Becoming Successful; Useful Tips for Rookie Lawyers – Tosin Ajose Popoola

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I’m assuming you’ve found your path, some big congratulations! Now, the work starts. It takes a whole lot hard work to clear a path (you can ask the farmer), to ensure that the path remains cleared without bush and thorns sprouting everywhere is another level of hard work. Let me put this in public domain quickly, finding a path does not mean there won’t be moments of confusion, uncertainty and doubts, not to worry, I will talk about this another time. Now, back to the issue at hand, imagine, you have a bushy path on your way home, and to prevent snake bites and the likes, you cleared the path. The bush will likely not grow back with ease, if you take that path home daily or as I like to say if the path is well-trodden, but where you cleared the path in…let’s say, January and take a different path home for 6 months, the bush, thorns and of course dangerous animals that inhabits in bushy places would have taken over, and the paths earlier cleared is no longer visible. This brings me to the place of being diligent and consistent.  Once we’ve identified our respective paths or carved a niche (which is the common slogan now), we can’t afford to relax. To be successful is hard work, staying successful is ‘harder’ work.

The very good thing about the legal profession is that there is really no limit to what you can do with a law degree. When I was still a rookie, I hated that phrase; “you cannot really pay a lawyer”, but as my years increased, I realized that this is not only true, it is also a positive commendation that should make a lawyer proud. There is no profession that is as vasatile as the legal profession. Have you ever wondered why we are called learned? Have you heard of that phrase; “a lawyer must know a little about everything”? what do they all tell you? The truth is that as a lawyer, there is really no limit to the number of places you can fit in. There is no profession that does not need a lawyer. What you make of your certificate and your career is entirely up to you. But it is my utmost desire that you succeed.

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The essence of my submission (oops! I can’t help the litigation in me) is that we need to do more, we need to be deliberate, we need consistency and a whole lot of diligence. Being consistence and diligent comes with deliberate choices and steps. So, what can one do to maintain consistency and develop a successful career part? I would highlight a few of my personal tips:

Don’t Stop Developing Your Self

It may be difficult to choose a career part immediately. It is okay to be confused at the beginning but do not stay confused for a long time than necessary. Make sure you have your eyes on the ground for an area of law you feel more comfortable with. Start from there to grow that tiny likeness. Read materials, be deliberate about what you want to know about the field you choose and then allow the interest develop naturally.

If you are one of the few who are able to figure out your career path early enough, then you are lucky. All you need is to keep training yourself along that line. If your path is Alternative Dispute Resolution, please go for training, conferences, seminars, participate in webinars etc. There is always a package that suits your economic standing, find the one you can afford, if you can’t afford it now, save towards it. If you find that you are attracted to the courtroom and you feel litigation is it for you, don’t just settle for the ‘motion moving lawyer’ or ‘adjournment seeking counsel’, get better in your advocacy skills (thanks to frontloading, you don’t really need much of that), get better in your writing skills, improve your power of negotiation, (you will need it), work on your confidence and self-esteem, you need all the confidence you can muster to survive and thrive in litigation, it’s a battle. If you can only see yourself in the boardroom, then it is time to start looking for courses that horn the skills of in house counsel and company’s legal advisory role. Recently, lawyers are developing expertise in sports law, communication law, space law, entertainment law, to mention but a few. Lawyers are breaking ground in vlogging, online legal publication and  law contents development. Whatever your path is, keep developing yourself.

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Be an Avid Reader

Read all relevant materials, books, law reports, law texts; Whatever path you’ve created, read materials in that field, if litigation is your thing, subscribe to a law report, there are a lot of publishers now, there is the monthly, weekly, quarterly and don’t just subscribe, read them, don’t be a lawyer that comes to WhatsApp group to ask for elementary principles of law, a draft of a letter, written address, briefs, how to move an Application etc. We see a lot on WhatsApp group nowadays! Invest in yourself.

Get in the right clique and seek out mentors;

I hope by now you know that you need mentors in this profession, approach seniors that you admire, learn from them. I have come to realize the hierarchical nature of our Country and the Legal Industry. This hierarchical  nature is more pronounced in some areas such as Alternative Dispute Resolution among others, such that, regardless of your brilliancy and the amount of resources you have expended on training and/or certifications you would not make headway in these areas without making deliberate and concerted effort to seek out mentors on whose shoulder you can ride. A good way to get in the right clique is by volunteering. Volunteer.

Utilize Technology and Social Media to the fullest

I agree that technology and indeed social media has its own disadvantage, the disadvantage notwithstanding, there are a lot of benefits. A lot! You can get clients and referrals on social media depending on the type of content you’re putting on social media. You can earn a living from social media. There are a lot of sites that generate works for lawyers, there is ‘upwork’ there is ‘contently.com’ among others. Whatever opportunity you think you deserve, use social media to create the platform you need. Take control of technology, profit from it.

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Stay motivated

For as long as you do not accept defeat, you would most definitely succeed.

The above tips are not exhaustive but they would set you on the right path to growth. I hope you find them useful.

I would love to hear from you too. Share  with me in the comment section your own personal tips if they are different from mine.

Let’s keep at it!

 Tosin is a Lawyer, Content Creator and Blogger she practices in Ibadan, Oyo State.

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