Welcome to Blacklines & Billables!
Blacklines & Billables (B&B) is a blog, forum, and podcast dedicated to sharing practical tips and tricks for success among law firm associates and starting conversations around other important aspects of associate life, such as the state of legal technology. (For a more fulsome description of the project and its origins, listen to the first episode of our “Blacklines & Billables” podcast.)
Our content falls into one of two general categories:
Associate Success & Development
The goal of our Associate Success & Development content is to help new (and not-so-new) lawyers compare notes on how best to get up to speed and excel in the fast-paced and demanding world of large law firms. Our content breaks down into the following series:
“Biglaw Basics”, our original post series, is essentially a crash course for junior associates on the practical/soft-skill side of the job. It’s an attempt to convey the tricks of the trade that most of us picked up only after making the same mistakes, and stumbling through the same pitfalls, over the course of our first few years. It covers a range of topics, from how to add value on day one (when you barely know anything at all) to how to own your own development, and it even extends to more granular, nuts-and-bolts topics, such as how to create and turn mark-ups and instruct your assistant effectively. Check out our Biglaw Basics series.
The Associate Angle
The Associate Angle covers our core Associate Success & Development content that is not part of our Biglaw Basics series. The series’s advice applies to associates at all seniority levels and (particularly with respect to certain forthcoming content) will deal with more advanced skills (such as managing the tone and delivery of client advice and other client communications). Check out The Associate Angle.
Associate Advice “Quick Tips”
Our just-launched “Quick Tips” series highlights single, discrete tips drawn from our longer-form content. Set out in a paragraph or less, each Quick Tip is a bite-sized trick of the trade that not only provides our readers with quick, valuable associate-success content, but also helps refresh key points for our regular readers so that they remember and internalize B&B’s most important advice. Check out our Quick Tips series.
View from the Top
This new series offers a partner’s perspective on what it takes to be successful in the associate role at a large law firm (from those who have actually walked the walk successfully). In our “View from the Top” posts, partners offer one tip for associate success. Check out our View from the Top posts.
View from the Client Side
A second new series, “View from the Client Side” features Biglaw-lawyers-turned-in-house-counsel discussing how their move to the client side informed and refined their understanding of what it means to be successful and effective as a Biglaw associate. Check out our View from the Client Side series.
Our “Exit Options” series explores issues relating to the end of an associate’s Biglaw career, including topics such as figuring out when it’s the right time to move on, considering your exit options, and landing the right opportunity for you. Check out our Exit Options series.
Tips for Summer Associates
Just like it sounds, our “Tips for Summer Associates” series focuses on helping summer associates plan for, and create, successful summer at their chosen firm that sets them up for long-term success. Check out our Tips for Summer Associates series.
Tips for Law Students
Reaching all the way back in the associate lifecycle, our “Tips for Law Students” series provides guidance and advice for law students seeking to excel in law school and land that perfect job after graduation. It kicks off with our fantastic guest series on “How to Succeed in Law School.” Check out our “Tips for Law Students” series.
Legal Tech & Innovation
The modern law firm is under intense pressure to innovate and harness the benefits of the latest legal and other enterprise technology (including AI and automation tools), adapt its business model to the changing market for legal service (including the rise of larger, more self-sufficient in-house legal departments and non-traditional legal-service providers), navigate increasing fee pressure, respond to increased cybersecurity and privacy concerns, and manage a more tech-savvy, tech-demanding, and tech-dependent workforce.
With our Legal Tech & Innovation content, we strive to offer insightful coverage and commentary on key developments affecting the practices of today’s firms and to bring focus on as-of-yet unserved needs and other nagging issues that can–and should–drive future legal innovation.
The “Blacklines & Billables” Podcast
We’ve launched a podcast to explore key themes and topics relating to both our Associate Success & Development content and our Legal Technology & Innovation content. We’ll be taking a deeper dive into the advice and other content offered on our blog with our guest posters and other thought leaders. Our first episode describes both the B&B project and our vision for the podcast at more length.
Our Forum: The Issues List
B&B is about starting conversations, sharing lessons-learned, and creating a dynamic, crowdsourced body of knowledge. We’ve therefore created a forum, called “The Issues List” (TIL), to give members of our community with an opportunity to weigh in on the conversations begun by our blog posts, to share their own tips and tricks for success/avoiding pitfalls and pain points, to tell us what topics they’d most like to see B&B address, and to ask questions to the community.
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An Important Bit of Housekeeping:
“In” versus “out of bounds” for B&B:
B&B is about the practical side of Biglaw practice, not substantive questions of law. (We view training and education on the latter as your firm’s responsibility, and we intend to stay entirely out of their way on that front.) In language that should resonate with any current or former law student, you might think of our community as being about the procedural, as opposed to the substantive, aspects of the job. Therefore, we will NOT be providing answers to substantive questions of law or providing guidance on the substance of actual client (or other) work. Again, that’s the purview of your firm.
(For a more fulsome discussion of what B&B will and will not cover, please see our original “Welcome to Blacklines & Billables” blog post.)
No legal advice; no confidential information
Additionally, two very important points to underscore—both of which, I’m sure, go without stating, but which we want to make explicit nonetheless:
Although most folks in our community and posting content our site will be lawyers, nothing here constitutes legal advice.
Under no circumstances will the posting of any content that contains even a whiff of potentially confidential information (about clients, your firm or otherwise) be tolerated. We take our professional obligations as lawyers very seriously, and we expect you to do the same.