So you’ve just finished college. Congratulations on that LL.B diploma! You’ve worked really hard to get it. But now what?  You’ve searched the internet, talked to your senior friends already working in law firms... Maybe even consulted with your college professors. But still have no idea how to kick-start your law career? Or maybe you just landed your first associate job, but have no idea what to do next.  How do you select an area you want to develop yourself in? How to pick a right mentor and impress him? All of that can be overwhelming.  But, it actually doesn’t need to be.

We've talked to Metodi Baykushev, managing partner at Dimitrov, Petrov & Co. with over 14 years of experience to help you with these issues.

Here are some of the main questions our associates had when starting their law careers, and his advice for each.   

1. How do I select area I want to develop myself in?

At the start of a career I would not worry about the areas I work in. The attitude, the hard work and the good team are far more important for a young lawyer. If you are a hard worker, the interesting tasks will come to you, even if you do not ask for them. I believe that the best lawyers are those that have worked in many areas. The broad legal knowledge gives an unbeaten understanding of the law and client’s needs and issues. By that I am not implying that you should not try to specialize in one or more specific areas. I am saying that you have time and in most cases this development will come naturally. One should first put all the effort to win the trust of colleagues and clients, and everything will follow from there. Your area will find you. Indeed, in the course of your career you will realize that there are many areas that you find interesting. 

2. I just finished college and have 0 experience. How do I even approach my job search?

The short answer is – do it professionally, with passion and dedication. Indeed, this is your first real professional task. Nobody is going to do your job. Go to the internet, read about your market, get to know the key players, read all the websites of all the big firms in your country, try to interview as many legal professionals in your selected jurisdiction as possible. The more you know about the different opportunities, the better you will prepare. Do not be afraid to fail. A bad job interview is not a failure. It is a lesson. Look within yourself, analyze where you might be mistaking. Success is all about mindset and hard work. 

3. I’ve finished college and have offers from three firms to join as an associate. I have no idea how to choose. What should I do?

First, know that there is no right or wrong in choosing a workplace. This is not the last choice in your life. You can always go back. If you are a hard worker, options will pop-out.

Second, when choosing a firm, the most important features to think of are values and development.

You should do your best to answer the questions - to what extent the culture in the different firms corresponds to my personal values and where I feel that I will develop myself the most? You should ask about these things during job interviews.
When we speak about development, you should always have in mind that in the long-term, personal development as a human being is more important than professional development. I am not saying that you should not strive to become an outstanding expert. Quite the contrary – being an impeccable lawyer is a must, and this should be achieved as early as possible in every lawyer’s career. Yet, you should not forget that in parallel you should be developing your ethics, teamwork, leadership skills, emotional intelligence, and empathy. Those are the qualities that will take you closer to your dream position no matter what that position is.

4. I recently started my first law job. I really want to get off to a strong start and impress my supervisors. How do I start/any advice?

This is simple – become indispensable. You must have heard a thousand times that there are not indispensable people. Here is a surprise! That is not entirely true. Well, objectively it is probably true, but when we speak of an organization of human beings, psychology kicks in. Everybody loves hard working people who are positive and genuinely humble. So, become indispensable by working hard and being the bigger person in every situation. Try to act as an emotionally mature person as much as possible. In fact, get mature as quickly as possible. You are a lawyer; people expect you to act as a grown up.

5. I recently started my first law job. I am not used to getting multiple assignments from different supervisors and having to prioritize everything myself. I am feeling overwhelmed. Any advice?

First, it is normal to feel overwhelmed at the start of your lawyer’s career. You have chosen one of the most challenging professions in the world. It is tough, and it will remain tough. So, aligning your expectations with reality is important for your mindset on how you perceive the huge stress.

Second, being a young associate does not make you numb. Success in every task, job, and in life in general depends on good communication. If things are looking to become unbearable, talk to your colleagues and superiors, and work it out. In fact, you should be talking to colleagues and superiors on a daily basis, including about workload and prioritization. This should be a normal thing in a good law firm with the right culture.

I am not implying that you should be complaining or murmuring. You should strive to analyze yourself and the big picture in your organization, and express your concerns in a sensible way whenever you feel it appropriate.