I’ve asked partners in many different firms about how associates can maximise the chances of doing well in their careers. Here’s a sample of typical responses.
- Excellent associates take ownership – they don’t pass the buck
- What you know becomes less important than who you know. Get networking and look after your contacts!
- Remember that you’re only as good as the juniors working for you – treat them well!
- Expect to attend first cousin weddings – don’t expect to attend third cousin weddings!
- To manage work/life balance, draw your own line. You can’t expect others to draw it for you.
- Do the firm some favours and the firm will repay you.
- For those working on international deals, make conference call times equally. convenient for those in US/Europe/Asia time zones.
- Don’t bring partners problems – bring them solutions.
- It’s the most difficult phase of your career, being in the middle. You need to manage both up and down to avoid being squeezed.
- You’re going to get more and more work and the work is going to get harder. So you need to learn how to balance things.
- Don’t ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself.
- Your juniors want to learn – help them do that!
- Be aware that everything you’ve learned at law school potentially works against you being a good manager of others. You need to delegate work and trust junior lawyers.
- Don’t hog the visibility.
- Be the change you want to see in your firm.
- Make it clear to others what opportunities you’d like them to help you with. If people don’t know what you want they can’t help you.
- It is not always necessary to say “yes”, but choose when and how you say “no”.
- Help the partner look good. Make proactive suggestions such as updating the client on developments.
- Try to always see things from the client’s perspective.
- Don’t create false deadlines!
- Make dinner plans for 9.00pm not 6.00pm – you won’t cancel so often.
- Find a partner to be your mentor.
- Tell yourself to enjoy the journey – then maybe you will!
- Build your internal network – look for secondments to other offices.
And finally…for those associates feeling overwhelmed with their current workload who cannot imagine being able to cope with the extra responsibilities of Partnership…
25. In some ways life gets easier as a partner, as you have more control of your own time.
Nice to end with that one I think. Which suggestions most resonate with you?