16 Feb 2008 @ 2:51 PM 

I recently gave a lecture at BYU law school to a group of students who are interested in pursuing careers in international law. The presentation was intended to give them advice on successfully planning and getting into their legal careers. I’ll summarize it here for future reference.

Personal Preparation 

  • Aim High – Doors can close quickly in the development of a legal career. Key among these are grades and journal participation in law school. It takes a lot of effort and time, but it keeps the door open in case you decide to pursue an opportunity that requires them.
  • Have a 10 year plan – Looking long term at your career helps you make sense of the daily decisions. If you only consider the short term implications, you may make decisions that will lead you away from your long term objectives. 
  • Develop a specialty – People want to pay lawyers because they know their area of law, not to do the research into a new area of law. Figure out what subjects interest you and develop a specialty you will stay on top of.
  • Lay a foundation – Take chances. If you want to have an international practice, seek out and take opportunities to work abroad. It will differentiate your resume and will give you real insights into working with clients and attorneys from different cultures.

Career Development

  • Know the business – Get to know your industry so that you can help anticipate needs. Better yet, get into an industry that you are personally interested in so that when you pick up a trade magazine that interests you personaly, it will also be professionally relevant.
  • Take ownership – In-house, constantly look for ways to improve your processes and legal strategy. In a firm, think about your clients and their needs off the clock. Communicate to them ideas that will help protect them or refine their legal strategy.
  • Understand your role – Remember that your clients and corporate executives are considering yoru advice as one element of the multiple factors they are weighing in making their decisions. Don’t take offense or get upset if your ideas are not always implemented in the manner you have presented them, even if they seem primarily legal in nature.
  • Grow your influence – Over time, consistently giving good legal advice to your clients or corporate team will help them have confidence in you and will likely lead to more of your ideas being implemented as you have presented them. In addition, legal analysis skills are useful in non-legal applications, and you may be asked for your opinion on a broader spectrum of issues.
Posted By: TJ
Last Edit: 03 Mar 2008 @ 11:59 AM

Categories: International, Legal


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