20 PIECES OF ADVICE FOR THE YOUNG LAWYER (& THE REST OF US): WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
This week I have been concentrating on advice given by judges to lawyers. We are now moving on to advice given by lawyers for lawyers. I have selected twenty from dozens (possibly hundreds) of tweets given when I asked on Twitter what advice would people give to young lawyers. This particular post led to the blog being mentioned in the Times and the Today Programme on Radio 4 – Paul Nichol’s guide for advocates (see below) gained a lot of attention. After reading these feel free to go back and read the original post. There is only a small selection of the guidance involved.
The Secret Barrister @BarristerSecret
Be kind to people. Few can expect to be the best lawyer in the room, but anyone can be the nicest.
Dan Herman @DanielJHerman
1. Don’t use emotive language. 2. Lawyers don’t “think”, “feel” or “believe”: they “take the view”. 3. Attendance notes, attendance notes, attendance notes. 4. Never assume what your client’s instructions will be. 5. No client or case is worth your practising certificate
Silk Legal @SilkLegal1st
For those starting out……Law is a business. Make yourself an asset not a liability. Clients don’t always tell you everything. Practice defensively.
Sue James @sue_james1
When conducting a home visit always choose a hard surface to sit on.
1. Don’t use big words or legalese if you aren’t comfortable with it or don’t know what it means. Getting it wrong makes you look foolish, which damages your professional credibility. Simplicity is persuasive, and more likely to work for you. #lawlifeforU
Nικος Ξυδιας @Greekbluenose
Don’t wear themed ties or wacky socks.Always treat Court staff with courtesy & respect. Move on from good & bad results quickly. Ask for help if you need it. Admit to mistakes & learn from them.Make good tea. Read the room before cracking jokes.Folks have long memories – be kind.
Lucy Reed @Familoo
Don’t get over excited. calm is effective. channel your passion – don’t let it control you. (I am a complete hypocrite by the way but just do as I say and pretend you haven’t noticed)…
Lucy Mills #FBPE @lucyemills
One of my boss’s favourites – when corresponding with the other side, treat every letter/email as if it will one day come before the court #lawlifeforU
Caroline Hooton @carolinehooton
Admit when you don’t know something and need to look it up. You look like a thundertwit if you chunter a load of bullshit that you then have to retreat from at a later date. Also don’t be afraid to give advice and an opinion. That’s what you’re being paid for.
Some clients will tell you an account and the entire thing will be a lie (I know this is obvious but you can’t imagine the amount of people who believe everything clients say and are then left shocked and confused when they discover they’ve been lied to) #lawlifeforU
Hilary Wetherell @hilarywetherell
Make a real effort to find the answer before asking others; resources and information are more accessible today than they have ever been #lawlifeforU
Treat ushers and HMCTS admin staff with kindness and respect. You never know when you might need an adjournment, case put back, photocopy etc. These are people that have the ear of the judge and listing staff. Rudeness to court staff is the height of stupidity.
Charlotte John @LottieJohn1
Don’t berate yourself over perceived mistakes, it’s impossible to think clearly when you’re beating yourself up. Be kind to yourself and ask – is it really a mistake, does it matter, can I do anything to put it right, can I learn from this?
Heidi Li Feldman @HeidiLiFeldman
Avoid getting into money trouble of your own; live beneath your means. Financial pressure undoes good judgment.
Colm Nugent @Wigapedia
If you are faced with an ethical dilemma, and are unsure what to do. Imagine yourself explaining your action (or inaction) to the Bar Council in a disciplinary hearing. The degree of discomfiture (or confidence) that you feel, is an excellent guide as to what you should do.
paul nicholls @paulnicholls
My best advice in advocacy is to imagine the judge is slightly hard of hearing, bored, and a bit daft. Elevating your voice, keeping it simple and coherent, and talking slower than you think you need, has the benefit of keeping you on track, able to understand, and coherent.
Sarah, Essex Wonder @smayman
Be the person who helps colleagues out when all their deadlines fall on the same day. It will happen to you eventually and you’ll be grateful for them helping you out. You’re a team.
Michael Ranson @michaelranson
Your client rightly expects you to know what the law is and rightly expects you to be clever. Don’t bang on about those things. The route to impressing people – clients and opponents – is often to be kind, available, comprehensible and empathetic.
Thomas Long @ThomasMLong
Be courteous & respectful with your opponents. Rarely is anything gained by being aggressive or obstructive with your opposite number. Ultimately, you’re both doing a job and seeking the best for your respective clients.
Jenna Kisala @jennakisala