So you’ve just gotten a new batch of lawyers fresh out of law school, all bright and eager and looking to make their name in the world. They have plenty of drive and initiative, but very little in the way of experience.
Lawyers become famous and successful after years of practice, but they all had to start somewhere. Entry-level and junior lawyers need to gain experience before they can be trusted with the larger cases, but how do you help them to gain that experience?
1. Have Them Shadow an Older Lawyer
If you want younger lawyers to learn what needs to be done, someone should show them what to do. Older lawyers with years of experience know how to go about preparing for cases, filing motions, drafting statements and all the rest, and they can show the younger lawyers the way that things are done correctly.
2. Send Them to Court
This may sound a bit like throwing them in at the deep end of the pool, but it can be good for them! New associates need to get some hands-on experience, and no amount of shadowing older lawyers will give them courtroom experience. Entry-level lawyers should be given the responsibility of handling at least parts of smaller cases – that way they can gain the experience needed to be excellent lawyers.
3. Make It All Theirs
One mistake that many law firms make with entry-level lawyers is that they assign too many to one case. This is usually done because the partners worry that the junior lawyers are going to mess up the case, but this can actually backfire. Just like "too many cooks spoil the broth", having too many lawyers on the same case can lead to problems in building the case.
Instead, trim the staff and make sure that only the absolutely necessary personnel handle each case. If you can assign one lawyer to one case, it forces them to step out and do all the work themselves. They will learn about the mistakes that come from being too hasty or not doing enough research, and it will help them be better lawyers in the long run.
Note that it’s fine for a partner or senior lawyer to keep an eye on the associates as they are preparing the case. Have the entry-level lawyer run their case by someone with more experience just to make sure that things are properly done.
4. Don't Just Give Them Scut Work
All entry-level lawyers and associates get the "scut work", the duties that no one wants to handle. It’s understood that this is how things are done, but it sort of leeches the fun out of working as a lawyer. Make sure that they have responsibilities they actually enjoy, while helping them to learn how to be a better lawyer. They have to love what they do in order to be the best they can be!
See Also: How to Stand Out In an Entry Level Role
Not all lawyers are cut out to be superstars, but all of the greatest had to start out from the bottom. It’s up to you to find the superstar lawyers from among your entry-level team and help them make progress as quickly as possible.