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Former Foster Pepper Partner Pens Advice for BigLaw’s ‘Baby Sharks’

Posted May 7, 2010 2:42 PM CDT
By Sarah Mui

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Grover Cleveland (no relation to the 19th-century president) rose to partnership at Foster Pepper in Seattle but ultimately left the BigLaw shark pond for King County's regional environmental policy unit. But he revisits law firm life in his new book aimed at ambitious law firm associates.

"I started taking notes for the book fairly early on in my career," Cleveland told Above the Law in an interview about his book for recent law graduates, released this January: Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks. "I think there’s material in there dating from my third day on the job!"

Cleveland told Above the Law that he left Foster Pepper six years ago and started writing the book in earnest three years ago. The book is based on his own wisdom as well as that of dozens of other lawyers interviewed.

"As I progressed in my practice, I began to mentor more associates," Cleveland told Above the Law. "I saw that sometimes there’s a pattern of mistakes that associates make. I felt that I could really help associates avoid some of these pitfalls if I wrote about them."

Some general advice from his he shares with the blog:

• Take charge of your own career from the start; if you know what kind of law you want to practice, make sure you start practicing it.

• Make yourself indispensable to more senior lawyers at your firm. Make sure there's someone at the firm who will say: "If so-and-so isn’t working for me, I can’t do my job."

• Be aware of what you put on your Facebook page or Twitter, because whatever you do reflects on the firm. "For example, look at the recent controversy over the Harvard e-mail."

On his website, Cleveland posts some excerpts from his book about helping clients choose their battles and office romances.

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