The expectations of young lawyers need to change in order to meet the needs of law firms in the current economic climate, according to Gilbert + Tobin co-founder Danny Gilbert.
Speaking at a forum in Sydney in March organised by NSW Young Lawyers to address the career concerns of law students and recent graduates in the wake of the global financial crisis, Gilbert said young lawyers should adjust their attitudes with the times.
"These times put the spotlight on performance issues," he said. "The lawyers that will survive are those who can perform in high-performance cultures."
Gilbert advised young lawyers to keep an eye on the quality of work they do. "When you couldn't get enough lawyers, people would come into the profession and hang around, with no real commitment," he said. "You can't, in this market, bring those kinds of attitudes into work."
Gilbert advised young lawyers who find themselves with spare time on their hands to work on the precedents and knowledge of their firms, or to put up their hands to carry out pro bono work.
He urged them to remain alert, and if they thought retrenchments were a possibility, to voice their concerns and possibly even come up with their own schemes to save costs - such as offering to work part-time.
"It demonstrates commitment and loyalty," he said. "Don't wait until your firm comes to you."