Recently sworn in by a Canadian Bar school, young lawyers need to consider the first steps that will launch their career. “The path to the career of choice will not be linear. It is increasingly accepted that things are tested at the start of a career,” says the president of the Young Bar of Montreal, Sabine Uwitonze, who agreed to give some tips to those starting out in the profession.
Partner with a mentor
When graduating from Bar school, a young lawyer must start thinking about his career. What field of law is he interested in? What workplace does he want to work in? Does he want to plead in court, advise clients or draft legal documents? If the answers to these questions do not come naturally, a mentor can help find them. Canadian Bar schools offer networking services. “A mentor will be able to explain to a young lawyer the various possibilities in the profession,” explains Ms. Uwitonze. “They can discuss their career path, what they like and what the like less.”
Landing a job
Now with an idea of what he wants to do in his legal career, the young jurist must find a job. The internship completed during his training at Bar school can enable him to get a position in a firm, a private company or in the public sector. Otherwise he can start looking for a job. “Connections created at university and during the internship can help find opportunities before they are posted,” says Sabine Uwitonze. The young lawyer can also decide to start his own practice.
Listen to yourself
The president of the Young Bar of Montreal advises young lawyers to “listen to themselves” at the start of their career. “Life passes very quickly and you don’t stop to wonder if all is well,” she says. “You have to be honest with yourself. Am I comfortable where I am? Does it allow me to have a balance between work and personal life?” A study by the Université de Sherbrooke, released in June 2019, reported that half of lawyers with less than ten years experience suffer from psychological distress. Psychological support services are offered by professional associations, says Ms. Uwitonze.
Networking lets a young lawyer build his address book, discover new opportunities and even win contracts. Sabine Uwitonze also insists on the need to meet other young lawyers. “Meeting people who are going through the same thing as us is therapeutic if you have doubts or questions,” she says. “These times of discussions with other lawyers allow us to have an open mind about our profession and our practice.” Professional associations regularly organize networking activities between lawyers, Ms. Uwitonze reports.
Lawyers are obliged to be informed about the content of recent decisions affecting their area of practice. “There are important decisions in several areas that come out regularly,” says Sabine Uwitonze. “Technology also ensures that information comes out quickly. It’s really important to be up to date.” Training offered to lawyers who want to understand the latest advances in their area and develop themselves are expensive. Professional associations, such as the Young Bar of Montreal, organize themselves to allow their members to follow training at a lower cost.