To put this in proper context, “barlife” = “lawyer life.” May or may not be associated with alcohol. Haha. Dedicated to those in the law profession, working towards joining it, or just curious what working in law is really like!
It has been quite an eventful August for me. For the first time in several months, I surpassed my work goalpost. I had some major catching up to do as I travelled extensively the first half of this year, making me miss a lot of work days! I took my sweet time learning the ropes and agonized over organizing my voluminous casefiles, making inventory of each one. I wanted to hasten my journey up the learning curve especially as I’m still a newbie. To recall, I took this new job sometime ago. I’m still in public interest law but there’s a slight difference in the laws that we apply at this new job which takes some getting used to. Do I regret taking so much time for travel? Sometimes, but then I wouldn’t do things differently of course as those travel memories last forever and help preserve one’s sanity in this stressful profession.
Immerse in the work culture
Any newbie lawyer in any new office must first observe the office culture. Scope out how your boss likes to do things and accommodate such preference. Be aware of any unspoken rules to avoid inadvertently stepping on any emotional land mines.
As a new person, many people will approach you and try to get you to join certain groups. For as long as I could, I held off on affiliating myself with any one group of office friends. Take your time and observe how people behave first. Personally I spent most of my first few months just focusing purely on work and working on my pace. I wanted to learn how to properly do things first, before learning to take shortcuts! Lol.
Before anything, place your mindset in the right place—produce! Ignore office politics and steer away from gossip and never dish out gossip. You were hired for a purpose and the employer expects one thing, your work product. You ARE getting paid, after all, and considerably so.
I remember countless moments of being jokingly teased for choosing to stay in my work space quietly working while people were congregating just outside my door. I’m less rigid with work now but back then, I chose to focus and produce. Fortunately, my efforts were rewarded and I feel that my work speed has become better. I prefer working as much as I can during my work hours to avoid overtime or weekend work. Now that I’m married, working weekends are more or less out of the question as frugal husband likes his quality time with me.
If you’re new, sometimes your exhaustive efforts seem to get you nowhere. It sometimes feels likes there is no improvement in skill, quality or speed. Please be patient with yourself. Working in law is peculiar in that nobody comes out of law school a full-fledged functional lawyer. Just like with any new job, its intricacies will reveal themselves after some training. Keep pounding on that job, always be learning something new at the job that you do, whatever field you may be in, whether in corporate law, litigation, or in public interest law like me. That’s essentially what I did, I just kept working on my pace and before I knew it, I had surpassed my personal goalpost. What used to take x number of days now takes me a few hours to do! Being fully immersed in work, I no longer have to come in on weekends.
How do you immerse yourself in a new job?