As a new attorney, you are learning how to navigate the legal workplace and the practical, day-to-day aspects of law practice. Quite quickly, however, you may be asked to assist incoming legal interns with a moot court exercise or review work product from a summer associate or a first-year attorney.
What do you do? How do you manage or evaluate first-year attorneys or law students when you were in law school just a couple of years ago? Consider the following five tips if you find yourself in this situation.
1. Be Nice to Legal Interns
For some law students, an internship or summer associate position might be their first professional job. (It was for this author.) You may find that summer associates or interns are more comfortable asking you for feedback or questions about the workplace or a particular partner than a more senior attorney.
Be nice. Remember what it was like to be in their position and respond accordingly. If you are swamped and don’t have time for questions or to review a draft, let them know, but don’t snap at them. If you do have time, take them to lunch or coffee. Introduce them to folks in the office. When reviewing work, provide constructive feedback and suggest ways they can improve. If they are doing good work, let them know.
The workplace is a stressful environment, especially for lawyers. Being kind can go a long way to maintaining a civil workplace and creating an environment where people want to work and collaborate with peers.
2. Be Organized to Provide the Best Guidance
Organization is key for successful lawyers. Law practice, especially litigation, is driven by deadlines. Successful lawyers have a system to stay organized and on top of tasks. Clients appreciate an organized lawyer, and so should you.
Interns or law students working with you will also appreciate if you are organized. If you are responsible for handing down assignments and reviewing work, plan time each week to review the work and offer consistent feedback. If someone asks to meet with you to discuss your practice or talk through an issue, ask them to send a calendar invite so you don’t forget. If you meet with them to provide feedback or advice, organize your thoughts so your advice is helpful and digestible.
Agendas are very useful for organizing meetings. If you need to meet with someone you are working or connecting with, consider writing a brief agenda for the discussion. It can help organize your thoughts, keep the conversation moving, and ensure nothing important is forgotten.
Staying organized is useful to ensure you provide the best guidance and assistance to folks working with you.