How to Survive Your First Year as a Lawyer

first year as a lawyer

So you’ve passed the bar and have been unleashed into the world. Everything is suddenly real now, and you aren’t sure how you’re going to survive it all. The following are a few tips to help you survive that first year as a lawyer.

Gather Support

An important thing to do during that first year is gathering support. You probably did a lot of networking while you were in law school, but this isn’t always the case. Try to meet more people. You can go to seminars with these professionals and talk to them about industry news. Look for mentors and offer your help as well. This is a give-and-take game, so keep that in mind. These folks will be there to refer clients to you and just help along the way.

Grow That List

That client list needs to grow, and it needs to grow fast. In the beginning, you won’t have many clients, which is okay, but you need to figure out how to reach more folks. There are a lot of things you can do, and it needs to be targeted. For example, divorce lawyers will need family law lawyer marketing to reach potential clients. Make sure the marketing plan you come up with includes digital marketing, not just traditional ads. The more folks you can reach, the higher the chances of gaining enough cases to sustain you.

You’re a Student

Remember that you’re still a student, and you will never stop being a student. Sometimes, law students graduate and think they don’t need additional help or be able to deal with everything without reaching out to others. This is not the case. The truth is you will encounter questions you won’t be able to answer. Use the support system you build every so often, and make sure you’re ready to dive into those law books if you want to survive this first year.


Bearing in mind that you are still looking to expand your client list and that you are still learning a lot of the practicalities and day-to-day working requirements of your new profession one of the best things you can do is to diversify the type of work you undertake. By opening up the field of work you practice daily you can expose yourself to different experiences and practices and broaden your knowledge range. Learning from a textbook and lecture theatre is one thing, but on-the-job training is one of the best ways to really absorb the lessons and develop the skills. Not to mention it will be a great addition to your resume. You will also be exposed to more people, that is more clients and more professionals. If you undertake a case in a different field to those you have normally been practicing you open yourself up to a new client base to tap into. Moreover, you also expose yourself to a different group of already established professionals who can learn from and work and network with. Making and retaining connections is after all part of the skillset required from a lawyer. You never know, you may even uncover a legal field you have an unknown passion for. So if you have spent the last year mediating over divorcing couples, why not push yourself out of the familiarity of the known and take on car accident law suits or real estate to diversify your legal knowledge and skillset. 

Look for Feedback

This is the year where you’ll be making some of your biggest mistakes, and that’s okay. Don’t get discouraged. You aren’t the only lawyer out there making them, but what you need to do is look for feedback. If you’re working for a big firm, then take note of all the notes given to you. When your superiors have the time to talk to you, ask for elaboration. You want to learn as much as you can from each mistake so that you don’t make those mistakes again. If you aren’t working for a firm, then talk to your mentor to see what critiques they can offer after each case you take on.

Digital Clean Up

Online reviews can make or break a business. You probably won’t have any right now, but even a few unattended bad reviews could hurt your chances as a lawyer. You need to make it a point to clean some of these up. You’ll want to not only look for all reviews, but you also want to respond to everything. If you’re responding to a bad review, make sure you speak from a place of care. Respond clearly. Don’t blame the client. Do what you can to stay as professional as possible because potential clients will judge you on your response.

There you have it. Now, you know what you need to do to survive this first year. Your mentor can give you additional advice, and be sure to take it because you’re going to need it.