A bumper column special: junior work hours / how to know where to practise / macro joy / and a post-Christmas zoom out

Over at Learn Law Life, Jack, 19, asks whether the time I spent at law school prepared me for the hours of being a junior lawyer, Emma asks how to know what area of law to practise in, and I write about the need to include macro joy as a factor in your career decisions.

And finally, over at LawTalk, it’s nearly that time of the year where I wonder if this will be the year I try eggnog. In LawTalk column 924, “In Praise of a post-Christmas zoom out”, I talk about my favourite holiday past times, eating Mackintoshs and taking stock.

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Dear Katie: A theory of M&Ms and bowls

In this column I posit that our mental capacity is akin to M&Ms, and our activities akin to bowls, and I really just run with that. It’s a model for understanding mental functioning that helps one plan anything from a day to a life, and it’s something that gets missed when people allocate only resources like time and money. It also helps us all be a bit kinder with ourselves and each other, which is only good.

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Dear Katie: How important are grades? (Parts 1 and 2)

A reader wrote to me to ask whether anyone other than A+ honours students gets jobs after law school, which is a fair question because the message perpetuated in law school seems to be a resounding no (this is wrong).

In Part 1 of my response I address the issue of grades vs jobs specifically, incorporating information I got from a lovely legal recruiter I know. In Part 2 I zoom right out to the issue of grades and worth, an issue that as a recovering high-achiever (who did not do honours, by the by) I have grappled with for decades now. Even if you’re no longer in the position of receiving letter grades for your work, you can substitute feedback of any kind and get a similar result.

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Dear Katie: how to cope with exam stress?

Happy springtime, lovely listeners and readers! My third Dear Katie column is out, in which I would like a prize please for answering a question about exam stress in 1000 words. No doubt we will return to the topic for the other 20,000 words I have in reserve. I hope this little method/mindset combo helps ease some of the more extreme stress that upcoming exams will invite.

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Episode 27: Grad solicitor Alice talks finding a job, the transition from law school to practice, and the value of cultural know-how

This was such a lovely episode with grad solicitor Alice, and in it we got to traverse all sorts of topics I have not been able to cover so much with other guests lately, namely the experience of grad lawyers. Finding a job, transitioning from law school to practice, setting yourself up for success and balance in an emotionally demanding job, the culture of law school, so much cool stuff. We also talked about cultural awareness as a means to serve clients and colleagues and the work of a new family lawyer. It. Was. Great.

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Two for one: Column 921: Let's have some fun out there / Dear Katie: Should I take tax law?

This month's LawTalk column is all about something I both think is very important and consistently fail to do: having fun.

This week's Dear Katie asks whether you have to take tax law to be a proper lawyer, to which I say only if you want to be a proper tax lawyer, and then tell my fun anecdote about how I fell in love with tax law (it's just puzzles!).  

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Episode 26: Sharon Chandra talks family law, the role of happiness in productivity, and the utopia we might face towards

In this episode I talked to Sharon Chandra about family law, how productive a happy lawyer can be, flexible working conditions, gender and age bias, the basis on which you might choose jobs early in your career, and her hope that more law firms will shift from a top down management approach to a conversational approach (a hope I enthusiastically second).  

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News update - New advice column for LexisNexis / Podcast now on Spotify

I am so excited to be able to announce that I am writing an advice column ("Dear Katie") for LexisNexis on their platform for law students and graduates, Learn Law Life.  This is a platform covering topics like study and careers and wellbeing and life as a law student and new lawyer, and I am so grateful to be a part of it.  I have already written four of the columns and they have been super fun.  I am so glad to be able to write for places that let me be human and use phrases like "dumb dumbs" if I want.  You can read my first column here

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Episode 25 - MP Duncan Webb talks how to do good, the academic track, and becoming an MP

In this episode I talked to Duncan Webb, MP for Christchurch Central and co-author of your ethics textbook, about his career as a litigation lawyer, academic and now Parliamentarian.  We talked about how you can make a difference in non-traditional routes, what he wish he'd known from the beginning (nothing more than he did), his work for Christchurch homeowners in earthquake cases, how he once took down a gaming trust, and much more.

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Column 919 - Networking for those who hate networking

This month's column deals with a topic I hate: networking.  I get asked how to network if you hate networking quite a lot, and this really is my best answer.  Networking is horrible because it takes the humanity out of social interactions and replaces it with salesmanship.  Nobody likes a salesman (our brains go on high alert when we think we're being sold) and most people don't like selling.  But, dear readers, there are other ways to peel an orange, and this is mine.  This is a method that can still technically be called networking but is really just hanging out with cool people and learning fun things.  Granted, it starts out a bit scary, but boy does it deliver. 

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Column 918: Join the giving lifestyle today. Now, with boundaries!

You can now read this month's column here, in which I talk about how living from a place of giving, when coupled with beautifully strong and reinforced boundaries, can be the most promising and enjoyable way to be, not to mention the most likely to be successful.  

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Episode 24 - Brigadier Lisa Ferriss talks practising law in the army, applied international law, and finding ways to practise what you love

This episode was so full of joy, and has filled my mind with all kinds of sparks and excitement since we recorded it a few weeks ago.  Lisa is the Director of Defence Legal Services and Military Prosecutions and boy does she have an interesting career to talk about.  We talked how law is used in the army, military codes, international law, Lisa's experience as a woman of colour in the army, and how studying things you love can bring unexpected joy later down the line.  It was wonderful, and I am so grateful to Lisa for sharing her insights into this very different way of using one's law degree.

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Episode 23: Zylpha talks second career perspectives, bullying and harassment, and the NZLS work to address it

In this episode I met with Zylpha, a second career lawyer now working for the Canterbury-Westland branch of NZLS and, among other things, manning the Law Care phone line (0800 0800 28, more information below).  Before studying law she worked in banking, and we had fun saying "hmmm" and stroking our chins about highly hierarchical, power-based employment cultures.  We also talked about the big picture problem of harassment and bullying and the complex way those issues can and should be (and are being!) examined, including NZLS work to assist those suffering from it right now.

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Column 916 - It's not that bad, except it is

Phew.  Well.  The topic of this column is the culture I observed in the legal profession and how the worst wrongs sit atop giant below-surface ice bergs of smaller wrongs gone un-examined.  It's a topic that has been burning a hole in me for quite some time but one I haven't felt able to discuss.  Which is kind of the point.  (You can read it here.)

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Column 915 - Watch out for lawyer creep

This column is about keeping your lawyer skills within the lawyer domain as much as possible, and not letting them leech into other areas where they may not be as useful.  Of course, when I wrote this column back in January (a simpler time when Me Too and Times Up were but months and weeks old), the New Zealand legal profession was not grappling quite so directly with the issue of lawyer creeps, so the title is now a little unfortunate. 

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Episode 22 - CA President Justice Kós talks speaking up in court, the importance of being a teacher while remaining a student, and big picture reforms he would like to see

In this episode I speak with Justice Kós, sitting President of the Court of Appeal, and at different times a litigator, an academic, and a teacher.  We talked about his reasons for becoming a lawyer (another count for "good at English"), and his reasons for staying one (law as vocation); his perspective on the bench, both from appearing in front of it and sitting behind it; reforms to the civil system that promise increased access to justice and reforms to the criminal system that promise greater justice full stop; how his upbringing as the child of a refugee helped form his view of New Zealand and the importance of its democratic norms and institutions; and what he has learned as a student of those who came before and a teacher of those who are coming up the ranks now.  

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Episode 21 - Shaun talks big workplaces, second careers, and how to handle mistakes

I sat down for this lovely chat with Shaun, a senior solicitor in the employment/litigation team at a big firm, formerly an officer in the New Zealand army.  We talked fit in big organisations, second careers and how to choose them, working parenthood, how to get the most from your supervisor and how to handle the worst thing that can possibly happen: mistakes (note: not the worst thing that can possibly happen, even if your brain is telling you otherwise.)

We also talked about Shaun's recent experience with the prestigious Pegasus Scholarship, which you can read about over here, and touched a little on what it might be like to practise law in the military, which you can read more about over here.

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Column 914: You do not have to be a lawyer

Hello friends - isn't 2018 cosy so far?  I bring you today the first column of the year, with the year's first podcast episode to come next week.

This column deals with a subject close to my heart: not having to be a lawyer.  I hope that this news (if it is news) will make you feel relieved and/or excited.  You can read below...

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Email your questions to katie@thenewlawyer.co.nz 

 

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