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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Happy New Year! This month, I am going to ask the questions. With the start of a new year and the conclusion of the annual associate evaluation process at many firms, it is a great time to take stock. The questions below are designed to help you reflect on the past year and get off to a strong start in 2019.  What were your work highs and lows last year? Start with a high-level “fly-over” of the past year. What stands out? And are there any trends or patterns that warrant a closer look? Think about successes and what you…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Have a burning question about your career? Just send an e-mail here or tweet to @babysharklaw. I will answer in a future post. Q: I got my performance review. I thought things were fine, but my review was pretty negative. I mostly just listened. I don’t know if I should start looking for another job – and of course, the review didn’t give me information about which lawyers have concerns. How do I find out what I should do? A: Unfortunately, negative reviews sometimes come as a surprise. And as you note, the comments are typically anonymous. Here are some…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: I need to start paying more attention to business development. But it’s very hard to keep up with that when I am really busy. And it’s not my favorite thing to do anyway. Are there things I can do to “force” myself to be more consistent about business development? A: It’s always easiest – and often essential – to do urgent things first. But as you realize, there can be a cost to letting business development languish. Here are some tips that may help: Set modest goals. Particularly if you are busy, it may be easier for you to…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: The networking events that are part of new associate orientation seem awkward. Conversations lag or they will go on forever – or I won't have anything in common with the other person. It's tedious and draining. What can I do? A: Becoming a hermit is probably not an option. As you seem to recognize, you have to try to make the events more palatable. And remember that things get better. Just with the passage of time, you will build relationships and develop friendships and much of the awkwardness will fade. In a few months when you are billing lots…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

This month, I am asking the questions. I interviewed Michelle Travis, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, a Dean’s Circle Scholar and co–director of USF’s Labor and Employment Law Program. Michelle has just written a children’s book, My Mom Has Two Jobs. And she has great advice for women in the legal profession. What made you decide to write this book? I first had the idea to write a children’s book about working moms at the end of my two maternity leaves. I felt guilty about leaving my two young daughters with someone else, but…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: In a recent Podcast with Christina Martini, you said new lawyers should show enthusiasm. Is “show enthusiasm” code for “work 70 hours a week as a new attorney?” How would you advise a new attorney who is not physically able to put in those hours to demonstrate commitment or worth, or is working long hours the only acceptable method? A: This is the second part of my answer to the question. In my column last month, I focused on ways to show that you are “all in” so that senior lawyers are more likely to invest in your career…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: In a recent Podcast with Christina Martini, you said new lawyers should show enthusiasm. Is “show enthusiasm” code for “work 70 hours a week as a new attorney?” How would you advise a new attorney who is not physically able to put in those hours to demonstrate commitment or worth, or is working long hours the only acceptable method? A: It’s not code. I was referring to attitude rather than revenue. The two are distinct, but can be related. If you show enthusiasm, lawyers are likely to want to invest in your career. They will help you build your…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

This month, in light of the Roseanne tweet fiasco, I am changing the usual Q&A format of my column to address some of the other lessons for lawyers from the debacle. The main lesson, of course, is don’t be offensive or demean people. Hopefully, that needs no further explanation. I spend significant time teaching about strategies lawyers can use to exercise good judgment, build relationships and enhance their trust and credibility. From that perspective, the Roseanne incident provides a case study of actions to avoid. The analogy is not perfect, because the Twitter incident was extreme. But there are still…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Help me help you: Do you have a tip for Limiting Interruptions? Just send an e-mail here or tweet to @babysharklaw. Easy! I will compile a roundup for a future column. I thank you, and your fellow lawyers thank you! Q: I find myself putting off boring tasks until the last minute – and then things get really stressful. Any suggestions for getting over procrastination? A: To quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, “You can have results or excuses, but not both.” Granted, our topic is not weightlifting, but the maxim still rings true. Procrastination can be self-destructive – but we all know that. And while…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

As in the past, I am starting this column by asking you to help your peers. Send me your thoughts on how you know when to stop researching. Just send an e-mail here or tweet to @babysharklaw. Easy! I will share the responses in a future column. Thanks! Katie Larkin-Wong on Parenting, Lawyering and Staying Sane. Being a lawyer and a new parent involves innumerable challenges. For insights on juggling all the responsibilities, I interviewed Katherine Larkin-Wong. She is an associate at Latham & Watkins, a new mom, and the past President of Ms. JD. Her partner, Jono, also has…

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