The legal profession is notoriously slow when it comes to adapting to change. Even though many law firms are doing a better job of adjusting to millennial lawyers’ needs and expectations, and law schools are requiring more practical curricula, the transition from law school to practice still proves tough for many new attorneys. In law firms, and other legal settings, it is easy for first-year attorneys to get lost in the shuffle. In an effort to foster an open forum to talk about the common concerns that first years face, Griesing Law hosted a discussion between law students, first-year associates, and senior leadership about how to handle office dynamics, career development and inter-generational challenges. A few common themes prevailed, and it would benefit first-year associates to keep them in mind when the going gets tough, as it inevitably will.
Communication Is Key
In so many aspects of lawyering, substantial time and energy can be saved if you are simply not afraid to speak up. For example, when it comes to billing time—an adjustment which can be a nightmare for many new attorneys—asking up front how much time should be spent on any given assignment can save you a lot of unnecessary anxiety. Rather than panicking because you are unsure whether you are being efficient in your research and writing, whether you should bill the time spent in training, or whether you can bill for reading that four-sentence client email, just ask. Make sure you confirm what activities you should be billing and whether there is a limit of time you should be spending on a particular project. Another important tidbit when it comes to billing is to bill your time contemporaneously with your work, as often as possible. Forgetting to bill your .1s may seem inconsequential in the moment, but at the end of the month you come to realize that .1s can really add up! You could be in hot water with your employer, or potentially even ethically, if you record your time inaccurately. Always record your time clearly, stating what you did, for which client, and for what purpose.
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