After practicing law for 6 years, I realized confidence is a key element in being a successful attorney. Confidence comes with time and patience. In my first year of practice, I easily got bulldozed over by seasoned attorneys. I would lose sleep over oral arguments. I would prepare for hours. I was often undermined by opposing counsels and judges because of my petite stature and soft voice. I used to apologize to my senior attorneys for having too many questions. With time, I converted my “weaknesses” into my strength. My soft voice helped me get my arguments across and over the bellowing attorneys. In my fourth year of practice, a seasoned trial attorney lost to me in an issue hearing. I walked into my senior attorneys’ office with potential answers to questions and asked them for their thoughts. I opened my door to everyone who had questions. In six years, I grew as an attorney, and I am still evolving.
My advice to new lawyers: You’re going to make mistakes. Learn from them. Don’t apologize for making mistakes. Instead say “Thank you for pointing that out, what else do I need to know?” You will realize that what you learnt in law school is very different from the actual practice. The best way to learn is by asking questions. Don’t be afraid to knock on your boss or another associates door to ask questions. Simply ask “Is this a good time for a quick question?” You don’t know everything. It is okay to say “I need to look into it and get back to you.” Come back with potential answers and get their thoughts on it.
Network. Attend events via Zoom. Connect with attorneys on LinkedIn. Get a mentor.
Select CLE topics that interest you. This is a learning opportunity. Establish boundaries for a balanced work and personal life. Remember your health is your wealth. Make your mental health a priority. Make time for yourself. For more stories check out @thepixielawyer on Instagram.
Nabeela Hamid, Esq.
New Hyde Park, New York