The first few years of practicing law can be intimidating. New associates may be tossed into the pool before they can swim. Moreover, the focus for most new associates, and the partners who manage them, is on developing and improving new associates’ basic legal skills such as research, writing, and civil procedure. While these skills are critical aspects of becoming competent in the field of law, there is another critical skill set that should be part of new associates’ early training: risk management and claim avoidance.
Many new associates think that risk management and claim avoidance are issues reserved for partners and senior attorneys. This misconception can put the new associate, the firm, and the client at risk. Instead, new associates should be aware of how they can prevent malpractice claims, and how they can spot potential problems and risks. This article provides several tips for associates that apply when an attorney first joins a law practice, as well as after the attorney has worked for a few years, to help the attorney learn how to identify, prevent, and mitigate professional risk.