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Every fall, law firms around the country bring in a new crop of young, eager associates who are hungry to put what they learned in law school into practice. Although today’s new lawyers are well versed on the theoretical approach to the law, few have mastered the practical approach to assisting clients. As a result, what many find upon entering the legal profession is that they don’t know the ins and outs of practicing law and they need to be pointed in the right direction. Any lawyer new to a firm has to get to know the people, the firm’s culture, its politics, the demands of clients, of other lawyers (especially partners), what’s expected in terms of billing and whom they can turn to for assistance and mentoring. Advice is easy to give but much harder to follow. It can be general or detailed and specific. Generalizations are easy, but specifics are more difficult to reconcile. Those who proffer advice should fit the recipient’s mental picture of the mentor: mature in appearance and experienced in the practical aspects of the advice. As a former prosecutor, professor, practicing attorney, author and judge with more than 50 years of experience in the legal field, I offer to the new associates at Steel Hector & Davis the following simple rules: Practice law with (1) Integrity, (2) Preparation (3) and Professionalism.

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