Ever looked up at a high dive? If you’ve never climbed up there and jumped off before, the height can appear insurmountable. Starting out at a new legal assistant job can feel the same way — whether it’s a lateral career move from another office or your first position in the legal field.
Making a good first impression can help you get over your initial qualms. Here are four tips for making a good impression during your first few days on a new legal assistant job:
1. Dress your best.
It’s familiar advice, but that’s because it’s true. Remember all those rules on dressing professionally for an interview? They still apply after you get the job, even if you’re working at a “casual-Fridays-all-week” firm. During your first days in a new legal assistant job, you need to be noticed for dressing appropriately, not for the alternative.
2. Get familiar.
You’re going to be bombarded with new information, from ongoing cases and various attorneys’ preferences to coworkers’ names and where to find everything in the office. Of course, you’ll want to remember all this as quickly as possible (with the coffeemaker location high on your list). Don’t hesitate to ask people politely to remind you of their names or tell you where to find a particular file. They won’t fault you for forgetting, especially when you’re new on the job. If memorizing isn’t your strong suit, make notes. The more quickly you can get a handle on the basics, the better those first impressions will be.
3. Stay impartial.
When starting a new legal job, it’s always a great feeling when people want to get to know you. However, if a new coworker’s conversation consists mostly of putting the rest of the staff down, find someone else to eat lunch with — fast! Keeping out of office gossip will do more to sustain a good impression of you than trying to ascertain which information is accurate and which isn’t. It’s beside the point.
4. Keep calm.
Beginning a new job is stressful, and your mind and body need time to decompress and process information, even if you’re already bringing files home your first week. Right from the start, do your best to keep your work-life balance healthy. Make time each evening for activities you enjoy that aren’t work-related, whether you go for a run, catch your favorite show or spend time with friends. Your coworkers will see the results when your demeanor the next day is cool, calm and collected — perfect for the partners’ first impression of you.
The problem with creating positive first impressions is that you only get one chance. But when you succeed, it can help your legal career really take off.
Do you have any advice for starting legal assistant jobs? Share in the comments below.