by Alexandra Sinatra, Guest Contributor
As a young lawyer, being educated in the law is important to me and my growth as an attorney. When looking for a job I have always emphasized that I want to have mentors around me who will help me grow in the law and expand my knowledge of the legal world. But what happens when your company does not or will not provide training for you?
I have come to this dilemma before and have found that a lot of individuals, especially lawyers feel as though they do not get enough training and thus are not well equipped to handle new tasks.
To help combat this feeling, I have come up with a list of ways you can train yourself and thus make yourself marketable in the workplace. These are all steps that I have taken to increase my skill set and make me valuable to an employer.
1. Utilize Ted Talks. “TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”
There are talks on everything from body language to negotiation to management. They even have talks on international and domestic law. For workplace training and how to be a better attorney I suggest turning to these talks. I recently started a group at my work comprised of individuals who are interested in growing their professional development. We meet once a week and discuss a Ted talk that relates to our topic for each month. This month we are discussing Negotiation and Confidence and all the subtleties surrounding these areas.
2. Attend In-house CLEs for Free. There a so many CLEs throughout the country that are focused solely on in-house issues and they typically provide these CLEs free to in-house counsel. I have attended multiple events like these for free. The ABA offers a Corporate Counsel CLE Seminar free to in-house counsel and the next event is Feb. 2016 in Scottsdale, AZ.
I am an attorney in Texas and the Texas Lawyer magazine hosts events multiple times annually where they provide free CLE credits to in-house attorneys and they also provide goodie bags and breakfast and lunch all free of charge.The Texas Bar CLE also provides free CLEs to attorneys, but they aren’t always tailored to in-house attorneys, but are still valuable nonetheless. Law schools typically also provide CLEs free of charge for attorneys and usually there is an in-house panel at those events, so you could get free CLE credit that way. Between in-house CLE events and the various free CLEs offered online, I have gotten all my CLE hours completed through 2018. There are numerous free CLE credits that are geared toward in-house attorneys and these help to train you in important matters that your company may or may not be preparing you to handle.
3. Find a Mentor. Throughout my law school and corporate law life, I have found that having those around you who can help teach and guide you is of utmost importance. If you have not found this yet or have not found it at your company, I would urge you to reach out to attorneys who have been in the legal world for a longer period of time and pick their brain. Some of my most trusted mentors are individuals whom I had never met or never worked for, but I reached out to them based on their reputation and now I seek advice from them on all issues in my legal practice. If you are a young lawyer then reach out to your state bar or law school and see if they have a mentorship program in which you can become involved or head to Linkedin and start making connections.
Having a strong network of individuals whom you trust and whom have a strong grasp on the law helps you to be trained in ways you don’t even realize. One of my favorite quotes is Proverbs 19:20 “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” Learning is not just about book smarts or formal education, it is about experience and understanding how an experience can guide you toward success and growth.
4. Become a Member of the Corporate Counsel Committee of your State Bar. I have become a member of the corporate counsel committee and there are numerous resources they provide to me that have helped educate me in my practice and made me a better counsel for my company. They help keep me up to date on law that affects my representation of my company.
All in all, if your company does not invest in training you then you have to invest in yourself, almost all the options above are free of charge and will make you a valuable asset to any organization. Ultimately, however, if your company does not invest in you and provide you with training, it might be time to move along and look for a company that values you and helps further your knowledge of the law.
Alexandra Sinatra is a graduate of Texas A&M University School of Law class of 2014. She graduated from the Texas A&M University in 2011 with a B.B.A. in Marketing. Alexandra’s ultimate goal is to be General Counsel of an NBA team. She enjoys watching basketball, working out, and spending time with her family and friends, including her lovable pit-bull Maddox. She is currently Corporate Counsel at Collabera, Inc.