The good news for new attorneys is that most of the mistakes that you are at risk of making can be avoided with the right mentorship and by establishing healthy work habits from the beginning.
The first few years of practice are likely to determine the trajectory of your career as a personal injury attorney. It is therefore important to spend them wisely and seek out opportunities to grow your skills and knowledge. You will have to learn to balance a demanding workload with your health and wellness. Managing all of the logistics can also be challenging for up-and-comers navigating personal injury claims for the first time.
When it seems as if you are in over your head, it is important to remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with asking for help from those who have more experience. The biggest mistake you can make is to miss out on the skills, knowledge, and strategies that you can learn from your more experienced colleagues.
As you set out to navigate the early years of your career as a personal injury attorney, there are many factors to keep in mind on your path to success. Below are a few common mistakes made by new attorneys and how you may go about avoiding them:
Failing to Network with Attorneys in Your Area
As a new attorney in the field of personal injury law, there is a lot you stand to learn and gain from working closely with the more experienced attorneys in your law firm. By failing to network, you will miss out on vital knowledge, proven strategies, and useful tips from those who are already seasoned attorneys. You may also be missing out on referrals, which is an important part of networking, especially for up-and-coming attorneys who do not yet have a client base. Your colleagues who have been in the business for a substantial amount of time will already have a trusted clientele and may be able to refer clients to you when their plates are full.
Attorney Jason Maier of mgalaw.com suggests the following:
“Surround yourself with people whom you can learn from and who bring value into your life and career. Find someone that you admire, enjoy working with, and who is interested in the same types of cases as you. Make a connection with them and ask if they would be willing to act as a mentor when you have questions or need advice on how to handle a difficult case. Having someone with a wealth of knowledge in your corner will be an asset to your career in the long run.”
Taking on Too Many Clients
You may be eager to take on as many cases as possible to get your career kick started as a new personal injury attorney and to start gaining experience in negotiation and litigation. Taking on too much, however, can be your downfall. Having too many cases to handle at once may lead to poor attorney-client communication, inadequate case investigation, scheduling mistakes, and essentially create a bad reputation for yourself as ineffective counsel.
Attorney Todd Kawecki of kaweckilaw.com asserts:
“If you’re willing to take a case, be committed enough to do it well, including investigating and verifying all the facts. It is important to create a work-life balance and only take on the number of cases you can effectively manage to ensure that your clients receive the representation they deserve.”
Being a personal injury attorney is a career full of various pressures and stressors. It’s hard work, and you won’t be able to do your job properly if you are constantly overworked and burned out.
Opening a Solo Firm Too Soon
Another common mistake that many new attorneys make is attempting to break away to open up a solo law firm too soon. Working for yourself and being the boss of your own firm can be very attractive, but you will miss out on all the knowledge and skills that experienced attorneys at an established law firm can offer you. Opening your own law firm requires substantial capital, large-scale marketing, acquiring the right location, and having an established network.
Starting your own law firm requires you not only to be a great lawyer but also to have the skills to run a business. On the topic of opening your own law firm, attorney Michael Waks of michaelwaks.com asks, “Are you committed to being a business owner and leader—not just an attorney?”
While you are still learning all of the ins and outs of being a good personal injury attorney, it’s a good idea to stay with an established law firm so you can learn from your colleagues and build a network for yourself. First, focus on mastering being a good, well-rounded, knowledgeable personal injury attorney before going off on your own, and enjoy having experienced colleagues in the office from whom you can learn.
Absence on Social Media
As a new attorney, you will need to build a network of your own from scratch. Being absent on social media could set you back in terms of connecting with potential clients, keeping in touch with existing clients, lead generation, referrals, and making new connections. Creating a broad social network presence is vital to get noticed as a newcomer. As said by attorney Pratheep Sevanthinathan of sevafirm.com:
“Don’t see social media as merely a means of marketing yourself; see it as creating relationships. Your social media platform is the ideal space to let your target audience know who you are, what services you offer, and where you are based. It is a great avenue to advertise yourself, befriend other attorneys, join relevant associations, and get your name out into the world. It may be a good idea to team up with a talented digital marketer who can help you to create an effective digital footprint and a strong online persona that people can connect with and relate to.”
The good news for new attorneys is that most of the mistakes that you are at risk of making can be avoided with the right mentorship and by establishing healthy work habits from the beginning. While you are still finding your feet as a personal injury attorney, take it slow, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Always take advantage of opportunities for networking and learning where you can, as strong connections and knowledge are key to success.