How can I succeed as a new associate?

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How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:09 pm

I'm graduating at the top of my T14 class and am starting at a V10 firm this fall in general litigation. I'm also terrified that I'll screw it up somehow.

How can I do well as a new associate? Any pitfalls to look out for?

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LaLiLuLeLo

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm also terrified that I'll screw it up somehow.


That's a pitfall. Accept that you will screw up. Nobody is perfect and you will make mistakes and feel they were dumb mistakes. They probably were, and that's okay. It comes with the territory.

Being constantly scared of screwing up and taking any mistakes and criticism to heart will only lead to you being a stress ball who hates life, and that's no way to live.

The fact that you're posting this in February is concerning...

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hopefuljumbo23

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby hopefuljumbo23 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:46 pm

Disclaimer: I'm a 1L, so feel free to ignore.

A mentor I talked to recently mentioned that "imposter syndrome" (e.g. the feeling that you don't belong, your high achievement was a mistake or pure luck, etc.) is a huge phenomena among high achieving law students, but can be even more prominent in URMs and others who are underrepresented in the legal field. I definitely feel imposter syndrome often, and I do think it is because of my race/ethnicity and sex.

It sounds like this is what you're experiencing too, though I don't know your identity. My mentor said that the best way to overcome this was to talk with others who might be feeling similarly and find a pseudo affinity group so that you can affirm each other. I thought it was a good idea.

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TLSModBot

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby TLSModBot » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:54 pm

First year associate here. You will screw up. It happens. Just make sure that you're being as thorough as possible in your work so that you make few mistakes and none from carelessness, and never the same mistake twice. Depending on the firm, office, practice area, and supervisor you will either get weaned on very basic drudge work or you will be thrown headfirst into things you are not remotely qualified to be doing.

No one really expects you to be perfect, but they expect you to try, to learn, and to be enthusiastic and professional. If you can manage that then you'll do fine.

It helps if you find some good mentors that you can bounce things off of and check in with to calibrate your work product and general approach to working in the firm.

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby BigZuck » Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:15 pm

Surprised by the number of genuine responses without anyone mocking the OP for their sly dropping of their credentials.

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Clemenceau

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby Clemenceau » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:07 pm

BigZuck wrote:Surprised by the number of genuine responses without anyone mocking the OP for their sly dropping of their credentials.

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TLSModBot

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby TLSModBot » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:11 pm

My completely-inconsistently-applied-rule-that-I-definitely-did-not-just-make-up is that every OP gets one presumption of "good faith decent person who misspoke"

Twice and you get crucified

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby rpupkin » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:15 pm

BigZuck wrote:Surprised by the number of genuine responses without anyone mocking the OP for their sly dropping of their credentials.

Would it be rude to note that OP's first screw up is wasting top-of-the-class-at-a-T14 credentials on a general lit group in a V10?

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby Johann » Tue Feb 07, 2017 12:01 am

Capitol_Idea wrote:Depending on the firm, office, practice area, and supervisor you will either get weaned on very basic drudge work or you will be thrown headfirst into things you are not remotely qualified to be doing.


disagree with this. you will be more than qualified to do everything you do at a biglaw firm. you may not feel qualified, but know that the model is super conservative, and you will always be overly qualified.

but yeah find a good 2nd year to bounce things off of.

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:23 am

Be available. Take instruction well. Do things to the best of your ability before passing them up the chain -- you will make lots of substantive and stylistic mistakes, but you shouldn't make a senior associate or partner clean up mistakes you'd have caught if you reread something.

Your job as a junior associate is to make life easier for more senior people, basically. That's a hard dynamic to grasp for a lot of people. In a lot of other jobs, you do what your boss tells you, turn it in, and wait for the next task. Try to be proactive, instead. Anticipate issues, think about why you're being asked to do an assignment and consider whether there's another angle to explore, etc.

But in general just be responsive, thorough and enthusiastic. You have the raw intellect to do the job, so the rest is just showing up.

Oh also, ask questions until you're positive you understand what you are supposed to do, then ask one more question.

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bruinfan10

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby bruinfan10 » Tue Feb 07, 2017 2:40 pm

rpupkin wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Surprised by the number of genuine responses without anyone mocking the OP for their sly dropping of their credentials.

Would it be rude to note that OP's first screw up is wasting top-of-the-class-at-a-T14 credentials on a general lit group in a V10?

+1

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby blurbz » Tue Feb 07, 2017 2:56 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:Be available. Take instruction well. Do things to the best of your ability before passing them up the chain -- you will make lots of substantive and stylistic mistakes, but you shouldn't make a senior associate or partner clean up mistakes you'd have caught if you reread something.

Your job as a junior associate is to make life easier for more senior people, basically. That's a hard dynamic to grasp for a lot of people. In a lot of other jobs, you do what your boss tells you, turn it in, and wait for the next task. Try to be proactive, instead. Anticipate issues, think about why you're being asked to do an assignment and consider whether there's another angle to explore, etc.

But in general just be responsive, thorough and enthusiastic. You have the raw intellect to do the job, so the rest is just showing up.

Oh also, ask questions until you're positive you understand what you are supposed to do, then ask one more question.



One caveat here from a midlevel associate: Definitely think about issues and other angles and etc., but don't take it upon yourself to just do them before talking to whoever assigned you the work. Chances are good that I already thought about what you're thinking about and it's already being handled. I don't like it when junior associates take longer to give me what I asked for because they were doing significantly more than I asked for and didn't tell me about it. When that happens, I just have to unravel whatever it is that you did to find the work product I actually needed from you. I try to be pretty clear with my expectations for junior associates with regard to the work I want to see from them and I very much have an open door policy and regularly field multiple questions a day from juniors about my projects and projects they're doing from other associates/partners -- I think it's important to ask questions to show you're thinking about the work. I'd rather have you ask me something basic than have to correct it in your work product later.

Most importantly: When you make a mistake, don't argue with me. That's the worst.

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Prana-9

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby Prana-9 » Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:03 pm

Stay humble. If possible take few tasks/projects at first and do them well. Act enthusiastic, listen, be attentive to detail, do not justify your mistakes, and don't blame others including paralegals/legal assistants for your/their mistakes. Also, show the group/firm that you are willing to sacrifice your time/convenience for the team (i.e., staying late if necessary).

90% of doing well your first year is intangibles, not work product. Always act enthusiastic and be respectful to everyone in the office.

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm graduating at the top of my T14 class and am starting at a V10 firm this fall in general litigation. I'm also terrified that I'll screw it up somehow.

How can I do well as a new associate? Any pitfalls to look out for?


own your screw-ups; ask for criticisms; welcome anything that points out your flaws. I'm not saying you need to be masochistic or anything like that; it's going to suck to be told what you did wrong. The reality is, that's how you learn and that's how you improve. At this level, you probably suck at being told what you did wrong and why b/c "fuck off, I'm T14, top of my class, going to V10 so screw off" type of mentality permeates at this level of achievement. That being said, real world honestly doesn't care - it'll chew you up, spit you out, and keep going. The only way to avoid this and to survive this gauntlet is to welcome that which points out your flaws/mistakes and keeps pushing forward, in an ever desiring push to improve.

If you are as you state above, my guess is there haven't been many times in your life where you are "middle of the pack" or simply, average. I'll admit, I've always thought highly of myself, as I think many on here do of themselves. The reality is, everyone is pretty average when out in the workplace. TBH, you'll be surprised by those who were mediocre in your UG/LS classes yet now are pure rockstars b/c they just hit their stride/got lucky/fucked the right person/etc.

1styearlateral

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby 1styearlateral » Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:37 pm

If by "succeed" you mean "screwing up less," then the best advice is to ask questions and take your time. And when a junior partner yells at you for format errors, remind him you graduated top of your class at a T14.

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2017 4:50 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Surprised by the number of genuine responses without anyone mocking the OP for their sly dropping of their credentials.

Would it be rude to note that OP's first screw up is wasting top-of-the-class-at-a-T14 credentials on a general lit group in a V10?

+1


OP here. Why?

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Future Ex-Engineer

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby Future Ex-Engineer » Tue Feb 07, 2017 5:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Surprised by the number of genuine responses without anyone mocking the OP for their sly dropping of their credentials.

Would it be rude to note that OP's first screw up is wasting top-of-the-class-at-a-T14 credentials on a general lit group in a V10?

+1


OP here. Why?


V3 or die bro. I'm new here and I already know that

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bruinfan10

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby bruinfan10 » Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Surprised by the number of genuine responses without anyone mocking the OP for their sly dropping of their credentials.

Would it be rude to note that OP's first screw up is wasting top-of-the-class-at-a-T14 credentials on a general lit group in a V10?

+1


OP here. Why?

you could work at lit boutiques like munger or W&C with those credentials, maybe bartlit beck, hueston hennigan etc. often a way better idea to work at one of those places than become a cog in the Skadden or SullCrom meatgrinders. if you're a nyc'er, i'd way rather work at even a patterson belknap than a DPW or STB type-firm. also you could clerk.

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rpupkin

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:31 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Surprised by the number of genuine responses without anyone mocking the OP for their sly dropping of their credentials.

Would it be rude to note that OP's first screw up is wasting top-of-the-class-at-a-T14 credentials on a general lit group in a V10?

+1


OP here. Why?

you could work at lit boutiques like munger or W&C with those credentials, maybe bartlit beck, hueston hennigan etc. often a way better idea to work at one of those places than become a cog in the Skadden or SullCrom meatgrinders. if you're a nyc'er, i'd way rather work at even a patterson belknap than a DPW or STB type-firm. also you could clerk.

Yeah. OP: you are likely qualified to work somewhere that is more interesting, or pays more, or both. I'm assuming, by the way, that your definition of "top of my class" means that you're one of the top few students in your class. If, instead, you meant something like top 15% - 25%, and if you're at a mid to lower T14, then becoming a V10 lit associate is a fine and ordinary outcome.

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby mjb447 » Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:39 pm

blurbz wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:Be available. Take instruction well. Do things to the best of your ability before passing them up the chain -- you will make lots of substantive and stylistic mistakes, but you shouldn't make a senior associate or partner clean up mistakes you'd have caught if you reread something.

Your job as a junior associate is to make life easier for more senior people, basically. That's a hard dynamic to grasp for a lot of people. In a lot of other jobs, you do what your boss tells you, turn it in, and wait for the next task. Try to be proactive, instead. Anticipate issues, think about why you're being asked to do an assignment and consider whether there's another angle to explore, etc.

But in general just be responsive, thorough and enthusiastic. You have the raw intellect to do the job, so the rest is just showing up.

Oh also, ask questions until you're positive you understand what you are supposed to do, then ask one more question.



One caveat here from a midlevel associate: Definitely think about issues and other angles and etc., but don't take it upon yourself to just do them before talking to whoever assigned you the work. Chances are good that I already thought about what you're thinking about and it's already being handled. I don't like it when junior associates take longer to give me what I asked for because they were doing significantly more than I asked for and didn't tell me about it. When that happens, I just have to unravel whatever it is that you did to find the work product I actually needed from you. I try to be pretty clear with my expectations for junior associates with regard to the work I want to see from them and I very much have an open door policy and regularly field multiple questions a day from juniors about my projects and projects they're doing from other associates/partners -- I think it's important to ask questions to show you're thinking about the work. I'd rather have you ask me something basic than have to correct it in your work product later.

Most importantly: When you make a mistake, don't argue with me. That's the worst.

Not from the world of biglaw, but balance in proactiveness and asking for direction is so, so important for junior people. Particularly very early on, going outside the boundaries of an assignment without seeking guidance is going to irk the people who are trying to help you the most (the ones who make an effort to give you assignments that are clear-cut and digestible but then have to wait around while you do extra, unnecessary work on whatever caught your attention).

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby BigZuck » Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:43 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Surprised by the number of genuine responses without anyone mocking the OP for their sly dropping of their credentials.

Would it be rude to note that OP's first screw up is wasting top-of-the-class-at-a-T14 credentials on a general lit group in a V10?

+1


OP here. Why?

you could work at lit boutiques like munger or W&C with those credentials, maybe bartlit beck, hueston hennigan etc. often a way better idea to work at one of those places than become a cog in the Skadden or SullCrom meatgrinders. if you're a nyc'er, i'd way rather work at even a patterson belknap than a DPW or STB type-firm. also you could clerk.

The cream of the crop don't go to White and Case big dog

Lol @ this guy man, I'm telling you

OP- You do yourself you sly fox you. Don't let haters like rpumpkin and babybearfan10 get you down.

v5junior

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby v5junior » Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:50 pm

He means Williams and Connolly, but still a pretty weird troll.

BigZuck

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby BigZuck » Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:00 pm

There's something beautiful about a poster named "v5junior" coming along to drop that nugget. Couldn't have pulled that off better if I had tried.

This thread is awesome

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:36 pm

Thanks Zuck.

OP here. This will apparently come as a shock, but I don't live in NY / don't want to ever live in NY. So that rules out a fair number of firms.

I really just asked for advice on doing well as an associate, not judgments on which firm I picked. TLS is crazy sometimes.

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rpupkin

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Re: How can I succeed as a new associate?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I really just asked for advice on doing well as an associate, not judgments on which firm I picked. TLS is crazy sometimes.

Pro-tip: When you gratuitously mention that you are "graduating at the top of my T14 class," people are going to poke fun at you.

As for the more detailed commentary on your choice of law firms in this thread, that only happened because you directly asked a couple of us to explain the ribbing.



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