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Tips to Stand Out as a First Year Associate

You’ve completed your law school exams, passed the bar exam, and perhaps even taken a bar trip. You’ve spent many hours in law school studying, taking exams, and preparing for the day when you step into a firm to start your job. You’re now ready to make a great impression. Here are some tips for your first few weeks.

  1. Contribute quickly.
    It is true that you are just beginning. However, you can quickly become an integral member of the team. Most likely, you will be assigned to a matter as the lawyers in that case need your assistance. You can help them with their assignments immediately by jumping in.

    Did you get a research assignment? To be able to contribute to the next brief, you will need to brush up on legal research best practice. Are you a document reviewer or privilege reviewer? These assignments enable you to be an expert on the facts. You can use this opportunity to create a timeline, key player list, or other useful work product that senior lawyers can refer to during discovery.
  1. Know your audience.
    Clients are not likely to be introduced to you if your firm is large. You don’t need a client, however.

    As a client, treat senior associates or partners working on your case as if they were your clients. Your job is not to make their work easier but to make them look good to the firm’s clients. This will help guide you when answering questions and preparing your work product.

    Consider this example: What’s the purpose of your research assignment. Partner may need to send an email answering a particular question to their client. A portion of the work product from your research should be available to them so they can copy it and paste it into the email. It not only proves that you are familiar with the assignment, but it also saves time when they write the email. You will be more likely to get back to your partner when you have the next research assignment.
  1. Ask for help or training.
    Ask lots of questions as you become a new associate. This is not just about finding answers to questions specific to your situation, but also learning where to turn if you have future questions.

    Large law firms often employ a lot of support staff, such as paralegals, knowledge services specialists and paralegals. Learn about them and what they are good at. They will help you, but you must know who and what you can ask them.

    This is also an excellent time to explore all technology that is available to you. For example, which legal research platforms are available to you and what document review tools your firm uses. Make sure you spend some time getting to know these technologies, so you can make the most of them before you begin your first case. You will quickly be an expert on legal tech, which will make you more valuable in the future.
  1. Establish healthy routines.
    You’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed by the demands of daily life. Use the time in the beginning weeks to set up self-care routines you’ll stick to.

    You can find a weekly class that you enjoy and then commit to doing it every week. Meditation is something you should not lose interest in, even if your schedule becomes busier. Although stress is inevitable in life, creating and maintaining healthy routines can help you maximize your productivity and enhance your overall well being.
  1. Invest in your relationships
    Strong relationships will help you succeed in your professional and personal lives. Your law school classmates are beginning to achieve amazing things. So make sure to keep those relationships.

    You should also invest in building new relationships within your law firm. You can combine networking and well-being. If you are a runner, find a group that runs in your local community. This will allow you to build relationships while also doing something you enjoy.