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Advice for New Lawyers

This week, a brand new lawyer started at Rawls Law Group - brand new as in she took the Bar a month ago and will not have the results until mid-October.

Of course, this got me thinking about what to tell someone just starting out. In no particular order, here are some of my thoughts:

* Never try to hide a mistake or problem. Errors are going to happen. When they do it's important to fix or mitigate the problem - and learn something too.

* No excuses. Own your efforts, good or not good.

* It is always better to be someone who needs to be reeled in now and then than someone who needs to be prodded. "No one told me to..." is not a line which will ever play well.

* Litigation is driven by case facts. Our facts are medical. You have to learn them, frustrating and almost impossible as it seems at the start.

* Learn from the non-lawyers in the firm. Listen to them. They know what they are doing.

* Be as courteous to the newest assistant as you are to the senior partner.

* Law is a judgment business. Judgment requires you to make decisions and offer opinions. Don't get paralyzed by the fear of being wrong. Make real decisions and offer real opinions.

* Work on developing a keen sense of knowing what you don't know.

* Fear of failure will cripple you. Take chances. Yes, you'll fail from time to time, sometimes even spectacularly. More often, you will not.

* Ask questions. Look for the why and not just the how.

* You need to learn a lot in the first couple of years. It will not always be easy but you can do it. However, the learning never stops.

* Think like an owner, not an employee.

* Be honest in all you do. People need to be able to take you at your word. Always.

* Integrity matters and a reputation for lacking integrity will destroy you in this business.

There is so much more, but these are some good starting points.


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