The first day of the rest of your life

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First day as a CA

You finally made it, you completed your degree and passed the interview. Now your taking the first steps on the path to become an attorney at your new firm.  Your excitement made you wake up earlier, you get dressed, and your on your way to your office.

On the way, you think how awesome it is that you can start your career today. You think of all the cases your going to have and how your going to “Harvey Specter the Crap” out of each case. You see yourself on the fast track to become a director, and that’s just your goals for today. 


And then reality hits you like a bug hitting a windshield. Just last year you had time to learn and adapt. You had time to take everything in and even more time for assignments. Those days are over the legal industry is a fast paced, adapt or die industry.

You are welcomed and introduced to all your new co-workers. Your shown to a desk where you will work for the next 2+ years. They explain very quickly how things operate in the office, where each file goes, what the different color files mean and then you sit and feel a bit overwhelmed by all of this information you received in the first 15 minutes of the day.  Your colleagues go on with their work and you don’t have any yet. 

No quite first day

The chance that you will have a ‘quite’ first day is slim.  In some firms you will be assigned to shadow another CA for the first day. Then you will drive around with them and see them doing their work.  You will quickly learn where the courts, sheriff or the deeds offices are and who the most helpful Clerk is. 

I tried to remember all of the information. I had the misconception that I am a genius and I wont forget anything. The reality is that the legal world operates at such a fast pace that trying to remember everything was IMPOSSIBLE.

What to do

Get yourself a note book, and keep it nearby at all times, even when you think you wont need it.  The amount of information can be difficult to remember, and it wont be easily repeated. It is expected of you to remember what is said, so listen carefully and do what you are told.

Then you get back at the office, its almost 12:00 and you get to your desk.  There is nothing for you to do and now you wait.  Don’t sit around and wait for work to come to you take the opportunity and ask for work.

If your lucky and the firm tells you to take it easy don’t just sit back and do nothing. Always do something productive, ask the other CA’s everything you want to know about the firm and how things work.  Go through the notes you made and write down anything that you might have missed the first time around.

Don\t be dissaponted

Always use your time wisely. Don’t ever sit at the office and twiddle your thumbs or go on a browsing streak on Facebook. The GOLDEN RULE if you ever have nothing to do, ask if there is anything that you can assist with.  Any task that you help with, will teach you something. There is no meaningless task in the legal world. Everything is done for a purpose. The quicker you learn why and how something is done the better.

The end of the day arrives, your disappointed as you did not “Specter the crap” out of anything, but don’t be, your time will come where you will handle billion Rand’s worth of contracts.   It is impossible to realize the value of all the information you received on your first day.  Go celebrate with friends, you made your first day. Tomorrow will come with its own challenges.

For the first few days your work will consist of doing research, serving and filing, and making copies, the copier will be your best friend and your worst enemy. These seem like meaningless tasks, and they take up a lot of time but they are the most important aspect of any case.

Your first impression

You will most certainly be the “lucky” one, who inherits the “old files” of the office.  In every firm there is a pile and sometimes piles of files that NO ONE wants to work on, they exchange between hands quicker than shares. 

This is where you can make your first impression.  Take the time and read the contents of each file, keep your note pad next to you and try to summarize the file into a one page reference.  So that you know what the file is all about, and what steps were already taken, this will help you to have a solid basis on the way forward.

last minute advice

Never be afraid to ask someone advice if your scared to ask your supervisor ask the other CA’s or the secretaries if they don’t know they will tell you where you can fund the information you need.  Build your knowledge base by reading books, articles or even legislation, reading will help to improve your writing style and skill.

The most important lesson no matter how bad your day is or how meaningless you think the task is, Always enjoy the time as a CA!!!!

Photo by Crissy Pauley from FreeImages

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