Upset About Yelling Partners? Too Much Work? Get Over It, an Associate Says

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Complain, complain, complain.

Associates like to whine about irate partners who won’t listen to their ideas, criticize their appearance and heap on the work that takes them away from family time. Now an associate who has been there, done that has some advice for the complainers: Get over it.

Writing for Texas Lawyer, associate Jason Braun of the litigation and arbitration boutique Ajamie LLP says partners who yell at associates for making mistakes aren’t really so bad. “In my opinion, those are the best partners because when you make a mistake, you will never forget it,” he says.

Lawyers are expected to sacrifice leisure and family time for clients, he says. Your children may be sick or you may be going through a messy divorce, but those things aren’t an excuse for bad results. “Clients may sympathize, but they will do so while searching for a new firm to represent them.”

Associates would also do well to listen to partners’ advice about how to dress, Braun says. If a partner tells you to get rid of the goatee, “start shaving—with a smile.” And lose the backpack, he says. Associates are misguided if they think using a backpack as a briefcase is “hip, cool or somehow a symbol of independence.”

Braun recalls a partner who gave him this advice: “Don’t think like an associate. Think like a partner.” He has learned the meaning is to “put the client first and let the partner be your guide.”

Associates should strive to do perfect work for partners and should put their firm first, he says. They also should do their part to build morale at their law firms. “Everyone works better when morale and spirits are high,” he says. “Many associates, however, are entirely self-absorbed and pay constant attention to how they are feeling after having two bad days in a row. Get over it.”

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