development of young attorney

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 313311
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

development of young attorney

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 09, 2016 12:39 pm

I work for a respected, but small firm in an urban area, but not a large city. Think Jackson, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, Shreveport, Louisiana. I love my work and the people I work with. All of the partners are renowned in this area in their respective fields of expertise. My practice centers on litigation. I completed a fed clerkship before starting.

Since day one, I have been thrown into the fire. I have written (with some partner supervision) a federal appellate brief, I am writing a state appellate brief, I have taken a deposition, and written numerous dispositive motions at the trial court level (both federal and state), all within my first three months. While I always feel comfortable talking to the partners and asking questions, this is a sink or swim gig. I like that, but, at the same time, I worry that my development will be stunted without adequate partner supervision. Anyone have thoughts on this? whats best for the development of a young attorney? The throw em in the fire approach? Or the more measured, mentored approach?

Anonymous User
Posts: 313311
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: development of young attorney

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 09, 2016 12:48 pm

I'm dealing with this in a government position as well. At first I really appreciated the amount of responsibility and experience I was getting, and I still do, but as time has gone on I feel like my supervision has been reduced far more quickly than I expected. It used to be I could draft some important document or memo in its entirety, but I'd still have one or two levels of review before it went anywhere. Now, less than a year in, it seems like that oversight has diminished entirely, but no one actually told me that was going to happen. So out of nowhere I went from having a little bit of a backstop to none at all. And that's scary.

I think for small firms and government positions, despite the downside of lower pay, you get the benefit of jumping right into the deep end. However, sometimes I think it's crazy just how much responsibility comes with this territory. I appreciate having this responsibility as I've always been a "learn by doing" type of person, but I'd appreciate some better mentorship, so I'll be looking for a firm job next year.

User avatar
zot1

Gold
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: development of young attorney

Postby zot1 » Fri Dec 09, 2016 1:02 pm

You two are not giving your supervisors an adequate amount of credit... and yourselves too.

Just because a firm or government agency needs help, doesn't mean it will risk malpractice or harming the client by letting incapable attorneys fly solo.

Perhaps the level of supervision dropped so quickly because your boss recognized you could handle the work.

This is what happened to me. However, I too want to make sure I'm learning as much as I can, so I usually consult with colleagues or my boss as to whether I'm addressing an issue properly. That way I feel covered, and if there's something I'm missing, they can help me out with that.

I'm not sure what your offices are like, but if a good work environment, don't be afraid to advocate for your own development.

User avatar
deadpanic

Silver
Posts: 1277
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 5:09 pm

Re: development of young attorney

Postby deadpanic » Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:25 pm

zot1 wrote:Perhaps the level of supervision dropped so quickly because your boss recognized you could handle the work.


Agree with this.

Trial by fire is really the best way to learn the entire scope of litigation, and it is also just the nature of a small firm. If it is something very important, get with your boss to review. I am sure he/she will not mind to review it for a bit. Most of the time you will probably find out that it is not going to make or break your case. Litigation is not so black and white. There is a lot more wiggle room than you think.

In addition, it sounds like you are basically just tasked with writing and researching (other than your depo). You just came out of law school and a federal clerkship so you are probably actually the best writer at a small firm to be honest. If you want more development, I think you need to get some courtroom experience and you should ask about that.

To clarify, the partners let you take a deposition entirely by yourself without ever doing so?

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse

Diamond
Posts: 29317
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: development of young attorney

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:57 pm

Yeah, you probably are the best writer, and there are a lot of trial lawyers who love being in court (or strategy/prep that kind of thing) but hate writing. So they may just be thrilled to have someone who can do all their writing for them.

I think learning-by-doing tends to be the best and fastest way to learn - it can just be the most painful, sometimes, too. I also think there's more supervision/training than you realize in the sense that your partners are giving you discrete tasks to complete. At least, it sounds like your partners aren't giving you a case and saying "figure out what motions to file," they're saying "write motion x for this case." If it's the latter, I wouldn't worry about there not being enough supervision - there are experienced people setting the course; you just have to figure out how to enter the course into the system and steer the ship there. If they're asking you "where do we need to go and what's the route there?" it's a little different.

(For the gov person, I'm not sure you're going to get better mentorship at a firm, but I could be wrong.)

User avatar
zot1

Gold
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: development of young attorney

Postby zot1 » Fri Dec 09, 2016 3:20 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
(For the gov person, I'm not sure you're going to get better mentorship at a firm, but I could be wrong.)


Nony tries to save the world again :mrgreen:

andythefir

Silver
Posts: 564
Joined: Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:56 am

Re: development of young attorney

Postby andythefir » Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:12 pm

I'm now 2.5 years into working for rural DAs offices. I graduated in 2014 and I started as a clerk/intern immediately after graduating law school while studying for the bar. To this day, I have never gotten a second of training. In a huge volume job, supervisors just have no time to train because they're crushed by their own caseloads. This, combined with the fact that attorneys are almost always terrible managers/leaders, means that it's on you to (1) track down good experience and (2) avoid bad habits.

Anonymous User
Posts: 313311
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: development of young attorney

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:21 pm

I do legal work at a firm, and I never had a real mentor, either. I think I was supposed to, but the guy who wanted to be my mentor generally didn't have time to be one, and would therefore just throw stuff at me and tell me if what I threw back was garbage or not.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like there are few jobs in general where you're really going to have a true mentorship program/graduated scale of responsibilities. People are going to give you work, and if you do well, they'll give you more of it. If you don't, they'll stop giving it to you, and then you're going to have to figure out why.

I think once you're more comfortable with your work and your job in general, this won't feel like such a bad thing. I'm with you that the more gradual approach helps you become more confident by the time you get to the stage where you're on your own, but you'll get there even if you don't have that network.



Return to “Legal Employment�

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.