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Bad workplace habits that could be damaging your legal career

6th October 2015

Bad workplace habits

If you are a lawyer and are wondering why you have not been promoted whilst other colleagues with similar levels of experience continue to climb the ladder, then there may be some things that you are doing that are holding you back.

Solicitor jobs in London and the UK are competitive and the smallest of bad workplace habits could be the difference in you getting promoted ahead of a co-worker or not.

Here we take you through a number of bad workplace habits that you need to stop to improve your chances of getting that long-awaited promotion.


Being punctual is very important, especially in a legal role when you have meetings with clients on a regular basis.

Some in-house legal roles have flexible schedules, but if you don’t then showing up late is a big no-no.

Even if you tend to work late into the evening, but you are turning up 30 minutes or an hour late in the morning, it will still look bad to your employers and your colleagues, and could be holding you back.


Gossiping, whining and complaining are all bad traits that people will perceive as you being negative.

Everyone occasionally whines or gossips, but if you are constantly doing this then it will not look good on you.

Speaking in an article on Forbes, Amy Hoover, who is the president of Talent Zoo, said, “Your boss is likely responsible for ensuring her teams are contributing to positive morale and anyone on the team who is counterproductive to that reflects poorly on her.”

If you have a complaint about anything to do with the business then speak to your manager directly, and never get the support of your co-workers before speaking to your manager as this will look like you have been speaking behind their back.

Doing the bare minimum

If you have been asked to do a task, try to go above and beyond to be recognised because you can be sure that most of your colleagues will be.

Doing more work at your end and making it easier for your boss will make you look good, whilst in contrast doing the bare minimum will keep you in a bare minimum job, with no hope for a promotion.


Forgetting to respond

It is quite common for people to open emails, not respond to them immediately and instead red flag them.

This can increase the likelihood of forgetting to go back and respond to the email. It looks bad if you do forget to respond, especially if your manager has to harass or follow up on the task.

This might only be a small bad habit that you have got into, but it can really be a career killer.

You don’t ask for help

Let us put you in this scenario; in a meeting you have been asked to do some work and as you feel confident you don’t ask any questions about it. Only after starting the work do you realise that you do not have the correct information to complete the task and you need some help, but you are too embarrassed and instead muddle along and put something together that ultimately turns out to be wrong.

This is a common bad workplace habit and something that certainly will be keeping you back from progressing at your law firm. If you are a legal secretary and do not fully understand the task you have been given by your lawyer, then do not be afraid to ask them for help or clarification on the task as you want to get it right first-time and not have to start the work all over again.

Poor email communication

You must be aware of how you come across in emails, and how you can be interpreted by someone else. Sometimes an email might be perceived as rude or abrupt.

Don’t use text–speak in a business email and definitely not in an email that is being sent to a client. Use correct spelling and grammar, and if you are unsure then re-read your email and check it in Microsoft Word for spelling or grammatical errors.

Email communication

Social media

There are two bad workplace habits related to social media. The first is using social media too much. Logging into Facebook 20 times a day at work will hinder your performance and if you are caught on these sites during work hours, it could land you in a whole load of trouble.

The second bad habit that some people do is complaining about their place of work on social media sites. Everybody has bad days at work, but don’t broadcast it on social media as co-workers and managers could potentially see this.

Social media

Bad body language

Rolling your eyes, weak handshakes and avoiding eye contact are all bad habits that look bad to your bosses.

The old adage “actions speak louder than words” is definitely a true statement. Clients and bosses of law firms might perceive some of your non-verbal communication habits as unprofessional or rude, and these could impact on the development of your career.

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