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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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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: Over the summer firms want to figure out whether you will be pleasant to work with and whether you are likely to contribute to the firm’s long-term success. Here are some tips for a successful summer and some of the differences between succeeding as a summer associate and a first-year: Focus first on your end-of-summer review. Think of your stint as a summer associate as an eight-week interview. At…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: I am concerned about being inefficient and spending too much time on projects. How much of my own time should I cut? A: None. Zero. Zilch. Seriously. Failing to record all of the time you spent on a project is one of the most self-destructive practices that can trap new lawyers. It is particularly insidious, because new lawyers typically cut their time with the best of intentions. Some new lawyers fail to record all their time because they are concerned about charging clients too much. This is a valid concern, and new lawyers need to focus on providing value…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Q: When I asked a lawyer for feedback on my work, the lawyer just said that it was “fine.” But when I got my review, the lawyer had given very specific negative feedback. What is going on? A: Providing any feedback consumes precious time. Providing negative feedback can also be awkward – even for the most intrepid lawyers. Unfortunately, this lawyer decided to skip out on giving feedback by being less than frank. Was this poor form? Yes. Inconceivable? No. Consider this story of a partner who once asked my advice about giving feedback to an associate. A mid-level associate…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical advice for new lawyers

Q: Do I have to attend firm social events? I don’t like those kinds of things. A: I get it. Firm social events can sometimes seem awkward. At first you won’t know many people, and the events may feel like an extension of work. You can’t truly let go, because you have to maintain your professionalism. That constraint at an event with unlimited free booze may seem like cruel and unusual punishment. But moderate, you must.  Particularly if you are an introvert, after working long hours you may prefer to sit at home on your couch – or lock yourself…

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