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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: I received some negative feedback from a partner, and I thought it was completely unfair. Not surprisingly our conversation didn’t go well. Any advice on dealing with this in the future? A: Yes. Negative feedback can be difficult to hear. But it is one of the best ways to get information about what you need to learn and to do differently. You don’t have to accept feedback. But if you don’t, you can make the situation worse. At most firms, the way associates handle feedback is a separate evaluation criterion. From the perspective of the person giving feedback, if…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: I am planning to relocate to a new city after I graduate from law school. I have had limited success making connections. Any advice? A: Yes. You first need to convince potential contacts that you are certain to relocate. Making connections in a new city can be challenging, but moving after graduation can be the ideal time to head to a new locale. After school you have the luxury – and the challenge – of being able to build your ideal career from scratch. Where you live is a key factor in building the career (and life) that will…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: I am a second year attorney at a small overseas branch of a large international law firm. Essentially, I have one boss. Over the past several months, my boss has been giving me less and less billable work and more and more non-billable administrative work, such a marketing pitch work. My hours are meager. If this continues, I am concerned that my legal skills will lag behind those of my peers. Any thoughts? A: Yes. Your concern is warranted. Your boss is using you as a pricey administrative assistant. And as the saying goes, “No one will care about…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: Everyone says I should do informational interviews. Any advice on how I should go about this? A: Yes. Informational interviews can help you in several ways. But you need to plan before you dive in. Here are some tips to make the most of your contacts: Identify your purpose. First, decide what you want to gain from your interviews (besides finding someone who has a job waiting just for you). Informational interviews can help you expand your network. They can also give you practice for future job interviews. And they can help you learn about practice areas and industries.…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks:  Practical advice for new lawyers

Q: I recently started my first law job. I am not used to getting multiple assignments from different supervisors and having to prioritize everything myself. I am feeling overwhelmed. Any advice? A: Yes. Practicing law can sometimes feel like drinking from a fire hose if you will excuse the cliché. Managing time can be a challenge at all stages of practice. Feeling overwhelmed on occasion is normal. Over time, you will become more adept at managing time. And investing the time to hone those skills is time well spent. Careful time management can help you reduce stress and ensure that you…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: I recently started practicing at a firm. I am finding that people don’t take me seriously because I look too young. Is there anything I can do? A: Of course this “problem” will resolve itself over time. But that does not help you right now. Here are some steps to consider: It may not be all about you. Except for those who pursued law as a second career, everyone in an entering class often looks young to the senior partners. Each entering class can remind them that yet another year has flown by. In other words, the reactions you…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical advice for new lawyers

Q: I have gotten lots of advice about getting off to a good start at a firm. Do you have any advice on things I should not do? A: Yes. I will start with a list of top-ten goofs to avoid from Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks and expound from there. Here is the list: Blowing a deadline or forgetting a task Citing an overruled case or statute in a legal document Coming up with the wrong answer to a legal question that has a fairly definite answer Not finding the answer to a legal question that has a fairly…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: I split my summers and have offers from three firms to join as a full-time associate. I have no idea how to choose. What should I do? A: Congratulations! That is a great accomplishment. If you want to keep your friends, don’t tell them. On a more serious note, the most important considerations are: Where will you learn the most from people you enjoy working with in an area of practice that interests you? This assumes that all the offers are in the same city and the compensation and benefits are comparable. If the offers are not in the…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Ms. JD Millennial Lawyer Survey Results

Associates feel welcome, want more feedback and are split on partnership. And many don’t record all their time.  By Grover E. Cleveland Despite regular admonitions from firms, many millennial lawyers cut their own time. That was a key finding from a recent survey of millennial lawyers. Partners and firm finance officers regularly lament that new lawyers don’t record all their time. The survey results won’t help those folks sleep at night. In response to the statement: “I always record all of my time on every project,” 37% of millennial lawyers disagreed. That’s a lot of lawyers and a lot of…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: What do I need to do to succeed as a summer associate? Are there differences between what I need to do as a summer and a first-year associate? A: The prior column covered the importance of professionalism and Amy Cuddy. Here are some more important tips for succeeding as a summer associate, including, remembering that law firms are businesses. Remember that the firm is a business. With the focus on fun, it can be easy to forget that law firms are businesses. But social events, your salary, and even the air-conditioning, only exist because lawyers at the firm provide…

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