A recurring frustration among senior lawyers is the failure of junior lawyers to grasp the big picture of their work. It’s common for a young lawyer to have a solid handle on an individual task—a research project, for example—but not the broader context of the underlying deal or litigation. Because of this, they may spend too much time researching and analyzing insignificant or ancillary issues, and too little time on core issues of significance. Without a grasp on the big picture, it’s easy to miss important issues altogether. This approach is what accounts for 30-page memos that cover lots of ground but never get to the heart of the matter.

Understanding the big picture of one’s work, which involves understanding the client’s objectives, the risks it faces, the parties involved, and other salient issues, is an important component of being seen as someone who takes ownership of one’s work.

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