Review: Junior Lawyers’ Handbook

Jonathan Andrews, winner of the Junior Lawyer of the Year at the Excellence Awards 2019, reviews the Junior Lawyer’s Handbook.

Jonathan Andrews

I was pleasantly surprised to be asked, shortly after being recognised as Junior Lawyer of the Year, to provide a review of the Junior Lawyers’ Handbook.

The handbook is a resource carefully put together by Eloise Skinner to assist junior lawyers (including trainees, paralegals, and solicitors of up to and including five years’ PQE) in understanding the legal profession, and making sure they put their best foot forward.

The handbook’s message and guidance is of particular use and interest to me.

Just two months ago, shortly after I felt I had finally mastered being a trainee, I qualified as a solicitor. I’m now settling into the new role and responsibilities which come with being a newly qualified associate.

I found the handbook full of useful tips, including those that have already been of use to be as a trainee and NQ, and others that I’ll be sure to take up.

The advice on ‘minding the gaps’ by ensuring short gaps between meetings, appointments, or transport don’t go to waste and are used effectively to deal with outstanding admin – leading to more efficient time management and a positive knock-on effect on work-life balance – is something I’ve found particularly useful during my time in law, particularly on secondment in a fast-paced in-house environment.

Likewise, I was pleased to see a whole chapter devoted to networking, which has been invaluable to my progression, particularly in the sector-leading diversity initiatives I have championed.

The suggestion of keeping a ‘professional development jJournal’, or ‘work diary’, is also one that I will be sure to consider as my professional journey continues.

Lastly, in such handbooks it can be easy for tips, facts and figures to overshadow the human element – and to forget that tips and experiences ultimately come from others’ personal experiences, and that law is ultimately a people business.

But that wasn’t the case here. Chapter nine, ‘Expert Advice’, is full of real-life advice from individuals at various levels within the legal profession.

The handbook is a great resource, and I would fully encourage others starting out in a career in law – or aspiring solicitors looking to develop skills to impress on assessment days and vacation schemes – to make good use of the handbook, and the tips it offers to augment personal and professional skills and expertise, as they strive for success.

Junior Lawyers Handbook 

Jonathan Andrews is an associate at Reed Smith LLP.

Discount for junior lawyers

Between 11 December 2019 and 11 February 2020, junior lawyers get a 10% discount when purchasing the Junior Lawyer’s Handbook .

Use the code JRHB10 at the Law Society Bookshop checkout.

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