The Class They Didn't Teach in Law School: Junior Associate 101

First Impressions Count—Big Time

You've heard it a million times, but here it is again: First impressions count. This applies to your wardrobe, your office, and the way you speak in the halls and in the lunch room. You never know whom you will meet with on any given day and who may just stop by your office or stop to chat as you grab a cup of coffee. And, believe me, that inappropriate tie or off-color comment in the hall from your first week in the office will be mentioned again and again—even years later. Lawyers never forget.

Your Wardrobe

Always look pulled together. Business casual may have swept the nation, but it will mean different things in different offices. Be sure you are not dressing more casually than the attorneys senior to you. This really does mean neat, clean, pressed, and appropriate. No sandals, flip-flops, shorts, or Hawaiian shirts! Wear the appropriate outerwear as well. Unless there is a blizzard outside, you should have a dress coat to wear with your suit, not a parka. You should also have a decent briefcase to take to meetings; it need not be the most expensive leather briefcase in the world. The black canvas briefcases and messenger-style bags work just fine, are weather resistant, and usually expand to hold plenty of documents.

So you have to work on weekends; and you think because you feel bad enough that you are working instead of playing that you can just roll out of bed, skip the shower, pull on clothes from the laundry pile, and show up at work; right? Don't do it. You never know who else will be in the office! Remember: neat, clean, pressed, and appropriate. Jeans and sneakers are fine on the weekend, but don't skip the shower and basic grooming!