10 Things a New Lawyer Should Know

1. Know the Law and be Prepared

Each year read the following Chapters of the General Statutes: 5A (Contempt); 8C (Evidence); 50 (Divorce, Alimony, etc.); 50A (UCCJEA); 52C (UIFSA); 50B and C (Domestic Violence and No Contact); and 52 (Married Persons, Powers, and Liabilities). It is important to stay updated with the law and it is equally as important to be prepared to try your case.

2. Candor with the Court

When you appear before a Judge, always explain the law and tell the whole truth. If there is relevant legal authority be familiar with it and disclose it to the Court. Do your best to make the Court trust you as a knowledgeable lawyer who is candid with the Court. Do not give the Court any reason to distrust you and therefore distrust your client.

3. Avoid Ex Parte Contact if at all Possible

Do not ever ask a Judge to do anything that would make you uncomfortable if you were in their position.

4. Don’t Gossip

Do NOT gossip and do NOT repeat gossip. Never speak negatively about other lawyers, especially in a public setting. Always speak highly of your fellow peers and compliment them on their successes.

5. Reputation

It is important that you develop a reputation for fairness and truthfulness. Lose with dignity and win with grace.

6. Emails

Once an email is sent you can never get it back and despite what you might believe, it can never be deleted. So, be careful with the words you include in an email.

7. Co-Workers

Treat your co-workers (receptionists, paralegals, partners, etc.) with the utmost respect and always be willing to give a helping hand, no matter what is need. A law office needs to be run as a team.

8. Clients

It is extremely important to LISTEN to your clients. Be sure to explain to your client the process, the law, and the broad discretion of the Family Court Judge. Make sure to communicate promptly and frequently with your client; always return phone calls and emails!

9. Money

Do NOT overbill your clients, but don’t do work for free either (except intentionally). Also, it is important to take at least some pro bono every year.

10. Time

Make sure to keep accurate daily time sheets and always keep accurate trust records.

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Angela McIlveen
CEO/Partner Attorney
Angela McIlveen is a founding Partner Attorney at the McIlveen Family Law Firm. As a partner at the McIlveen Law Firm, she handles cases in family law including child custody and support, divorce, alimony, adoption, separation, domestic violence and equitable distribution. She is often called upon to teach CLE classes to other attorney and to speak at events.

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