Navigating the new normal as a young professional Navigating the new normal as a young professional

Navigating the new normal as a young professional

5 April 2021 | COVID-19 Insights

COVID-19 has created a multitude of new challenges for workers transitioning to a remote workforce. While it comes with its comforts, it can also be a cause of stress and anxiety for employees, especially for those just starting out their careers. The lack of face-to-face contact with your peers means taking a more proactive role in your professional development. More than ever, communication is key in navigating your way through the post-pandemic world.

In this article, we’ll explore some of these challenges, and share some tips and skills we’ve implemented at Barry.Nilsson. to maintain our internal culture and ensure we aren’t falling behind in our professional development.

Due Diligence

Lawyers are subject to a series of obligations under the Legal Profession Uniform Law. Rule 4.1 in particular requires solicitors to perform their work competently, diligently, and as promptly as reasonably possible. With face-to-face meetings with clients and colleagues being limited, there is a risk of problems becoming out of sight, out of mind. This risk can be counteracted by putting systems in place to help you keep track of your workflow, and help those you work with also see what needs to be done. To keep on top of your tasks, and to make sure you are complying with your ethical obligations, keep in mind the following tips:

  • If working on files with other practitioners, organise regular (virtual) check ins to review progress;
  • Maintain accurate and detailed file notes;
  • Have a system in place where key dates and events are diarised, and if possible, ensure these dates are visible to those you work with;  
  • Maintain an organised system for storing correspondence and documents; and
  • Try to plan your time for the day or what you want to achieve for the week. While there are inevitably days where this will be impossible, keeping your tasks organised will help you stay on top of them.

Adequate Supervision

One of the biggest parts of the job for a young professional is learning how to do that job. While remote working has had a number of benefits, the trade-off has been sacrificing some of the informal training that occurs day to day; sitting in on phone calls, going along to client meetings, and swinging by a colleague’s office with a burning question have all become victims of the new normal. Starting a new job, or even entering the workforce for that first time, is all the more daunting when working with colleagues you have never met.

The challenge for both juniors and their supervisors or managers is ensuring they are getting the supervision and feedback they need to hone their skills. For solicitors in particular, our Legal Professional Uniform Law requires the responsible solicitor on a file to adequately supervise those working on the matter. Junior solicitors may also have a supervision requirement on their practising certificates. If you are unsure about how to make sure your supervision requirements are being met, make sure to get in touch with your state or territory’s law society or legal services board.

Having experienced these challenges first-hand, Barry.Nilsson. has put in place a number of initiatives to ensure all staff are staying on track in their professional development. Here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way:

  • Schedule regular catch-ups with a mentor or supervisor: make sure you and your supervisor or mentor are setting aside time in advance to check in, discuss your progress and address any questions or concerns.
  • Make the most of video technology: it’s easy to rush a conversation over the phone, but a video call is the next best thing to catching up in person and maintaining your professional relationships while working from home (and you can still BYO coffee!).
  • Ask for feedback: working from home means you may need to be more proactive in asking for feedback from your peers. Have a discussion with your supervisor or manager about how you like to receive feedback on your progress or what would help you learn. Keep track of the feedback you receive so you can refer back and apply it later on – particularly if you are faced with a similar task in the future.
  • Keep on top of your CPD requirements: most industry associations have embraced virtual education by offering CPD sessions at convenient times throughout the workday. Best of all these are often free.

Genevieve Bolton and Ashlee Sherman are solicitors in Barry.Nilsson.’s Melbourne Insurance & Health practice and embracing the new COVID normal.

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Ashlee Sherman

Ashlee Sherman


Genevieve Bolton

Genevieve Bolton


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