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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2018

New Lawyers Jessica M. Zorn 5 Things New Lawyers Wish They Could Tell Experienced Lawyers It is no secret that the national bar is aging. The American Bar Foundation reported that in 1980, 36% of lawyers were age 34 or younger, compared to only 13% in 2005. Since 2005, declining law school applications, saturated markets and the burden of student loans have all contributed to a changing ratio between younger and older lawyers. It might be easy for a less experienced lawyer to get lost in the fray. However, especially in the world of litigation, “baby lawyers” (as we are affectionately and sometimes not-so-affectionately called) must constantly navigate situations with more experienced colleagues. Increased understanding on both sides may help those interactions become smoother and more productive, especially as the age gap widens. Some young attorneys – like myself – are lucky to have mentors, bosses and older co-workers who not only set good examples, but also openly share their wisdom, experience and insight. Not every new attorney is so fortunate, so any experienced lawyer who encounters a newbie should pass on the professional and cordial traditions of the Birmingham Bar, no matter how small the interaction is. Here are five simple things that many new lawyers wish they could tell experienced lawyers: 1. We appreciate your feedback and advice. Freshly minted attorneys try different tactics and strategies to find out what style of practice suits them and gets the best results. An inexperienced lawyer may need some help sorting through all the tactics they’re trying. If a young colleague solicits advice from you, please be honest and include constructive criticism as well as positive feedback. Even if you do not directly employ a younger attorney, your insight and feedback can help someone develop a personal style and philosophy about how to practice law. I know from personal experience that some of the most appreciated advice I’ve ever received came from opposing counsel once a case resolved. New lawyers also benefit from casual conversations with more experienced adversaries about the practice, the bar, judges and networking. Help us – please share your past experiences and insights. 2. We don’t know what we don’t know. We have all heard the stereotype: millennials are arrogant and lazy. Hopefully, every member of the Birmingham Bar has had enough interaction with young lawyers to know that the stereotype isn’t always true (especially since a young attorney’s main weapon is to out-prepare their opponent!). 18 Birmingham Bar Association


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2018
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