10 Guidelines for Newbie Associates
Associate David Dummer at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in Dallas gives new associates his top 10 tips for survival in a Texas Lawyer article. Here is a summary of his advice:
- If you are unsure about an assignment, don’t hesitate to ask questions.
- Let supervisors know if assignments pile up that are impossible to complete in the allotted time. Staffing, deadlines and expectations can be adjusted.
- Take advantage of the expertise and help that can be provided by paralegals and support staff. “Someone who performs administrative tasks rather than utilizing an assistant will spend more time on projects than his or her peers—resulting in a competitive disadvantage,” the article says. Also realize that such staffers probably know more about the practice of law than you do.
- Stay connected with pro bono service and community involvement. Your work will make you better rounded and could impress clients later on.
- Stay in touch with old friends; they could eventually become your clients.
- Ask more senior people for forms and samples of work product that can help guide you in your work. You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel.
- When you are assigned a specific project, learn everything thing you can about the case. “Combining [an] encyclopedic knowledge of the facts with an understanding of the case strategy makes an associate valuable.”
- Arrive early for meetings and be prepared with documents you may need.
- Always check the relevant statutes and rules; partners don’t necessarily know them all.
- Consider yourself a solo practitioner doing work for senior associates and partners. This mindset will help you realize the need to consistently deliver “good work, value-added creativity and efficiency.”