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Lessons from the field: work smarter, not harder

Lessons from the field: work smarter, not harder

Kara Cook

New recruits are often told pulling all-nighters is par for the course, but one young lawyer offers a different perspective.

Kara Cook, the principal solicitor at the Women’s Legal Service in Brisbane, was a winner in the Lawyers Weekly 30 under 30 pro bono category this year.

Reflecting on when she first began her legal career, she said she regrets not working more strategically.

“Work smarter, not harder,” Ms Cook said. “Long hours do not need to be the norm in those early years if you set up good processes.”

She suggested young lawyers could save a lot of time by seeking out help, rather than trying to muddle through problems themselves.

“If you are not sure about something, ask! You would be surprised how many people are happy to share knowledge and information.”

For graduates looking to distinguish themselves, she suggested pursuing a position that complements their interests.

“Find your passion and pursue that,” she said. “If your values and purpose don’t align with your firm or organisation, then you will find it hard to set yourself apart and make a mark.”

Ms Cook spent five years volunteering for the Women’s Legal Service before joining the organisation full-time in 2012. She was promoted to principal solicitor in 2013.

In this series, lawyers at all stages of their career who have achieved success share their insights and experiences.

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