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Toolkit for New Lawyers

Article Authored By: Whitney Barr

Passing the bar and becoming a lawyer is a great accomplishment. Your first year as a practicing attorney can be very stressful and at times intimidating. Luckily, most bar associations have divisions or committees dedicated to supporting young lawyers.

In addition to taking advantage of the resources that Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section offers, I’ve found a few things to be particularly helpful during my first year of practice. These are certainly not necessities, but they have assisted in my transition from law student to lawyer.

Remarkable Tablet: This tablet is a digital notebook. The tablet can be used to take handwritten notes and convert them into text. Documents can be reviewed from the tablet, and notes can be taken directly on PDFs. The tablet has integration capabilities with Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive and the cloud function can be used to share documents with other platforms. Just make sure you consult your firm’s IT department to ensure compliance with internal data security measures. I think this tablet’s greatest selling point is that all your notes are organized and accessible on all devices. This means you don’t have to flip through one of the six legal pads that are likely floating around on your desk to find that note you took from that one meeting with a partner a few weeks back. I like to make a separate folder for each case I am working on to keep my notes organized. The tablet also offers an eye-friendly reading experience as there is no backlight or glare, which is helpful during long days of drafting or document review. Not to mention, the tablet reduces paper usage.

Fishbowl App: This app is for professional networking. It differs from LinkedIn in that you can stay anonymous, and other professionals on the platform are not self-promoting. You can join the general Law fishbowl to participate in discussion forums. The app also offers several sub-fishbowls such as Women in Law, Litigation and Arbitration, Ask a Legal Recruiter, etc. There are a wide variety of fishbowls to fit just about any career path or interest. Most discussion participants do not post with their name shared, but rather their position type, such as, “associate attorney” or “general counsel.” This feature encourages candid conversations and provides the opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from other professionals in the legal field.

Legal Writing in Plain English: This book is written by lawyer and lexicographer, Bryan Garner. Since 1994, he has been editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary. He also wrote the popular guide: The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style. You may have come across his books in your legal writing class in law school. The guides offer a clear and practical approach to legal writing helpful for lawyers at any stage in their career but can be a particularly helpful addition to your office bookshelf during your first few years as a practicing attorney.

About The Author

Whitney Barr is an attorney at David A. Axelrod & Associates. Whitney graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law in May of 2021 where she was a teaching fellow and member of the SLU National Moot Court Team. Whitney was also a student-attorney in the Human Rights Clinic where she pursued impact litigation. She is licensed to practice in Illinois and Missouri. Whitney is passionate about social justice and maintains a commitment to public service via pro bono work and volunteering.

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