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I just wanted to welcome all of the new first-year associates entering the profession this fall. You should feel good about making it through law school and the bar exam. If you want to succeed in practice, following a few simple rules could mean the difference between success and therapy. If you remember nothing else (other than the idea that the billable hour is your best friend), recall that the law is not so much about knowing the answers; it’s about pretending well enough to keep others from asking you any questions. And, if anyone at the firm asks how you’re doing, simply reply “busy, really busy.” Then wipe your brow, yawn and walk away quickly (as if in a terrible hurry). When you have no billable work, just walk through the halls humming something upbeat and smiling widely. Someone will find you an assignment. That said, don’t smile too much on Fridays; it screams, “I can handle more work.” Instead, look frustrated, loosen your tie and mess your hair. Nine out of 10 weekend assignments will go to your neighbor, Smiley. Fridays are generally fraught with danger because of the risk of a ruined weekend. For that reason, don’t dress casually. A suit makes you look like a serious player and the chances of getting caught for leaving early are much slimmer. In fact, always keep your door closed and work with your light off. That way, no one will know when you are working from home for the day (or week). Consider locking your office every night when you leave because it will make your neighbors think that you are working on something very important. Generally, mimic the mannerisms and demeanor of other lawyers at your firm. Doing so makes it much harder for people to tell that you have no idea what you are doing. Also, pay very close attention when a colleague is giving you an assignment. Look into his or her eyes and nod your head furiously. Then just start laughing uncontrollably – if you can force tears, even better. No more assignments from that partner! To avoid ever getting stopped in the hallway for a ‘quick’ assignment, walk quickly and carry a legal pad. It is amazing how intimidating you’ll look. When traveling, take as many calls as possible in the car because you cannot look at anything and have a great excuse for not paying attention. Travel time is usually not billable, but if you have to sit with someone from the office, that awkward conversation counts as ‘work’. Finally, no matter how big a rainmaker someone is, you have absolutely no obligation to speak to him or her while going to the bathroom. Ultimately, there is much buried treasure in the law, you just have to shovel and shovel and shovel. People will tell you that success comes with a mentor, a career plan or even high billable hours. It actually comes with some creative thinking and a willingness to have a little fun in the process. Manage your expectations now and you will avoid frustration later. Just don’t smile too much on Fridays, trust me. The Disassociate� writes a syndicated humor column and blogs a daily comic at www.disassociate.netcelebrating life in the law. Contact The Disassociate� at [email protected].

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