Big Law provided me with a slew of difficult and challenging times. I wasn’t particularly happy, and I eventually walked away because I wanted to do something else with my life. I wanted to pursue a brand of work that intrinsically made me happy. So I left.
Now that I’m out of the game, folks often ask me the following: “do you regret practicing law?” Absolutely not. Moreover, I continue to recommend Big Law as a first job for top law school graduates. As gruelling as firm life can be, it undoubtedly bestows young associates with an irreplaceable skill set that translates to any profession. My firm experience cut my teeth as a businessman, and I truly believe that it will serve me well for the rest of my life. Below is a list of the 10 most valuable skills that young litigators will surely glean from a Big Law experience.
1. How To Be Responsive – Partners expect their associates to be available at all times. That means having their blackberry accessible 24/7, whether they are at home watching a sitcom or on the front nine of a golf course. And when a bright-eyed associate gets that last-minute email requiring a diligent effort on a time sensitive assignment, the proper firm etiquette is to respond ASAP. Failing to do so can aggravate both colleagues as well as clients. My old firm mentor gave me a rule when I started: any email that comes to my inbox must be responded to within 30 minutes or less.
Now, this doesn’t mean that an in-depth research assignment should be thrown together in that time frame; instead, however, what needs to be fired off in the short term is a quick acknowledgment that the task is being attended to. This let’s your coworkers know that the message has been received and that the product will be delivered shortly. This keeps everyone on the same page and facilitates a steady workflow. Firms do a great job of burning this anal-retentive sense of urgency into their fledgling lawyers. This mindset will serve young law grads well in both Big Law and beyond.