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Let’s face it: there has never been a better time to be a new associate. Salaries are up; the economy is booming; and firms are hiring new associates faster than you can say “greedyassociates.com.”But these are not the only reasons that life as a new associate is so good. It’s the little things, the hidden perks you don’t see as a summer associate, that make being an associate worth it. Here is my list of the 10 best things about being a new associate: 10. New associates never worry about developing skin problems from over-exposure to the sun. When my non-lawyer friends are frying their skin at the beach or by the pool, I have the comfort of knowing that my skin is safely protected from harmful ultraviolet radiation as I sit in the comfort of my office, day after day. 9. New associates learn new definitions for familiar terms. Lawyers have a tendency to define ordinary words in extraordinary ways. Just look at any document request, and you will find that lawyers can make even the dullest words pregnant with meaning. For example, here is how the word “all” might be used in a document request: “The term ‘all’ as used in this document request shall be construed to include everything my request asked for; everything I should have asked for; everything that opposing counsel does not want to give me; everything I might need later on in the case, but do not know that I need right now; and everything else, so that when I file my motion to compel production of everything because opposing counsel has given me nothing, everything will be within the scope of my request.” 8. New associates pit their note-taking skills against those of court reporters. Every new associate knows that at a deposition, a court reporter transcribes — verbatim — every word that is spoken. But this fact does not deter today’s new associate. Just go to any deposition and you will find one (or more) new associates frantically filling yellow pads with notes. These notes are important and can be used by more senior lawyers for such crucial tasks as lining birdcages, wrapping fish and filling up folders that can later be stored in boxes. 7. New associates are a medical study waiting to happen. I am surprised some enterprising scientist has not enlisted a large number of new associates to participate in a medical study. Such a study might examine the effects of a diet consisting entirely of caffeinated beverages, vending machine food and expensive recruiting meals. I am confident that if such a study is ever performed, it will put to rest any concerns about the health of new associates. 6. The education of a new associate never ends. As an associate, my education has advanced far beyond what I learned in law school or even college. For example, I thought my exposure to complex math ended in college. I was wrong. I get a new math lesson each month when I receive my law school loan statement. It’s fascinating to learn — firsthand — just how quickly interest can compound. My investment in law school just keeps getting bigger and bigger. As a result, I will be learning this lesson for a long, long time. THE TOP FIVE 5. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, young associates can make every hour a billable hour. Today’s young associate has access to laptop computers, cellular telephones and fax machines; they, therefore, can bill time 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere in the world. Gone, thankfully, are the days when a new associate could not focus his full attention on the law. Years ago the birth of a child might kill a whole day of billable time. Not anymore. Today’s associates can revise a document, check messages and return phone calls from the delivery room in between contractions. What a great way to use what would otherwise be inefficient downtime. 4. New associates get to read other people’s mail. I thought you had to work for the post office to get this perk. Today’s new associates spend hundreds of hours poring over boxes filled with notes, memoranda and letters written by other people. I am amazed by what people feel compelled, for some mysterious reason, to write down on paper. What’s more, new associates get to do things with the mail that would make a postal worker green with envy. Young associates get to use colored tabs to flag important mail and then have the flagged mail copied. It doesn’t get any better than this. 3. New associates get to search for mysterious cases that no one can seem to find. What young associate has not had a senior lawyer say to him, “There must be a case out there that says (insert whatever obscure principle you want). Find it for me.” When I get an assignment like this, I feel the same excitement that the people who search for UFOs must feel. Like them, I use sophisticated searching tools for days on end, and I still find nothing. But I never give up hope. Someday I will actually find that elusive case — the truth is out there. 2. New associates, for no apparent reason, seem to get a pay raise every 28 days. That is all I have to say on this issue. 1. New associates get to have senior associates volunteer them to write articles on new associates. Much of an associate’s time is filled with research, writing and document review. As stimulating as these tasks are, I appreciate senior associates who volunteer me to do additional, nonbillable work, such as writing a mildly amusing article for a legal newspaper. There is nothing I would rather do after a long day of writing a research memo or motion for summary judgment than sit in front of a computer screen and write something else. Before writing this list, Tyler Murray was almost a third-year associate with Baker Botts in Dallas.

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