1. Brick by brick
Greatness takes time, don’t rush. Understand that volunteering, clerk and paralegal roles are all a part of your legal training. In one of my first legal roles, I was copying and pasting schedules in contracts. At the time, I found the work mundane. But, in hindsight, the experience taught me about recitals, how clauses are drafted and the importance of proofreading. I have undoubtedly implemented those learnt skills now in my legal practice.
2. Put in the hours
Your clients are people with real, profound, meaningful issues and they are relying on you. In my view, if you are not prepared to put in the hours, you just cannot be a good lawyer. There is no easy path. You need to be comprehensive in obtaining instructions, deal with your clients matter like a project and have the ability to manage the various stakeholders associated to that project to get as close as you can to that preferred client outcome.
3. Do it once & do it properly
Seems simple enough, but it does not come second nature to everyone in a fast-paced world. Getting things done quickly is not always the right answer. Getting things done properly always is. So take the time you need by diarising deadlines, reading orders/directions closely and providing well thought-out advice to your clients. And if you are too busy, and do not have the time, simply don't take on the client!
4. Manage your mental health with a system
I now define SYSTEM as: Something You Stick To Emphatically and Methodologically. Without a system you will do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result; the definition of insanity. A system gives you measurable results and boundaries. You must have a system for both your business and mental development. Write the system down. Make sure you regularly review it and constantly improve on it.
5. Transparency & ethics
Yes, you must protect your clients, use legal strategy and techniques. However, you have a duty to the court. Do not ever forget your duty, read the Australian solicitors’ rules closely, I have a copy on my office wall. Be courteous to other solicitors as they are not your enemies. You also tend to get more done when you can negotiate with good faith.