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Finding resilience in your early legal career

Resilience is important throughout your legal career, for example, when tackling a particularly difficult legal challenge or facing a deadline. It is key that you have the right tools to help you to manage your workload efficiently and bounce back from setbacks.

Michelmores emphasises the importance of wellbeing and resilience in our working lives. Throughout my training contract at the firm, I have had plenty of opportunity to learn key resilience techniques through internal and external seminars and most recently by partaking on the ‘How to Be a Resilient Lawyer’ Professional Skills Course run by the University of Law.

Throughout my training contract, I have implemented several different techniques and I hope that some of these will resonate with future and prospective trainees as you embark on your legal career.

Maintain your support network

One of the key resilience tools to have is your support network. Make time to nurture your relationships with your peers and your supervisors so that you have people to turn to when you need advice or to talk through a solution to a difficult question.

The ladder of inference

The ladder of inference is a metaphor I learnt on my PSC course. It relates to the idea of emotional control. It refers to the way in which we tend to make negative assumptions about what another person is thinking (unusually incorrectly) which leads to catastrophising. We can learn to stop ourselves before we jump to conclusions so that we can, for example, take constructive criticism at face value which will allow us to develop as junior lawyers.

Resilience techniques

There are further resilience techniques which are useful to practice. I would suggest practicing a few to find out what works best for you. Examples of techniques include, maintaining a routine, writing out lists, practicing morning and/or evening rituals to get you into the right mindset and regular movement.

One example of how the firm encourages movement to aid our wellbeing is the firm’s annual Step Challenge where teams across the firm compete to achieve the highest number of steps.

If you would like to find out more about how to look after your wellbeing as a junior lawyer, please read my colleague Milli Clark’s blog, here.

Finding self-worth beyond work

It is very common for those just starting out in their careers to want to focus solely on work, but one key lesson to find a healthy balance is to maintain (or find new) hobbies from which you can derive your self-worth.

Whether that be artistic, sporting or musical pursuits, or simply enjoying spending time with friends and family, it is important that you keep up with these activities and learn new skills. This will help you to be resilient in the face of perceived failure or difficult situations and help you to bring a fresh perspective to your work. For an insight into how surfing helped fellow trainee Sonia Bungaroo Valdés on her training contract, please read on here.

Work in Progress

Most importantly, we should accept that we are all a ‘work in progress’. We will make mistakes from which we can learn valuable lessons. We do not become resilient lawyers overnight but we may improve our resilience by practicing the techniques that work well for us.