I work for a small five-person firm. I'm the only associate. The other attorneys are great, and all have their own niche, be it an area of law or the way they get new clients. One does real estate, another estate planning, and so forth. One's in the Lion's Club, another is very political, another is active in the community activities with her kids, and so forth. I want to stay with this firm, but don't know how to plan my own future to make sure the other four want to keep me. What should I do?
Small Town Associate
Dear Small Town Associate,
It sounds as though you have many wonderful opportunities in front of you! Make it a point of getting to know the other four lawyers in your firm. Ask if you could go to lunch with them, dinner, or even breakfast. Ask if they would be willing to teach you about their practice and serve as your mentor. Study their practice areas (and client generation skills) diligently, ask lots of questions, and show enthusiastic interest. Sample the different practice areas. Seek out what you enjoy, make decisions about what you don't like, and gear your interests toward those areas. Attend events in the community and get to know community leaders. Join a local, state and national bar association, such as the ABA.
If your community sponsors a community-training organization (such as Leadership Tulsa, where I live), seek out an opportunity to become involved in that group. It provides excellent training regarding leadership, the various dimensions of your local community, introduction to lots of community leaders, and a survey of the nonprofit organizations. Become involved in volunteering for groups. This broad exposure may not make your decision-making any easier, but it will give you a wonderful sampling of what your community is about and how you can mold your future law practice to serve your community and to provide you and your family with a satisfying law practice.
Got a question for Mike?
E-mail D. Michael McBride III at email@example.com
D. Michael McBride III is a Council member of the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. He also Chairs the Outreach Committee. McBride practices federal Indian law and litigation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he is a Director and Shareholder of Sneed Lang, P.C. He also serves the Kaw Nation as an Associate Justice of their Supreme Court.