5 Key Ways To Establish Yourself in Your New Legal Role
- April 28, 2019
Starting any new legal job can often be somewhat of a rollercoaster. On the one hand, you will no doubt be delighted that you have landed an exciting new role that is a great fit for you, and are looking forward to your future and career progression. However, on the other hand it is often a period in which you may feel a little out of place – at least initially.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to ensure you settle in quickly to both your new surroundings and team as well as tackle any potential stresses or concerns head on, and really start to establish yourself as a trusted colleague among your peers.
Utilise tools to help keep you organised
Getting and staying organised is not only essential for keeping on top of your general workload; it’s also a key to your career success and longevity, especially if you are aspiring to carve out an exceptional career for yourself as a high-performing legal professional.
Set up a system for categorising your emails as well as scheduling any ongoing tasks and projects. Most companies nowadays use a form of task-management software such as Monday, ClickUp or their own in-house platform. Ensure that you get adequate training on how to use this as it will undoubtedly enhance your productivity and help to keep on top of the many spinning plates.
If your law firm doesn’t use a dedicated task-management software, or doesn’t invest in any 3rd party software, you can always implement your own system. This might mean using your own planner app, or if you’re not the most tech-savvy, you could always do things the traditional way with a daily planner. Regardless of which system you choose, get yourself in the habit of coming up with a rough schedule for how you will go about tackling your tasks.
Set goals that push you – but are also realistic
It’s natural to want to impress when you’re starting a new role in law, and many feel it is par-for-the-course to go over and above in those reputation-building first few months. Yet, whilst it can be tempting to take on more than you can handle, there is a fine line to tread between throwing everything (and more) at the role, and also being realistic with yourself about your own limitations.
If the goals you’ve set for yourself are beyond your current capabilities, you’ll start to get frustrated and discouraged when you keep failing to get things done – this is a sure recipe for a career burnout. Even the most experienced employee is bound to fall short of a goal now and then; as a new hire, it’s going to take you time to learn the ropes of your new law firm. So, allow yourself the chance to learn during this transitional period and try to view your setbacks as a way to become a more efficient and knowledgeable employee.
Rather than cluttering your to-do-list with an excessive number of tasks every day, try to take things slow and celebrate every accomplishment. If you take on too much too soon, you’re likely to get buried and behind on the tasks that really matter. By focusing on your top few priorities each day, you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you’re able to clear your to-do list on a daily basis.
Find The Right Balance
When starting a new job that you really like, it can be tempting to throw yourself in headfirst. However, as with setting realistic professional goals, it’s just as important to establish realistic life goals. Don’t lose sight of your work/life balance. In other words, if you don’t make time for the things and people you love outside of work, you won’t be loving your new role for very long.
Finding the right balance between work and family is one of the most important ways to reduce job-related anxiety and completely getting off on the wrong foot. Making time for yourself and your loved ones, as well as disconnecting mentally from your job, will allow you to return to work refreshed. Try to schedule out your week in advance to ensure that you have time blocked out to unwind with family and friends. Setting this time aside will help ensure that you don’t get overly stressed or exhausted in your new role.
Make time to look after yourself
Just as crucial as finding the right balance between work and play is maintaining your physical, mental and emotional health. You should never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep and a healthy diet. Eating poorly and not getting enough sleep will only cause you to be tired and less productive, which may lead to stress in the workplace.
In addition to maintaining a proper diet and sleeping routine, one of the best ways to impact your physical and mental health is by staying active. This doesn’t mean that you have to join an expensive gym or punish yourself with an extreme workout. A simple routine of either a short yoga session or a quick run before you go to the office in the morning can simultaneously boost your confidence and improve your performance at work.
According to our latest Salary Survey over 14% of respondents had access to a cycle-to-work scheme, while 7% had subsidised gym membership as part of their wider benefits package. Even if neither of these elements are available to you with your new employer, it is likely there are various initiatives and services available to support your general health and wellbeing – make sure you take any logins, information, and the opportunity to engage where you can.
Invest in relationship-building from the get-go
While most firms have some sort of formal induction programme, you should never be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand how to do something – even after this initial period. For new starters, particularly those in larger firms, it’s possible that you will be placed with a mentor or someone you can go to with questions – don’t hesitate to seek out their help when you need it. While asking your co-workers or boss questions may feel like it shows weakness, actually lets your colleagues know you’re serious about understanding how things work, rather than trying to do something you aren’t sure of on your own.
Relationship-building is crucial in your first few months at a new place of work, and should be across the whole business if possible – with peers, managers, direct reports and any clients or service providers that you communicate with directly. By investing time in this, you will quickly build up trust and ‘social capital professionally’ that according to Danielle Allen from Building Impact, ‘will allow you to advance and contribute meaningfully to the organisation’s growth’.
Your first couple of months in a new role are likely to be a whirlwind of learning new processes, building relationships with colleagues, getting used to a new working environment, as well as getting on with the tasks at hand. No easy task – but hopefully with the support of your new employer, you’ll soon become a (valued and respected) part of the furniture.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.
If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help.
Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.