As graduation nears for college students, enthusiasm permeates the air at the thought of closing their books once and for all, eager to finally begin their professional careers and get started making a difference in their communities. students, however, are wondering if they’re ready or not, if they have the right skills for the real world or if they should even worry about it. Whether it’s overconfidence or obliviousness, they’ll soon realize they’re in need of a wakeup call and every second the call goes unanswered, an unavoidable fear sinks in at the sound of every ring.

While this advice is applicable to all recent undergrad and post-bac graduates, it’s even more important that recent law school graduates heed this advice.

Graduating from law school is a monumental accomplishment that deserves celebration, but it is important to quickly set out on a path of continuous education and hands-on knowledge acquisition. Here are a few key steps to making it through the “rookie” phase of your law career.

Areas To Consider Focusing On

A lot of an attorney’s practice entails negotiation and compromise.  There are many courts that encourage, and often require mediation prior to a case going to trial.  It would be beneficial for law students to take some courses in negotiation and mediation training.  Civil litigation, civil procedure, and trial practice courses would also be helpful as you enter the workforce.

The Real World

Graduating from law school and passing the bar are only half the battle in your quest to become a reputable attorney.  It is imperative that you build a reputation from the beginning as being a trustworthy attorney to your colleagues as well as your clients.  You should always be a person of your word. You should take the time to visit the courtroom and watch how attorneys interact with judges, clients, and other attorneys.  You can learn a lot by watching from the sidelines. It is beneficial to clerk for a law firm during law school.  This allows for you to become familiar with court procedures and interact with other attorneys and future colleagues.

Great Resources To Use

Build a good working relationship with your peers both at school and in the workplace because they will be your resource and opposing counsel during your years practicing law.  Hang onto your trial practice books and notes because they will be a great refresher before your first trial and sometimes your BarBri books will save you time when researching complicated issues.

Whether you’re fresh to law school or a veteran student on the verge of graduation, any student is still an amateur in the many fields of law. If you take advantage of the resources at your disposal and learn the law essentials while you still can, you’ll have a better chance of success out in the real world.

Written by Kellie Bertels, an attorney at law and partner with Bandré Hunt & Snider in Jefferson City, Missouri.

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