How to survive your new legal job

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Starting a new legal job is exciting and challenging, particularly within the fast paced legal industry, and can be a stressful and demanding time.

Here are our top ten tips on how to survive adjusting to a new legal job and your new boss.

You're going to be taking in a huge amount of new information during your first few weeks on the job, and it's particularly difficult within the fast paced legal industry. Even seasoned lawyers agree that starting a new job is a tough task.

So expect challenges and don't be too hard on yourself as everyone has been a new starter at least once. Go into a new job with an open mind and the flexibility to change.

Take your time to adjust

It can take anywhere between two to six months to feel like you know what you're doing in a new job, and in some especially difficult legal jobs, even longer

It can take anywhere between two to six months to feel like you know what you're doing in a new job, and in some especially difficult legal jobs, even longer. Don't panic if you still feel overwhelmed or like you don't fit into the culture in your few months month, it's normal to feel this way and the feeling will go away over time. 

Don't compare your new job to your old job

You might think you have a better way of doing things but get to know your new job and workplace before you suggest doing things differently. You might learn they have already tried those ideas or that they didn't work for a reason. And you may risk annoying your new colleagues.

Understand your new boss

It is important to understand your boss’s communication style from the beginning. Work out how they like to get things done on a daily basis. For example, does your new boss like one-on-one meetings or team meetings? Are they interested in the detail or do they prefer a summary?

Be proactive and initiate a meeting with your new boss to discuss how they like to work, and adapt accordingly.

Embrace learning

Working under a new boss can be unnerving and challenging. Learn everything you can from the experience and try to empathise with the boss’s situation — it can be just as challenging for them. This will ease the transition for you both.

Remember, it’s up to the both of you to make the relationship work.

Get to know your colleagues

To help you adjust into your new work environment, make an effort in your first few weeks to get to know your colleagues. These are the people who will be able to help you find your way and even give you a heads up on what things matter most to your boss.

Ask for the help you need

Some bosses are better managers and more natural teachers than others. If you need more information or don't fully comprehend what's going on, don't be shy about asking for what you need. 

Talk to your new boss about your goals

Be proactive and talk to your boss about your own career goals and what they expect of you otherwise you won't know what a successful first month to six months should look like.   

Understand the company culture

Spend the first few weeks in your new role learning about the company culture. What hours do most people work? Is there a lot of socializing during the day, or do people stay focused on their work? Are you expected to eat lunch at your desk? Does everyone go for a drink on a Friday night?

Once you find out about the culture at your new company will you be able to adjust fully.

Ask for feedback

At the end of your first few weeks, ask your boss how they think you are getting on, if there's anything you could do differently and where you could focus more. Most feedback is generally constructive and will help you get guidance early.

If everything is positive and you hear you are doing a superb job, you'll get an extra confidence boost that will help you to adjust even more easily.

Read similar career advice articles.

For more career advice please contact:

Nic Sephton-Poultney, Country Manager (South Africa)
nic.sephton-poultney@robertwalters.com
+27 (0) 11 881 2414

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