Tips For Law Firm Clerks or Associates

Students often focus intensely on landing a  position with a law firm, but fail to focus on what they need to do once they are at the firm to make themselves successful.  Follow these tips to maximize your experience.

1.  When you receive an assignment, if the attorney does not give you a deadline, ask when it is needed and agree on a specific date.  This ensures a meeting of the minds regarding expectations on the assignment. 

2.  If the attorney asks when you think you can have an assignment ready, add an extra day or two when possible.  You may have unexpected, urgent assignments come up in the meantime.  It is extremely important to always meet any deadline since timeliness is key in law firms.

3.  Understand the role of billable hours in what you do.  Talk with your managing attorney about key phrases to use for various activities when describing your work.  Most firms expect you to include ALL time you spend on a project on your timesheet, but you should understand that they will likely cut a good portion of it since it understandably takes you longer than a seasoned attorney.

4.  Always write down every detail of an assignment when it is given to you.  Do NOT rely on your memory. 

5.  Carry a legal pad with you everywhere you go in the firm.  I can’t tell you how many times I received assignments as an associate from partners who stopped me as they passed me in the hall, while I was heating my lunch in the break room, or even at birthday celebrations.