Some Associates Unprepared for Short ‘Shelf Life,’ Recruiter Says

Associates who enjoyed lockstep compensation and law schools that didn’t issue numerical grades may be unprepared for the competition in the new world of law firms, a legal recruiter says.

A false sense of security can harm associates who fail to take charge of their careers, according to recruiter Michael D’Amore of Attorney Career Catalysts, writing for the Legal Intelligencer. “An associate must take charge of his career the day he starts, as he cannot blindly assume that his firm or others will protect him forever,” D’Amore writes.

Associates didn’t always appreciate that they “have a shelf life” and “the protective bubble in which they worked was going to pop at some point” if they weren’t promoted to partnership, D’Amore says. The recession can teach a valuable lesson: It’s important to plan ahead.

D’Amore advises associates not to take the easy route by taking work that involves no challenges or risk. Instead, take the initiative, whether it’s volunteering to try a small case or taking a more active role in a deal. Keep a journal of accomplishments and save copies of articles written for the firm, he says. And start networking.

“If this recession teaches associates anything, it is the value of looking ahead and not just blissfully plugging along,” D’Amore says.

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