Opinion

Memo to Associates: Don’t Follow Advice on Above the Law
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Memo to New Associates: Manage Your Own Career

Summary: Above the Law is at it again. Despite the title of a recent article posted on the site sounding upbeat and positive, the content in this “advice” article is anything but.

As summer winds down and law students all over the country are heading back to class next week, it’s hard not to think about what the future holds for these wide-eyed, eager lawyers-to-be, especially those 3Ls that are embarking on what is going to be no doubt one big blur. The next time they look up will most likely be to ask a bartender for another margarita next August when the bar exam is over. And then they’ll start work for the rest of their lives, the very next day.

  
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In light of these young attorneys entering the workforce, older lawyers like to take the opportunity to disseminate unsolicited advice, mostly of a negative nature. This dream-crushing may come in the form of sarcasm or melodramatic comments, but mostly it will be of the outright “your life is over” nature and “what have you done.” Here at JD Journal, one of our missions is to try and change the dialogue from negative to positive within the legal industry. Where better to start than with those young individuals that are just now starting out, not yet jaded and still take pride in their career choice. Not everyone has our good vibes, however. Like clockwork, certain outlets want to just focus on the doom and gloom, rather than trying to find the sunshine and rainbows. I know such optimism is difficult in the legal industry. I get it. Especially since lawyers are literally paid to look at a situation, anticipate the worst possible scenario and be prepared to go scorched earth at any given moment. A lawyer’s job starts when everyone stops being polite, but you went to law school. The damage is done. So I don’t see the point in dwelling on it. If I wanted to be depressed, I’d order Panda Express and watch the Notebook.

By way of example, in my opinion, I don’t see the point of this recent article written by Keith Lee that was posted on Above the Law. The article is titled Memo to Associates: Manage Your Own Career. While the headline seems like good advice (and it is), the content which follows is riddled with negativity cloaked in that sarcasm and melodrama I discussed earlier, with phrases such as “We picked you because you seemed like the most marginally competent person. You have little to no valuable skills, knowledge, or experience.” I disagree. You went to law school. You studied for an LSAT your senior year of college when everyone else was doing shots and going to theme parties. You sat through countless hours of the Socratic Method and were often forced to speak in front of all your classmates (and scary professor) for what felt like hours, and in some instances was hours, about a topic you probably weren’t familiar with while everyone started at you from their stadium-style seat. If you meet anyone that doesn’t think that’s a big deal, then they know nothing. A lot of people in the world barely have the confidence or skills to carry on a one- on-one conversation, let alone be put on the spot on a random Tuesday, speak to a room full of 50+ people on a topic you probably know nothing about and sound coherent. I think that’s a valuable skill. I also think having the discipline to sit and read 1,000 pages on the some of the most boring topics ever and then draft an outline on those boring topics is also a valuable skill demonstrating stamina that will serve you well in the real world, and sets you apart from others. Granted, it may also demonstrate that you’re a self-loather and enjoy punishing yourself, but it shows some sort of dedication and drive nonetheless. I just do not see the point in the statements like: “Only after you’ve rammed your head against the wall until it’s bloody should you come ask a question.” (when discussing a new hire seeking advice from a mentor). Why is blood in the conversation? Why is anyone bleeding?

The article also goes on to scare these new attorneys with the exaggerated idea that “While we do have a ‘mentoring program,’ it’s largely for show.” That’s not true. A good firm will invest time in their future attorneys (after all, the better adjusted you are, the happier you’ll be and the more money you’ll make them).  I’m not saying you’ll sit around braiding each other’s hair and watching Dancing with the Stars, but I like to think (again, the optimist in me) that people genuinely want to pay it forward, and seasoned attorneys (smart ones, at least) will take the time to groom the young ones into mini-me’s.  If you’re an experienced attorney and think this is impossible, I challenge you to make a small change. Meet a new hire for coffee, or when you walk to get your salad for lunch, ask them to join you. I swear, it’ll be ok.

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So do me a favor young lawyers – stay positive!  Do not embrace the horror, avoid the negativity and be confident that the future will be bright. If it’s not, take those awesome lawyer skills you’ve earned and run for President. I hear they need candidates.

Source article: http://abovethelaw.com/2015/08/memo-to-new-associates-manage-your-own-career/



Harrison Barnes was previously the target of criticism from Above the Law for publishing a set of resume guidelines for attorneys. Learn more in What is Wrong with Above the Law and Joe Patrice?

Read more about Above the Law’s attacks on Harrison Barnes here:

SLIME FOR CASH: Above the Law Joins Albert’s (a.k.a. Robert Kinney’s) Decade-Long Ballistic Cyberbullying Campaign to Destroy Competitor for Firing Him



 

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