Whether you are a 2L preparing for a summer associate program or a 3L starting a new role at a firm this fall, our Rutgers Law alumni offer five tips to help you build your reputation and succeed from your first day forward. Naomi Barrowclough RLAW’10, counsel at Lowenstein Sandler, and Omar Bareentto RLAW’16, associate at McCarter & English share what they learned during their first years as associates.
1. Think of your first impression as more than your first conversation on your first day. Don’t put too much pressure on that moment. How do you establish yourself as likeable, dependable, and willing to lend a hand? According to Bareentto, “You are building your first impression throughout your first year or two. Maintain professionalism in your communication and in the way you handle assignments and speak to others well beyond your first day.”
2. Understand the assignment. Take every assignment seriously – no matter how big or small it may seem. Senior attorneys will ask their colleagues about your work product, and your latest project could be your gateway to a great opportunity. Barrowclough suggests asking questions up front. “Ask questions like ‘how does this research issue fit in with the rest of the case?’ Look up samples, ask about the format and timeline. Everything you turn in should be as polished as possible, and that starts with getting as much information as you need at the initial meeting.”
3. Budget your time. Time management is essential for both you and your employer. Bareentto says, “Pay close attention to how much time each project takes you. Learn how much time you’ll need to allocate to each project and formulate your own processes for getting work done.” Be realistic when you are given a deadline from a senior attorney. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. As you gain experience, you’ll have the tools to create a work/life balance for yourself and know precisely what it will take to meet your next deadline.
3. Be responsive. Barrowclough notes, “Client service is important to a firm. Demonstrate that you are customer-minded by being responsive to all clients, internally and externally. Treat your supervising attorney like you would any client. Even if you’re buried in something else, take the time to acknowledge an email.”
5. Go the extra mile. As the junior person in a team meeting or on a call you should think of these spaces as a chance to show senior attorneys that you are adding value. Barrowclough says, “Send the calendar invitation, take notes and circulate them, file documents that come across your email. Think about what you can take off of a senior attorney’s plate, and they will see that you are adding value even if you don’t feel like you made a contribution to that particular meeting.”