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How to Be a Vital Member of Your Law Firm and a Successful Junior Associate?

published July 28, 2021

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Being a junior associate is not easy. There is a lot of pressure on you to perform, and you are new to this career path. First of all, do not panic. We know that the stress of your everyday workload at big law firms can be overwhelming. You are still finding your feet and trying to impress the office. Know that it is not easy, and you are definitely not the only junior associate struggling. There are talks of layoffs right now, and you might think that you are next on the chopping board.

But, the good news is that it will get better, and you can make yourself indispensable.


There are several ways that you can rise above the rest and set yourself apart from your colleagues. While the economy might not be looking great now, you can do your best to perform, making a difference for job security. All you have to do is become valuable to your law office, and you are going to be back in the driver’s seat when it comes to your legal career.


Tips to Excel as a Junior Associate


So, here are some tips to excel as a junior associate right now and be an employer of your law firm without further ado.


Work Long Hours


This next tip is a controversial one. But, our advice is to work some long hours when you are a partner. We all know how important it is to have a break from work and not burn out. Sometimes, you do not get paid for working extra hours. However, suppose you are always leaving the office at exactly 5 p.m. In that case, this can also give the wrong impression to everybody else in the office.

You need to be willing to work late and burn the midnight oil if there is a critical case or task. This shows your commitment and that you are ready to go the extra mile.

This will be noticed in the office, and you can gain the reputation of being hardworking.


Be Nice to Everyone


It is expected that junior associates will go out of their way to be nice to partners and potential clients and impress them. But, you also want to ensure that you are pleasant to everyone in the office. You want to show that you can create a good atmosphere in the office and enjoy working with others. You will be interacting with paralegals, secretaries, and court reports regularly. So, ensure that you are friendly and helpful when you can be. This can go a long way and show you are a team player, adding positivity in the workplace. You will be surprised how much this is appreciated.


Take Ownership


As a junior associate, you are still learning the ropes. While this does mean that you do not have all of the same responsibilities in the workplace yet, it does not mean you cannot take ownership of winning a case. Yes, it will be the lead partner in your practice group that takes control of this. But, you are going to have a lot of essential parts to play in winning a case. You have to have the confidence to demonstrate that you could do this if it were your case.

So, looking at the bigger picture whenever you are carrying out a task, such as a document review or due diligence. Find details you can point out to the partner you are working with. Get familiar with the case and really have valuable input. Do not be afraid to say what you think or bring up any details that you think can be useful. The partner or senior associate is going to appreciate your thoughts and recognize your ownership.


Understand Your Deadlines


One thing junior lawyers really struggle with and lets them down at law firms is upcoming deadlines for an assignment. You are taking on a lot more work than you are used to and starting a new assignment. There is no doubt that it can be overwhelming. But, from the beginning, it is going to help to understand your deadlines in advance. In other words, junior associates need to know what they are and work toward deadlines even if they are in the future.

We know it can be tempting to work on a more manageable assignment first. But, if you know you have a big important deadline coming up, get a head start on it. There is nothing worse than leaving a deadline to the last minute and having to stay up all night. What’s more, this is not going to be how you perform at your best. Nevertheless, you can impress as a junior associate by working in advance and being prepared.

What’s more, this will not cause much upset and stress if unexpected tasks come your way. On the contrary, you will be able to deal with it promptly since you are organized and understand your workload.


Put Vacations on Hold


It does not matter how much you love your job; you will be looking forward to going on vacation. This is your opportunity to get away from the workplace for a bit and recharge your batteries. Everyone deserves to have a breather and take time off. As a junior associate, you are no different, and it can be refreshing to have a break.

However, you also need to be aware that your skills may be necessary for the workplace at some points. This is your opportunity to shine and show that you are committed to your work. So, if there is an important case coming up or something that you know will need your attention, it is best to delay your vacation. This will show that you are dedicated and can become a valued employer of the team. Of course, you are still going to get your vacation time. However, you have to be prepared that it might come at a later date than you thought.


Support Other Junior Associates


A lot of juniors associates view other associates as their competition. Indeed, they can be, and this is especially true if you are fighting for your job. But, taking this approach when it comes to daily interactions is not advised. You want to be judged on your own permits and not because you disadvantage another person. In other words, support other junior associates and help them when you can. This will allow you to build better relationships in the office and ensure a good atmosphere for working. It is also a great thing to do since you will need help one day.


Help with Mundane Tasks


Even though you are a junior associate and there are assistants, it is important not to take them for granted. It is important to remember that it will come back to you if something goes wrong with a case. So, it can be helpful to do some mundane tasks yourself and help when things get busy. While this can seem like extra work, it is good to ensure that everything goes to plan. It will also be noticed around the workplace, which can benefit when it gets back to the assigning attorney.


Be Easy to Manage


The last thing any legal firm wants is for a junior associate to be hard to manage. A legal partner should not have to hold your hand at every turn. Instead, you want to ensure that you are easy to manage. This means completing all of your tasks and submitting your projects before the deadline date. You want to be simple to work with and take responsibility for all of your work. You may be a newer employer, but you want to show that you have the skill set to fit in and do everything you asked of you.


Own Your Mistakes


It is important to remember that nobody is perfect. In particular, you are going to make mistakes as a junior associate. This is something that is expected as you learn the ropes. It would be unusual if you did not make any errors during your time in the workplace. The best thing you can do is own your mistakes and take responsibility for them. Trying to hide them and make excuses can actually backfire on you. Your mentors are going to be more interested in how you respond to your mistakes.

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