Where can you see yourself next?

Tiff’s Top Tips for Young Lawyers

Tiff’s Top Tips for Young Lawyers

Mo money, mo problems

As you delve into the legal world and start to get more familiar with the way it works, you’ll come to realise that no matter where you find yourself, whether it be in a modest suburban practice or a fancy firm sitting at the big end of town, there is one question that unites all lawyers which Destiny’s Child aptly phrased in their 90s smash hit “Can you pay my bills?”.  For clarity, the ‘you’ there is the client, who after receiving a bill for legal fees is likely asking “why is this bill so expensive?”, “do I have to pay for everything in it?”, “why on earth am I paying for that?!”, etc.

What this means for you as a young lawyer is that it’s very important to think about the cost implications of what you’re doing and how long you should spend doing anything, because trust me, your boss and client almost certainly are.

On average, as a junior lawyer, your charge out rate will probably sit somewhere between $200-300, which is usually far more affordable than the rates being charged out by your seniors (about 3 to 4 times your rate). Because of this, and coupled with the fact that you are a junior, you are probably going to be responsible for lengthy tasks, like document reviews, preparing lengthy evidence schedules or reading through company constitutions, which will naturally take up considerable amounts of time especially if you are just starting out in the profession and figuring your away around. Obviously it’s important to do a good job by being thorough and always handing in your best work. That being said, it’s still always important to remain cost conscious so that you are focusing your time and attention on what is going to bring the client the most value. This will help you (a) be more efficient with your work (b) avoid having to write off large chunks of time when it comes to the firm’s monthly billing cycle and (c) save your boss from having to explain to the client why they are being charged $2,000 for a research note which they never even got to read.

Different clients will have varying financial capacities, which are important to understand from the get go. So when you are brought into a matter, take a minute to get an understanding of your client’s financial means and the costs agreements and estimates that have been provided. These should give you a frame of reference in order to work out how much time to take when completing a task. You could even ask the senior who has delegated you the task how much time they think you should spend on it – whilst this isn’t always an accurate reflection of how long something should take, it should hopefully work as a rough guide. If you don’t think you’ll be able to complete the task within that time frame, check back in with that person around the half-way mark to let them know what you have done and how much longer you will need to complete it and any reasons why. By doing this, and with time, you’ll start to build up an understanding of which tasks you are justified in spending more time on and what work is the most meaningful to achieving the client’s objectives, which at the end of the day is what makes them pay those bills!

Tiffany Tirtabudi

Subscribe to our newsletter

    Copy link
    Powered by Social Snap