Here are a few things I’ve learned as a Young Lawyer from experience and observation... Destiny Ogedegbe
I imagine it is easy to lose focus as a young lawyer. It is the fray. Revisit your short and long term goals. (28/11/2020)
Being one year post call, here are a few things I’ve learned as a young lawyer (from experience and observation):
- Find your strong suits quickly. It may be leveraging on connections. It may be brains or hard work or communication skills. Don’t feel or act inferior even if you’re grossly disadvantaged at the start, in economic or academic terms. You have a strong suit, find it. It will help you concentrate on the areas you can easily put forward in making good impressions. It also assures you that you’re valuable, while you keep building on the areas you’re not solid at. You’d need to feel useful because more easily you may feel useless, at the start.
- Don’t micromanage yourself. There are many areas of law and you may never know which you’d find interesting. You can have preferred areas, but remain fluid to a considerable extent. Always bear in mind that you cannot really hate what you do not fully know or have experienced.
- Relevance in practice is all about problem solving. Do not bellyache too much about the issues. Think about solutions every time. It’s what your seniors care about. It’s what the client needs. You’re only as relevant as you solve problems. We’re all learning this everyday.
- You’ll have to forgive yourself many times. You’re a smart person but in the middle of many conversations, you’ll be lost. And you’d doubt yourself. But no amount of intelligence can supplant years of experience. You can’t be smart about what you do not know. Keep learning.
- Ask questions. From the genuinely relevant to the seemingly, spectacularly sordid. If you don’t know it and you can’t find it out yourself, ask. You’ll be discouraged a few times but always make the effort to learn. The sooner you learn, the earlier you can provide solutions.
- Hone communication habits early. Learn the small talks. Be more interested in having money conversations and converting simple discussions into business opportunities. Don’t be scared to charge in your private practice(s). It makes you more confident.
- Consider excellence to be non-negotiable. Do the small things well and hold yourself to high standards. When it gets really hard, always remind yourself that you’ll never always be at the nadir. Let your improvements be visible by how you meet your standards everytime.
- I imagine it is easy to lose focus as a young lawyer. It is the fray. Revisit your short and long term goals. Do you really want to continue corporate practice or litigation? A masters now? Be brutally honest with yourself on these issues and stay convicted. Try not to sway.
- Read widely. I had little interests in finance, economics, stocks and many other issues until I started practising. I’m trying now to acquire vaster knowledge. I imagine it’s what saves us when all your smart little tricks fail. Knowledge is both the king and the king maker.
- Maximize your early years. A lot of mistakes will be overlooked. The bar is still low. Don’t waste them. Traverse several areas and use the opportunity to try new things. Learn from your mistakes and earn the respect of those ahead of you as much as possible.
Destiny Ogedegbe is a corporate attorney in Nigeria's Tier 1 corporate and commercial law firm, Banwo & Ighodalo, where he advises and assists local and international clients on transactions and projects in areas such as Energy & Natural Resources, Mergers & Acquisitions, Banking and Project Finance; and Regulatory Compliances.
In his spare time, he enjoys writing, inspiring young professionals and sharing standardized ideologies.
You can get social with him on Twitter: @Mrpossidez