Month: March 2017

Choosing and Learning From Mentors

Much is said and written now about the importance of mentors, but when I started as a lawyer in 1981 (an “articled clerk”, as we were called) the term had hardly been heard in the corridors of even the biggest law firms.  That did not stop us from developing working relationships with senior lawyers that had many of the characteristics of the mentor/mentee relationships we are all supposed to seek now. I was fortunate to learn in the early stages of my career from three very different mentors, with three very different characters.  I won’t give them their real...

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Changing Style on the Fly

To be a great associate, one must be able to modify the style (but not the substance) in which advice is given, based on the client’s body language (at a meeting) or tone (on a call) during the meeting or call.  If the client is clearly indicating that he or she wants only “yes”, “no” or “maybe”, then a great associate will give the client “yes”, no” or “maybe” and then the rationale, and if the client wants a long-form showing of work, the great associate can handle that too—even if, in either case, that was not clear from...

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In-House Looking Out: 4 Tips for Outside Counsel

Life on the inside of a Biglaw client gives you a very different perspective. As in-house counsel, your position in the legal machine moves from production to—at least partly—consumption. And as a consumer, you find yourself developing strong views on law firms and their associates. Each in-house counsel is surely different, but below are four general tips that will serve law firm associates well in their interactions with in-house lawyers. 1.  Always know the business impact. There’s one question in-house counsel is always getting internally:  how is this going to affect our business?  Accordingly, that’s a question that in-house...

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