What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:any advice on how to answer a question regarding why your grades dropped during 2L?


Ahh, the elusive "grade drop" concern. While I know TLS has extensively argued the question of whether grades matter, can anyone come in and say they were actually asked this question/anybody actually cared?

And not "oh, a friend of a friend at Gibson Dunn was no offered for grades..." or other such anecdotes. You know, people who have actually had this concern voiced to their face.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:18 am

Anyone have suggestions what an incoming SA might want to brush up on before the start of the summer? I'm leaning toward litigation, so maybe FRCP?

Renzo
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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby Renzo » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have suggestions what an incoming SA might want to brush up on before the start of the summer? I'm leaning toward litigation, so maybe FRCP?


1) Grammar, usage, and style

2) time (and to a lesser extent, cost) efficient legal research

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romothesavior
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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby romothesavior » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:55 am

Renzo wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have suggestions what an incoming SA might want to brush up on before the start of the summer? I'm leaning toward litigation, so maybe FRCP?


1) Grammar, usage, and style

2) time (and to a lesser extent, cost) efficient legal research

How does a person prepare for 2? It is by far my biggest worry for this summer. Im just "All state and fed" on WL Next at school. Not good at research. I also don't know what qualifies as time and cost efficient. How does one know they're good at research?

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby shoeshine » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:28 am

romothesavior wrote:
Renzo wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have suggestions what an incoming SA might want to brush up on before the start of the summer? I'm leaning toward litigation, so maybe FRCP?


1) Grammar, usage, and style

2) time (and to a lesser extent, cost) efficient legal research

How does a person prepare for 2? It is by far my biggest worry for this summer. Im just "All state and fed" on WL Next at school. Not good at research. I also don't know what qualifies as time and cost efficient. How does one know they're good at research?

Regarding Cost:

My Westlaw Rep offered classes on it. It isn't as useful under WestlawNext as it was under old Westlaw.

The reason is that you pay per search under old Westlaw.

With WestlawNext you never pay per search. You only pay if you open a case. Most big law firms have actually negotiated plans with WestlawNext where they pay one larger monthly fee and have unlimited access to a certain groups of cases. For example, (all federal, and NY State) or (all 9th Circuit, Scotus, and California Supreme Courts Cases). Big firms like this price structure much better so it actually means that you don't have to worry about how much you search or pull up cases on the unlimited plans. Printing each case still costs (there are unlimited plans for that too but most big firms have opted not to buy them) but the cost efficient thing to do is just save each case to one of your "folders" in WestlawNext and then you can access it for a year for free.

You can also copy and paste any case into word for free and print from there for free.

I took a bunch of notes on this stuff but this is just what I remember off the top of my head. If people are interested I will post more.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby Renzo » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:42 am

shoeshine wrote:
romothesavior wrote:
Renzo wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have suggestions what an incoming SA might want to brush up on before the start of the summer? I'm leaning toward litigation, so maybe FRCP?


1) Grammar, usage, and style

2) time (and to a lesser extent, cost) efficient legal research

How does a person prepare for 2? It is by far my biggest worry for this summer. Im just "All state and fed" on WL Next at school. Not good at research. I also don't know what qualifies as time and cost efficient. How does one know they're good at research?

Regarding Cost:

My Westlaw Rep offered classes on it. It isn't as useful under WestlawNext as it was under old Westlaw.

The reason is that you pay per search under old Westlaw.

With WestlawNext you never pay per search. You only pay if you open a case. Most big law firms have actually negotiated plans with WestlawNext where they pay one larger monthly fee and have unlimited access to a certain groups of cases. For example, (all federal, and NY State) or (all 9th Circuit, Scotus, and California Supreme Courts Cases). Big firms like this price structure much better so it actually means that you don't have to worry about how much you search or pull up cases on the unlimited plans. Printing each case still costs (there are unlimited plans for that too but most big firms have opted not to buy them) but the cost efficient thing to do is just save each case to one of your "folders" in WestlawNext and then you can access it for a year for free.

You can also copy and paste any case into word for free and print from there for free.

I took a bunch of notes on this stuff but this is just what I remember off the top of my head. If people are interested I will post more.


All this is true, although even if your firm has an all you can eat plan, it still pays to be careful. Often your Westlaw/Lexis costs will be billed to the client, regardless of the firm's pricing. Plus, the negotiated price takes into account past usage, so eventually the firm will pay for your searches in one form or another.

I think the bigger issue is not wasting time. You don't want to spend two days reading cases when a smart search would have got you what you need in 15 minutes. To that end, know how to build good searches--the WestlawNext free text method will sometimes do you wrong. Also, know how to use headnotes, custom digests, notes of decisions, and secondary sources to get to relevant topical info quickly without wading unnecessarily through case law.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby run26.2 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:02 am

romothesavior wrote:
Renzo wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have suggestions what an incoming SA might want to brush up on before the start of the summer? I'm leaning toward litigation, so maybe FRCP?


1) Grammar, usage, and style

2) time (and to a lesser extent, cost) efficient legal research

How does a person prepare for 2? It is by far my biggest worry for this summer. Im just "All state and fed" on WL Next at school. Not good at research. I also don't know what qualifies as time and cost efficient. How does one know they're good at research?

Here are a few things I remember having used repeatedly to save time and cost doing research as an SA (assuming your firm will have WestLaw and not WestLawNext):

1) Realize that you can choose billing that is either "By Transaction" or "By the Hour". You can set this under your preferences. When you're using "By Transaction," you'll pay for searching a database, viewing a case, and printing a case. Figure out when to use each (i.e. if you know exactly what you want, use "By the Hour", but if you may need to run a broad search and scan the results to find the case you want, use "By Transaction"). You can use a combination of billing in the same hunt for cases. If you find a case that mentions several other useful cases, get the first one using "By Transaction." Then log off and log back on and just enter the citations for all the other cases you need.

2) Run broad searches that will return all the relevant cases from the particular database you are using. Then run locates (I believe these are free after you have run the broad search) to narrow your results. The good thing about doing it this way is that you can rerun your locate if you are not getting the results that you want.

3) Learn the database identifiers (cta1, cta9, cta, sct, etc...). This will simply help with efficiency -- you will get to the right set of cases much more quickly than using the directory.

4) Begin practicing writing search strings now using Terms & Connectors (as opposed to Natural Language). The following are very useful:
/s - Find the words on either side of the connector in the same sentence
/p - Find the words on either side of the connector in the same paragraph
/n - Find the words on either side of the connector within n words of each other
This will help you get back cases which are relevant if you combine the right terms. Take a few minutes to understand the legal issue so you can generate a search string that will return cases relevant to your issue. Figuring out your search up front will save you a lot of time because you're less likely to be scanning irrelevant cases. Use the root expander (!) to return different forms of words you are looking for.

5) Call WestLaw if you can't figure out how to find what you're looking for. They will walk you through your search and send you a search string.

6) Do not get too hung up on saving costs. You should find the stuff you need to get your work done. If you're too frugal, you could miss something. But don't go overboard and run 1000s of searches and click on every case that is returned or stay logged on in hourly pricing all day for a whole week. That's how you rack up the $10,000 WL charge.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:42 pm

Re: staying late, I've heard/read (but never experienced first hand) that staying late as a SA can actually be detrimental, in that you're expected to be able to do X in Y amount of time, and putting in 60 hours where they think you should only be putting 40 hours may actually show them that you can't handle what you're being asked to do.

Again, no personal knowledge either way, just an honest question.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby traehekat » Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Re: staying late, I've heard/read (but never experienced first hand) that staying late as a SA can actually be detrimental, in that you're expected to be able to do X in Y amount of time, and putting in 60 hours where they think you should only be putting 40 hours may actually show them that you can't handle what you're being asked to do.

Again, no personal knowledge either way, just an honest question.


there are plenty of reasons someone might stay later that would have nothing to do with not being able to complete an assignment in the time they "should" be able to complete it in. you might have taken on more work than you can reasonably get done in the standard 8-10 hour day for SAs, so you stay late a few nights during one week to make sure everything is done. in that case the problem is that you don't know how to manage your workload, not that you take too long to get things done.

also, senior associates (and especially partners) are notorious for underestimating how much time an assignment will take, and i think this happens so much that no one is surprised when an SA has to stay late every now and then to try and meet a deadline.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:14 am

Are there any particular tips you would offer a 1L SA? I don't want to say I feel like I will be useless, but I feel like I will be useless.

Also, on a somewhat related note, how do big firms typically handle grade drops for 1L SAs? I am hoping this won't be an issue for me, but I want to be prepared. Do I still just have to impress this summer, or are grades going to be a bigger issue than for 2Ls? Any tips on how to address the topic if asked by a superior this summer?

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby DeweyWins » Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:30 pm

traehekat wrote:also, senior associates (and especially partners) are notorious for underestimating how much time an assignment will take, and i think this happens so much that no one is surprised when an SA has to stay late every now and then to try and meet a deadline.

Yup. One of the annoying things about being an SA is that it will often take you a day to do what a senior associate could do in 2-3 hours. I think most associates and partners are aware of this, but some aren't.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby romothesavior » Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:44 pm

I'll be honest, I'm nervous as shit about researching. I'm admittedly inefficient and slow. I think that will be my biggest weakness this summer.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby skw » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:27 pm

romothesavior wrote:I'll be honest, I'm nervous as shit about researching. I'm admittedly inefficient and slow. I think that will be my biggest weakness this summer.


I 100% feel the same way. I'm reassuring myself that the other summers are in the same boat -- hopefully...

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby blurbz » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:29 pm

skw wrote:
romothesavior wrote:I'll be honest, I'm nervous as shit about researching. I'm admittedly inefficient and slow. I think that will be my biggest weakness this summer.


I 100% feel the same way. I'm reassuring myself that the other summers are in the same boat -- hopefully...



Thirded. I have no idea how to research effectively.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby shoeshine » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:31 pm

romothesavior wrote:I'll be honest, I'm nervous as shit about researching. I'm admittedly inefficient and slow. I think that will be my biggest weakness this summer.

+1

And I feel like I am going to be the stupid 1L. I get the feeling that everyone will assume I must be smart since I got an SA spot as a 1L but in reality I have no idea what I am doing. I already feel the "imposter syndrome".

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby Cavalier » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:38 pm

Staying late shouldn't be a problem. The attorneys who assign summer projects often don't do a good job of estimating how long they'll take--some weeks you may only have a few hours' worth of work, and other weeks you may need to stay late one or two nights to avoid missing a deadline. If you're constantly staying late though you're probably either too slow or taking on more work than you should. Also you shouldn't let work stop you from attending a firm event.

Research will be simple in most circumstances. If you need to run searches but you're unsure what terms to use, here are two tips

1) After you do a search in Lexis or WestLaw, you can search within the initial results free of charge for the rest of the day. Searches will yield a maximum of 10,000 results, so you don't want your searches to be too broad (or else results will be excluded), but there's no need to use narrow searches by adding lots of terms, since you can always add them in later when you search within the initial results.

2) Use Google Scholar if you want to search without worrying about cost. I wouldn't rely on it exclusively, but you can certainly use it to test out a few search terms to see what will yield good results before turning to Lexis or WestLaw.

Firms aren't going to be closely monitoring your Lexis and WestLaw usage, but if you run a ton of searches you can rack up a large bill, which you definitely don't want to do.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby TooOld4This » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:45 pm

blurbz wrote:
skw wrote:
romothesavior wrote:I'll be honest, I'm nervous as shit about researching. I'm admittedly inefficient and slow. I think that will be my biggest weakness this summer.


I 100% feel the same way. I'm reassuring myself that the other summers are in the same boat -- hopefully...



Thirded. I have no idea how to research effectively.


1. If you still can, sign up with your WL/Lexis rep for a one-on-one session.
2. At the end of any assignment discussion you should always ask the attorney if they have any suggestions of resources you should start with.
3. Do not touch WL/Lexis until you have used Google/Wikipedia. Get a lay of the land and terms of art before you start digging into cases.
4. Find out what treatises your firm has access to. Very often you are better off starting there than with a terms and connectors search. Often firms have "free" access to online versions of certain treatises. Don't discount books, though. Flipping through chapters can give you a sense of the topic and issues pretty quickly.
5. Consider searching journals. Finding a journal article on your topic can be gold. They will often layout the history and give citations to the key cases.
6. If you find a key case, shepardize it by headnote. Headnotes should be your best friends.
7. If you do need to do a broad search, go as broad as you can with lots of synonyms, etc. and then run focus searches off of the one big search.
8. Ask for help. If you aren't coming up with what you are supposed to, ask the librarians or call the WL/Lexis number and have them construct a search. Also go back to the assigning attorney and let them know what you have done, and what you are finding.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby blurbz » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:48 pm

TooOld4This wrote:
1. If you still can, sign up with your WL/Lexis rep for a one-on-one session.
2. At the end of any assignment discussion you should always ask the attorney if they have any suggestions of resources you should start with.
3. Do not touch WL/Lexis until you have used Google/Wikipedia. Get a lay of the land and terms of art before you start digging into cases.
4. Find out what treatises your firm has access to. Very often you are better off starting there than with a terms and connectors search. Often firms have "free" access to online versions of certain treatises. Don't discount books, though. Flipping through chapters can give you a sense of the topic and issues pretty quickly.
5. Consider searching journals. Finding a journal article on your topic can be gold. They will often layout the history and give citations to the key cases.
6. If you find a key case, shepardize it by headnote. Headnotes should be your best friends.
7. If you do need to do a broad search, go as broad as you can with lots of synonyms, etc. and then run focus searches off of the one big search.
8. Ask for help. If you aren't coming up with what you are supposed to, ask the librarians or call the WL/Lexis number and have them construct a search. Also go back to the assigning attorney and let them know what you have done, and what you are finding.



Thank you!

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby Renzo » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:51 pm

Cavalier wrote: Also you shouldn't let work stop you from attending a firm event.



This needs to be qualified, because there are some people without a ton of common sense who read this board.

I would phrase it by saying: consider the firm social events as relatively important part of your job as an SA. Don't blow them off for work because you think it will prove something, or you think that the "real" work is more important. The firm views the social events as important, and you should as well.

All that said, there may possibly be times when you do actually need to prioritize other assignments over firm events. As an example: I was chatting with two corporate partners as an SA, and the conversation turned to a member of a previous class. They spent 10 minutes laughing/bitching about how they invited him to help close a huge corporate merger, where right in the middle of the action he handed off some documents, told everyone he was leaving to go to an event, and walked out the door.

Don't do that.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby Cavalier » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:58 pm

Renzo wrote:
Cavalier wrote: Also you shouldn't let work stop you from attending a firm event.



This needs to be qualified, because there are some people without a ton of common sense who read this board.

I would phrase it by saying: consider the firm social events as relatively important part of your job as an SA. Don't blow them off for work because you think it will prove something, or you think that the "real" work is more important. The firm views the social events as important, and you should as well.

All that said, there may possibly be times when you do actually need to prioritize other assignments over firm events. As an example: I was chatting with two corporate partners as an SA, and the conversation turned to a member of a previous class. They spent 10 minutes laughing/bitching about how they invited him to help close a huge corporate merger, where right in the middle of the action he handed off some documents, told everyone he was leaving to go to an event, and walked out the door.

Don't do that.

Fair enough. Obviously don't leave in the middle of a project for an event, or miss a deadline to attend an event. But if at all possible you should attend firm events, even if it means returning to the office afterwards or getting to work super early the next morning to finish in time. No one's going to care if you miss a particular event because of work, but it shouldn't be a regular occurrence.

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby lolzlaw » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:03 pm

romothesavior wrote:I'll be honest, I'm nervous as shit about researching. I'm admittedly inefficient and slow. I think that will be my biggest weakness this summer.



Agreed. I have taken all transactional classes for 2L, no clinic, no real research papers, and journal work was a joke. I opened Westlaw a few weeks ago to look something up and it took me forever!!!

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby lolzlaw » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:24 pm

blurbz wrote:
TooOld4This wrote:
1. If you still can, sign up with your WL/Lexis rep for a one-on-one session.
2. At the end of any assignment discussion you should always ask the attorney if they have any suggestions of resources you should start with.
3. Do not touch WL/Lexis until you have used Google/Wikipedia. Get a lay of the land and terms of art before you start digging into cases.
4. Find out what treatises your firm has access to. Very often you are better off starting there than with a terms and connectors search. Often firms have "free" access to online versions of certain treatises. Don't discount books, though. Flipping through chapters can give you a sense of the topic and issues pretty quickly.
5. Consider searching journals. Finding a journal article on your topic can be gold. They will often layout the history and give citations to the key cases.
6. If you find a key case, shepardize it by headnote. Headnotes should be your best friends.
7. If you do need to do a broad search, go as broad as you can with lots of synonyms, etc. and then run focus searches off of the one big search.
8. Ask for help. If you aren't coming up with what you are supposed to, ask the librarians or call the WL/Lexis number and have them construct a search. Also go back to the assigning attorney and let them know what you have done, and what you are finding.



Thank you!


Also, don't be afraid of the firm's library. They often want you to start there first!!

firm Librarians are usually really helpful too

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby lolzlaw » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:27 pm

NotMyRealName09 wrote:
llachans wrote:A lot of people mentioned drinking a beer while out. What about sipping on one mixed drink? Just curious because I'm gluten free and a lot of time gluten free beer isn't available.

Weirder to be the only one drinking hard alcohol among beer drinkers or to be the only one drinking soda among beer drinkers?


Frankly, I'd be impressed. Don't make a show of it, just order a drink, and if its mentioned, just say "thats how I roll." My opinion is its weirder to be the pop drinker than the booze drinker.

But I'd leave out the why part, unless you work with people who take their medical advice from former playboy bunny Jenny McCarthy, or unless you have been diagnosed (self-diagnosis doesn't count) with celiac disease by a non-quack doctor.



Same advice for shots?

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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby Renzo » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:42 pm

lolzlaw wrote:
NotMyRealName09 wrote:
llachans wrote:A lot of people mentioned drinking a beer while out. What about sipping on one mixed drink? Just curious because I'm gluten free and a lot of time gluten free beer isn't available.

Weirder to be the only one drinking hard alcohol among beer drinkers or to be the only one drinking soda among beer drinkers?


Frankly, I'd be impressed. Don't make a show of it, just order a drink, and if its mentioned, just say "thats how I roll." My opinion is its weirder to be the pop drinker than the booze drinker.

But I'd leave out the why part, unless you work with people who take their medical advice from former playboy bunny Jenny McCarthy, or unless you have been diagnosed (self-diagnosis doesn't count) with celiac disease by a non-quack doctor.



Same advice for shots?


Don't do shots. Adults don't do that. But, here's a pro tip: a martini is nothing more than a polite way to drink 3oz. of gin.

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romothesavior
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Re: What are the top 5 tips you would give an incoming SA?

Postby romothesavior » Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:21 pm

Glad to hear others are in the same boat! And great post, TooOld. I will definitely keep that stuff in mind!




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