Over the previous summer you had become convinced that this firm was at the center of the legal universe and surely a place where you would gain the experience required to represent titans of industry in their legal problems. You either moved to Los Angeles or found a new apartment commensurate with your new-found six-figure wealth and hunkered down to survive the bar exam.
Wearing your new work clothes and carrying the briefcase you got as a graduation present, you appeared at the firm for your first day of work, wondering what legal problems you would tackle first. After filling out countless forms, you are now sitting at your perfectly arranged and fully stocked desk, ready to make your mark on the legal world.
So here you are, an associate at a large Los Angeles law firm. You will never read an obituary in the Los Angeles Times describing someone who spent a legal career being a great associate. You will, however, read obituaries that trumpet great lawyers. That is the goal: being not a great associate, but a great lawyer. No one is going make this leap for you, so it is up to you to take advantage of every opportunity your firm provides to make yourself into an advocate, counselor and advisor. This article discusses ways to do it at a large law firm.
1. Steal from the Senior Associates and Partners
In the offices around you is some terrific legal talent. At your firm, you will undoubtedly find truly great lawyers. They are diverse in their styles, habits and approaches. Recognize this and harness the power it provides. Analyze what they do and how they do it. Steal. When you see a partner who does something in a way you find effective, do not ask for permission, simply take it from them and make it your own. Take the bits and pieces from individual lawyers to create a composite of skills and styles that works for you. Take the time to see how different people attack the same task. Find the ways which are best suited to you, improve on them and make them your own. If you do it well, someday a young lawyer will steal from you.