I’m teaching a CLE with a colleague today, and I’m excited about both the topic and the presentation. Teaching a CLE, however, can be a lot of work. I have heard more senior attorneys wonder if the non-billable work (creating the materials, the powerpoint, and the presentation) is worth it. Will the CLE help their reputation? Their business? I have no idea, but I can speak first hand to benefits new attorneys can reap when they jump into the CLE-teaching arena.
Sybil Dunlop is a litigator at Greene Espel. Sybil clerked for Judge James M. Rosenbaum of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota before entering private practice. In her spare time Sybil enjoys walking her goldendoodle (the perfect dog for a fearsome litigator) around some of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, reading British mystery novels, and dining out.
It’s that time again. Time for 2Ls (and a few lucky 1Ls) to join the ranks of the employed in the hopes of landing a permanent gig post-graduation. Of course, the substance of your work matters (a lot), but landing a full-time position from a summer associate gig requires more than just doing legal great work. What else do you need to do? Keep Reading ⇒
Our firm hosted an open house last week. At the party, I had a chance to catch up with old friends, chat with acquaintances, and even meet some new people. The party flew by, and it was fun. I left completely energized by the event. I did not, however, always feel this way about networking events. Only a few years ago, my party plan involved attending legal events while clutching a trusty friend and rarely leaving his or her side. What changed?
At the end of my 1L summer, I took a job at the ACLU of Maryland. I loved my work, but felt fairly useless for most of the summer—I just didn’t know how to add value. Desperate to feel helpful, I was delighted when someone would apologetically ask if I could make copies or help put together a mailing. Finally! Tasks at which I could excel and add some real value (I am a wiz at putting together mailings faster than a speeding bullet). I earned some real points for enthusiasm, but I don’t think I impressed anyone with my legal prowess. My 2L summer, I worked at a large D.C. law firm. With another year of law school under my belt, I found myself able to contribute substantively in the legal arena for the first time. I praised the gods and didn’t over-analyze my growth at the time, but, in the interest of sharing, here’s what Dorothy learned.
My first year in practice, I found myself repeatedly undertaking tasks for the first time—drafting discovery, writing a complaint, taking a deposition, defending a deposition, or handling a first oral argument. Even three years later, there are multiple occasions for venturing into new territory—new types of representations, new motions, and new forums. I’ve found that approaching something for the first time requires a bit more caution and planning than diving in for the second or even third time to complete a task.
I’m 30 weeks pregnant. There were no classes in law school (or even chapters in new lawyer books) detailing how to be pregnant at work. Pregnancy websites and books universally recommend “taking it easy,” and that’s about the long and short of the advice. This pregnancy has: (1) made me infinitely grateful that I do not have a job that requires me to be on my feet all day; and (2) given me a crash course in how to be pregnant (but engaged) at work. I thought I might share my experiences.
It’s the nature of litigation—sometimes I find myself insanely busy and other times, after a big case settles or a brief is filed, I find myself with a momentary lull. During my first year in practice, I did not appreciate that this ebb and flow was normal. Experiencing my first ebb, I panicked. Wiser, more experienced folks at my firm have since taught me that you need to relax, enjoy the ebb, and use it productively. But this approach takes practice . . .
With May fast approaching, the time is ripe to find presents for the law school graduates on your list. While Thrive (a New Lawyer’s Guide to Law Firm Practice) may not be the best gift for every law grad, it is a perfect gift for those starting big firm practice. (You might, however, not want to pass off a copy to a friend who has not yet secured a post-grad gig.) An Anti-How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, this book details the ways to succeed through earnest hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm.
My very first summer at a law firm, I repeatedly heard the advice: “treat the partner like a client.” Since I never had a client, the advice didn’t resonate at first. Fast-forward a few years, however, and I am a convert. Treating a partner like a client ensures that I am producing top-quality work, offering solutions, and thinking about next steps—helpful for the partner (fingers crossed) and good practice for me.
It’s inevitable in our profession: mistakes will be made. Sometimes, however, it’s exceedingly hard to pick yourself up, dust yourself up, and start all over again after a particularly rattling mistake. Misread a rule? You may find yourself pouring over all the rulebooks before submitting a simple filing you’ve completed multiple times. Cited an overturned case? Perhaps you’ll cite check your next brief three or four times. The trick is to prevent these lessons learned from becoming obsessions or hampering your ability to function at work. Easier said than done, no?