How to command respect as a young lawyer

“When did you finish school again?” “I can give birth to you o”.

As a young professional, it is easy to be in these embarrassing situations and also deal with the doubt that people may throw your way when they find out just how young you are. Here are tips to help you command respect as a young professional.

  1. Look The Part: When it comes to commanding respect as a young professional, the perception you give to others is improved drastically by adding professionalism to your wardrobe. Wear neatly ironed clothes, good perfume, a nice hairdo/haircut. Looking poise and elegant will earn you more points than looking shabby will. People will think twice before asking you to wash their plates.
  1. Prove Your Value: Your best weapon is your ability to contribute to your team and the organization at large. You can only achieve this when you prove your value and prove it fast. Prove your value by contributing valuable ideas during team meetings, turning in reports early, excellently handling every task given to you. Proving your value will not only make your team members respect you but also boost your self-confidence. You can only add value when you have value, so make sure you are not neglecting self-development (more below).

3 Use Your Age as an Asset: It is unlikely that your 50-year-old boss knows all about the latest technological and digital changes, but you do. Being a young professional is an opportunity to learn the organization’s processes and bring in fresh and new ideas at the same time. You can respectfully tell your boss to incorporate a new technological and digital trend into the organization. People would be looking forward to your perspective as soon as they notice your age is an asset.

  1. Communicate Confidently: Fear, nervousness, or even just lack of experience can make it hard to communicate confidently at work. A great way to handle this problem is to map out conversations and practice what you will say before meetings. Avoid filler words like “uhhhm” “really” “like” and sentences that belittle you e.g. “I am sorry if this is stupid, but can we..”I was hoping that maybe…”. Communicating in a precise and confident manner is an indication of a respectable professional.

5 Set Reasonable Boundaries: According to motivational speaker Tony Gaskins, “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop and what you reinforce.” As a young professional, it is typical to want to be liked by everyone, but if done correctly, creating boundaries will actually earn you respect.

6 Invest in Yourself: As a lawyer, your knowledge is what you are selling and is your greatest asset, so, to be a great asset to your employer, you need to invest in yourself. Improve yourself by participating in training/courses that will expand your knowledge, hone the skills needed in your firm and industry. Do not wait for the organization to invest in you; invest in yourself.

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