Junior Associate #8 - How not to be a Partner (and how associates should react)
Yesterday I was referring to The [non]billable hour, one blog that (although not posting much lately) I've always enjoyed reading. Another one is Above the Law, although this is more of a news site than a blog.
I was reading this post from Mark Herrmann that I liked, one of my go-to writers: "3 Ways Partners Screw Up" which I though it would be interesting to comment. Mr. Herrmann mentions 3 things:
1. Not preparing in advance to give assignment to junior lawyers
Problem: I am sure everyone can relate into this. Most of the times partners have plenty of things in their mind to actually "care" about the work of an associate. Yes, they want them busy so they are billing. But they won't care much about the associate breaking her brains to try to understand what's going on, so they would just dump all this information to an associate with a single sentence: "Please prepare as discussed".
Solution: "What? We haven't talk about anything?" Yes, I know. Deal with it. But instead of going crazy 34 hours in a row reviewing first, take a step back, try to see what information do you have outside the documents and GO AND TALK TO THE PARTNER and ask for an explanation. He will be more than happy to give it to you and you will be able to do your work way better and way more efficiently.
2. Partners gratuitously ruining associates' lives
Problem: Senior lawyers holding up work for an associate and sending it on Friday at 5 pm is a classic. Specially if all they had to do was to forward an email. They don't think of the associates and their personal life.
Solution: you're not going to see the first one coming. Trust me. But after you do the work, you have to tell that to the senior lawyer. Find a way and say it a good way, but say it. They will eventually realize that you are willing to compromise personal life for work (not in all occasions of course), but that you're not happy, and your happiness means better work, better atmosphere and more retention of the good associates for them!
3. Partners forget how little they knew when they were junior associates
Problem: Partners think that you have their experience, you have their knowledge and that you know what to do, and they actually demand all that from you! However, you don´t and they get annoyed at you.
Solution: this is a hard one. You have no other option than trying to explain that to the partner until they realize. The "I didn´t know that" and "This is the first time I´m seeing this" are very normal and partners should not be bothered by them. But don´t forget, you have to put the work afterwards!!
Anyway, I hope this helps to prepare for what´s coming. Let me know!