3 Tips for Newer Attorneys

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By Roxanne N. Thorelli

1. Find Your Passion

Why did you become an attorney? Is your job purposeful and fulfilling? Don’t forget to be introspective and ask yourself those questions yearly. It is important to reflect on why you joined the legal profession, consider your current work, and check yourself to see if you are content with your job.

Throughout our younger lives, we are so focused on doing well in school and graduation to achieve our goal of becoming attorneys. But, once you start working in the legal profession, you should still set goals for yourself, and the main goal should be to find happiness in what you do. You may spend half of the rest of your life working and you deserve a job that is challenging but also that inspires you.

You may start in one legal practice area and realize that you prefer the exact opposite. Or that you thought you wanted to work for a law firm and decide to work for the government or a business instead. Sometimes, we do not know what we actually want, and we need to experience it first to understand what we are truly looking for. It is okay if you change your mind or realize that the job was not what you originally envisioned. You should grow in and with the legal profession and where you work, which requires time for you to process. Take charge of your own life and determine what is best for you. Allow yourself to make a change. Free yourself from fitting into a mold based on other’s opinions and preferences and choose your own destiny.

Once you reflect, it is important to take action based on your decision. Talk to your mentor or a trusted adviser to discuss options. Then request accommodation from your employer for your preferences. If they are not open or able to accommodate you, consider looking externally for other positions. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to come to you; seek it out. You owe it to yourself and everything that you have sacrificed to be where you are to ensure that you are satisfied with your job.

2. Take Time for Yourself

What do you like to do outside of work? Have you been able to take the time to do those activities recently? You cannot bring your “A-game” to work if you are not mentally and physically well and present. American corporations have set a standard where vacation does not fit within the definition of success which the legal profession seems to support. But you are responsible for your health and your choices. You should understand what the expectations are for your position and then set boundaries with your employer and stick to them. Ensure that you are able to set aside time in your schedule to wind down from work each day and take time off from work when you need it. You do not need to explain yourself or reasoning for time off.

Young attorneys have a large learning curve, and it is important to prove yourself when you are new. But lawyering is a marathon and not a sprint. Don’t accept more work than you can handle and don’t let a job enslave you. You should check in with your supervisor if the workload is overbearing because only you know what is manageable for your health and your lifestyle.

3. Network and Build Relationships

When was the last time you created a new legal contact? How often do you reconnect with your colleagues? Despite difficulty due to the pandemic, it is even more important now to make new connections within the legal community. It is helpful to meet with other attorneys to understand what daily life looks like in the legal profession and what expectations are in the workplace, especially with the new-fangled remote life. As more attorneys are working from home, intentional conversations are necessary to stay connected.

I’ve found that Minnesota attorneys are generally friendly and are happy to share tips with you and encourage your growth. Schedule in-person or virtual coffees depending on comfortability and get to know those who you work with and others in the legal profession. Each person has a story to tell and experiences to share with you. You never know what advice may be crucial for your success, when a contact may be helpful for a future job opportunity, and if someone becomes a client, referral source, mentor, or even a friend. Continue to develop each relationship by following up a few times a year and reaching out when appropriate. It is easy and comfortable to sit home but take the initiative to meet someone new each month and you will be surprised what you learn and what doors open for you.


PIC- THL - ThorelliRoxanne N. Thorelli

Roxanne N. Thorelli is an M&A associate attorney at Fredrikson & Byron. She represents clients with mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity financing, corporate restructuring, and general corporate matters. Thorelli counsels private and public companies and private equity funds in many types of business transactions, completing key deal aspects such as drafting and negotiating contracts and purchase agreements, managing due diligence, conducting finance offerings and preparing corporate governance documents.


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