Being a junior lawyer can be an exciting, yet challenging journey. From the long hours spent researching legal issues to the complex technical legal issues you are now expected to take on, there's no shortage of obstacles to face. But if you're up for the challenge, being a junior lawyer can also be incredibly rewarding.
Photo by @Shkrabaanthony
The experience of private practice and in-house lawyers will be different but there are a few things that consistently come up as the challenges that junior lawyers face.
The long hours
Being a lawyer can be a demanding and overwhelming job and for some people the long hours culture still exists. You can often find yourself working late into the night and early in the morning, staying up to finish research, paperwork, or formulising legal advice.
On top of the work you do for your clients, you’ll need to stay up-to-date on relevant laws, changes in the field, and new cases and understand some of the complex legal issues you are working on so you can end up spending more time reading and researching.
You may also find yourself attending events or conferences related to your practice area, which could extend your hours even more. As exhausting as this may sound, it’s important to remember that these hours will pay off in the long run, as you learn to develop those all-important soft skills, become an expert in your field and start to build your own network.
It's no lie, there definitely is a lot of pressure. You’re expected to work with tight deadlines and little margin for error. On top of that, there is pressure from clients, senior lawyers, and partners. You may also be dealing with difficult personalities or uncooperative clients. whilst maintaining professional composure in these situations and remain dedicated to finding solutions that are in the best interests of your client.
Junior lawyers gain invaluable experience by having to handle complex legal matters, interact with clients and develop problem-solving skills and with the guidance of experienced lawyers, junior lawyers are exposed to different perspectives and learn how to effectively manage competing interests and prioritize tasks.
At the end of the day, despite the overwhelming stress and pressure associated with being a junior lawyer, those who put in the hard work reap great rewards. Not only do they gain valuable legal knowledge and insight, they also get the satisfaction of knowing they have been instrumental in helping someone else achieve a positive outcome.
The need to be constantly learning
One of the biggest challenges for any junior lawyer is the need to constantly be learning. As a junior lawyer, you are entering an extremely competitive industry and must remain up-to-date with changes in law, regulations, and court decisions. This can be daunting and time consuming, but it is necessary in order to provide the best legal advice possible.
As a junior lawyer, the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a deal, project or complex legal advice and knowing that you are on your way to developing a long-term career.
As junior lawyers we can forget that we are not expected to know everything, it's a process of developing transferable skills and technical legal knowledge. Gaining knowledge and experience through experience ultimately leads to more doors opening and potentially lucrative career opportunities further down the line.