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Junior lawyer’s expectations vs. reality

22 June 2017

One of the main challenges facing law graduates and junior lawyers in the current employment market is to land a job in their preferred area of practice. Competition for jobs in the legal industry is fierce. Jobs are scarce and securing an interview can take months. Only those graduates who have worked hard to stand above the rest through a combination of excellence in academic performance and industry-related experience will enjoy the luxury of carving their own career path.

For the rest, however, choices will be limited to grabbing the first job that comes up, irrespective of the practice area or firm. While this can be a hard reality check for those who went through law school expecting to go into their dream job and firm fresh out of university, new lawyers must equip themselves with resilience and strategies to keep their dreams afloat.

It may not happen right away, but it can still happen

If you are in the latter group outlined above, do not panic! Getting a job outside your preferred area of practice is not fatal to your career progression. It is actually quite the contrary. What matters the most in law is practical experience and knowledge. Working alongside experienced lawyers who can mentor you and show you the ins and outs of the profession will definitely pay off in the future.

In your new job, show initiative, professionalism and never be afraid to put your hand up to take on tasks, and when you do, be sure to complete them to the best possible standard so that you become a trusted asset to your employer. From this position, it is easier to negotiate your career progression, and if you want to move to greener pastures, then you can be confident of a sterling reference from your employer.

Build your skills as well as your employee qualities

If you are keen to jump ship, then make sure you go to something better (money is important but job satisfaction is priceless!) Remember that competition for jobs is giving employers the benefit of choice when it comes to recruiting, so use your time as a junior lawyer to build the sort of knowledge and professional qualities which can add value to a firm.

On the other hand, prospective employers should strive to provide work environments that are satisfying, inspirational, modern and the reward hard work accordingly, in order to keep talent in their team. A highly engaged and motivated team of professionals is far more effective for all parties.

If you’re a junior lawyer looking to get ahead of the pack, consider adding depth to your knowledge and qualifications with a specialised Master of Laws (LLM) from Southern Cross University. Our online LLM delivers skills, knowledge and real-world experience to help you take the next, important step in your career. Call our Advisors on 1300 589 882.