Friday, December 14, 2007

10 Guidelines

The ABA Law Journal is a great source for legal news throughout the country.

A recent article, 10 Guidelines for Newbie Associates, should be read by all law students and new graduates, as the guidelines can apply to legal internships, too. The guidelines are actually a summary of an article in the Texas Lawyer written by David Dummer, Esq., a litigation/regulatory associate with Weil, Gotshal & Manges in Dallas, in which Mr. Drummer talks about associate survival tips.

Here are just a few of the tips. Click on the links above to read them all.

Don't be afraid to be a new associate. While being prepared is incredibly important, it is OK not to know everything — no one does. Supervising attorneys know that new associates need training. A first-year associate who is uncertain about an assignment should ask questions and seek clarification. Specific, thoughtful inquiries demonstrate attention to the matter at hand and a recognition of one's limits as a brand-new practitioner.

Managing supervisors' expectations is half the battle. An important aspect of new associates' jobs is understanding the scope of assignments and meeting deadlines. But projects can take on lives of their own. One lawyer may ask for a deposition outline in one case, while another asks for a response to a temporary restraining order in another. Don't rush to complete both projects when the allotted time makes competently doing so impossible. Keep supervising attorneys aware of time-management obstacles and other issues as they come up, so they can adjust staffing, deadlines and expectations. That kind of open dialogue leads them to perceive the new associate as responsible and prepared rather than sloppy and delinquent.

Learn the case. When assigned projects, learn the facts and motives that drive the case. This is an easy way to dramatically increase the quality of the work product. It also makes you an invaluable team member. Although you may not realize it at first, junior associates often have the best command of the facts. For example, you may be the only person who has read all of the key e-mails and reviewed every document in the case. You may also be the person who learns the most about the client's business. Combining this encyclopedic knowledge of the facts with an understanding of the case strategy makes an associate valuable. For this reason, when it is time to attend hearings, prepare witnesses or draft critical motions, your knowledge will make you a natural go-to person (and a likely recipient of increased responsibility).

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