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Resources to Prepare You for Your First Days as a Lawyer, and for the Days that Follow
by Dennis Kennedy
March 2005

This month's issue of Law Practice Today offers a great collection of articles to help young lawyers get started in the practice of law. Even though no collection of articles can fully prepare you for what to expect as you begin your legal career, these article will put you on the right path and alert you to the need to make learning about the practice of the law as much of a priority as you make learning about the substantive law in your area of practice.

Looking back, I would now make two strong recommendations to every law student and young lawyer, and by that term I mean all associates and all new partners.

The first would be to invest some of your earnings or savings into some work with a career counselor or coach as early in the process as you can. It can be very difficult to get a good perspective on the implications of your choices or even to understand what you want or what you should be looking for without getting help from someone who is clear-sighted, independent and concerned about you, perhaps even more concerned about you than you will allow yourself to be as you frantically try to "launch your career."

The second would be to track down Kimm Walton's book, What Law School Doesn't Teach You: But You Really Need to Know. In one volume, you will find tips, advice and, dare I say, distilled wisdom that might otherwise take you years to learn or, in some cases, that you may never find. It's difficult for me to imagine a more useful resource. Don't worry that it was written a few years ago – the lessons are timeless. Here's a tip: some of what you read won't make sense to you at first, but it's important to see it now, because you will appreciate it later.

Let's go to the Internet and see what we can find out there to help you out. Once again, you can almost forget about using Google or standard search engines. Your search terms will turn up all kinds of wacky and irrelevant results, even though you will find some good stuff here and there.

The Young Lawyer Division Web sites – The American Bar Association and many, if not all, state bar associations and bar associations in countries outside the United States have portions of their websites devoted to their "young lawyer divisions or sections." Some are more extensive than others, but you'll want to start with the ABA Young Lawyer Division's site (http://www.abanet.org/yld/home.html), move to your state bar association's young lawyer section site and sample the other ones out there. For example, the Texas bar association site has recently gained a lot of attention for its "Ten Minute Mentor" series of downloadable video programs.

Introduction to Legal Practice Resource Guide (http://www.okcu.edu/law/lawlib/pdfs/guide_legalpractice.pdf) – Although there may be several examples of this type of resource, this Guide, prepared by Lee Peoples at the Oklahoma City University Law School in connection with a law school class, gives you a comprehensive list of resources in one handy document. It makes this introduction a great starting point.

The ABA YLD's Unlock Your Potential Resource Guide (http://www.abanet.org/yld/careerresources/home.html) – This 79 page document distills a lot of useful information into one useful document and evidences a lot of care, concern and wisdom. It's a treasure trove of useful information.

The Legal Bloggers – If you listen carefully, you will start to hear talk about the way that the lawyer bloggers are helping change the image of lawyers for the better with their helpfulness and generosity. Although there are many examples, I want to single out three blogs that often have useful advice, tips and discussion for young lawyers: Evan Schaeffer's Notes from the (Legal) Underground (http://www.legalunderground.com/), Scheherezade Fowler's Stay of Execution (http://civpro.blogs.com/civil_procedure/), and Arnie Herz's Legal Sanity (http://www.legalsanity.com/).

FindLaw Career Center (http://careers.findlaw.com/) – FindLaw remains the premier free directory for legal information on the Internet. The Career Center pulls together a useful collection of resources and will help you find other materials.

Vault.com (http://www.vault.com/hubs/507/hubhome_507.jsp?ch_id=507) – Some people focus so much on the salary information and other insider materials on this site that they overlook the number of useful articles and other materials on this site. Spend a little time to look around and you will be well-rewarded for your efforts.

Lincoln's Advice to Lawyers (http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/lawlect.htm) – Although Abraham Lincoln did not originally write this material for the Internet, it's found a home on the Internet. His reflections contain much sage advice.

The Strongest Links Column on Mentoring (http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/slc08041.html) – I wrote a column that collected a good number of links to mentoring resources that was part of an excellent issue of Law Practice Today focusing on mentoring. A search using the term "mentoring" on the Law Practice Today Web site will turn up a set of excellent articles. One of the most important jobs a new lawyer has is finding a mentor. The resources mentioned in this column will assist you in that effort.

These resources will get you started. Learning about the practice of law and better ways to practice law will play a vital role in your legal career. Do not neglect it. Keep adding to your own collection of useful resources on the topic.


Dennis Kennedy (dmk@denniskennedy.com) practices information technology transactions law and provides legal technology consulting services. A frequent speaker and an award-winning author, he covers law and technology topics on his blog (www.denniskennedy.com/blog/). He is a member of the ABA Law Practice Management Section's Council, Webzine Board and TECHSHOW 2005 Board.