promptly, respectfully and in the same medium you received them

If you get a voicemail, don’t respond with an email. (Unless text messaging is specifically initiated by your partner or client) Don’t use text messages as your mode of communication.

10. Learn to navigate the organization’s culture

Every company has an organizational culture. Spend your first couple months listening, observing and learning those norms so you can change your behavior accordingly.

11. Create to-do lists to maximize efficiency

You will often have multiple projects to do during your limited time. Creating to-do lists will allow you to better manage your time which will allow you to handle all commitments effectively.

12. Make sure you manage expectations

Make sure to never over-commit yourself. Doing so will lead to you putting out sub-par work for people who expect better work from you. Better to under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise and under-deliver.

13. If you don’t know, ask

If you don’t know something, never be afraid to ask. While the millennial generation gets ripped for asking too many questions, it is important to fully understand the task at hand before tackling it.

14. Treat all staff with respect and courtesy

We were all taught this growing up – treat others the way you would like to be treated. The same goes as an adult.


15. Always follow the ethical path

Lawyers have many ethical rules they have to follow. It’s key to learn and apply these rules to your daily routine.


16. Engage in your legal community

Take advantage of the numerous bar associations, alumni groups and community organizations outside of your school and immerse yourself in your greater legal community.


17. Manage your finances

While student debt is a huge part of your finances, they are not your entire finances. Learn about savings, retirement funds, investment portfolios, mortgages, and (if applicable), childcare costs and college tuition plans. All of these will play a big role in your financial picture throughout your life.


18. Keep track of your accomplishments

As you progress throughout your career, keep track of memoranda, projects, reviews, recommendations, etc. Keep track of anything that demonstrates how you have positively developed as a professional.


19. Challenge yourself

Challenge yourself to be creative and innovative. Learn about your company or firm and always be willing to offer new ideas and tackle new projects. Don’t be content with a passable job.


20. Find a mentor

Find someone who can offer you career advice, sponsor your success and stay a friend and guide throughout your career. While it may take time to find a match, the pay-off will be worth it.


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