Law School Lament: Lawyers Reveal What They Wish They’d Learned in Law School

By Nahid Orgunwall May 10, 2017 at 1:26pm

As the school year winds down for the year, and the latest crop of law students begin their legal internships, we look to a recent study by Robert Half Legal emphasizing the importance of taking time to set those books aside and gain some practical work experience while in school. 

Robert Half Legal asked more than 350 Canadian and U.S. lawyers. "What is the single best piece of career advice that you’ve ever received and continue to use today?"

Some of their verbatim responses:

“Choose a career that allows you to learn as you grow.”
“Find a firm that has the same qualities and priorities as you do.”
“Look for challenging work.”
“Be willing to change if necessary. That includes location and your job itself.”
“Every experience you have is a building block to the next level.”
“Be self-motivated and strive to succeed.”
“Take risks and open yourself up to possibilities.”
“Try to learn as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to take on new assignments. Expand your knowledge.”
“When you quit learning, move on.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.”
“Be collaborative.
“Treat all lawyers and staff as if they were the clients.”

Lawyers also stressed the importance of client relationship management, offering the following advice:

“Treat each client like it’s your first one.”
“Listen more than you talk.”
“Take a step back and look at all sides of a problem.”
“It takes less time to do something right then it does to explain why you did it wrong.”
“Business development is a marathon not a sprint.”

Lawyers also underscored the importance of achieving performance excellence. Responses include:

“Take every opportunity to watch senior lawyers do what they do.”
“Stay close to good people.”
“Find a mentor.”
“Details matter.”
“Don’t go to people with problems, go to people with solutions.”
“Do what you say you’ll do.”
“Learn from your mistakes.”
“You can never be afraid to make a hard decision and regret making it.”

And finally, a number of lawyers also offered wisdom that is fundamental to the practice of law: Always act with honesty and integrity.

Finished law school and looking for legal opportunities?​ Browse Robert Half Legal's open jobs today.

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