Most law students are pre-warned about how cut throat it can be within the legal industry but after working for over four years in different law firms, I believe we arent prepared enough for dealing with constant critisim and just the general office environment. I have developed a few ways of coping.
1. It’s ok to make mistakes (within reason). The whole point of being in a less senior position (such as a trainee solicitor), is because we are learning. Of course we will not know what the hell we are doing to begin with, or even for a very long time. Our inexperience is reflected in our salary. Part of being a trainee means critism and a lot of it on a regular basis. At the beginning, I found this extremely hurtful. I took it as a personal reflection on my abilities and began thinking perhaps the job wasn’t for me. Over time I saw a transform in my work (which is still not perfect) and now it is much easier to deal with critism going forward. A thick skin is essential.
2. Accept the fact that you are going to be given shitty tasks that you do not want to do. This may mean carrying folders everywhere for Partner, photocopying or breaking a sweat lugging bundles around court. (Its not all glamour). I have met so many Paralegals or those on work experience who have contemplated quitting after having to carry out such tasks. I personally believe that if we do not put in the graft and get our hands dirty we will not become examples or relateable to other trainees once qualified. This way of thinking stops me from becoming aggravated when having to carry out such tasks. It’s just how it is.
3. Not everyone will like you. We are forced to spend most of our week with people that we probably wouldn’t associate with by choice. You will not like everyone and not everyone will like you. It’s nothing personal (or sometimes it is) but we have to make the most of it. Remaining professional and not fixating on things like why certain people haven’t invited you to lunch is the way forward. You have your own life, your getting paid so who cares so long as your polite and pleasant. Negative & mean people who always have something to say about you or everyone else usually have their own demons, take it on the chin.
4. If it really is that bad take the plunge and find somewhere else. Don’t kill yourself inside for somewhere that makes you unhappy. If we passed away tomorrow we would be replaced within a week or two. It has to work both ways, new starts can be scary but if you feel it can’t get any worse then go for it.