A Program for Young Lawyers:
What They Should Have Learned in Law School
About How to Begin a Successful Career in a Firm Law
The Whole Lawyer
“The young lawyers nowadays love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for the partners and senior lawyers and love chatter in place of hard work.” Does this sound like too many of the young lawyers who join your law firm? We are paraphrasing Socrates who was talking about the youth in his generation almost 2,500 years ago.
Nonetheless, it remains a serious concern for law firm partners that many young lawyers have a profound lack of preparation for entering the profession despite superior or even excellent law school educations. Other than lack of practical experience, it is usually not their legal skill which is the problem. What they lack are some very specific characteristics that are not taught in law school. That is why partners and human resource departments are often disappointed when these highly-touted young lawyers don’t fit in.
Being a successful entry-level lawyer requires much more than being technically proficient or being a Brainiac with top grades. That is why partners and human resource departments are often disappointed when these highly-touted young lawyers don’t fit in.
A higher percentage of these young lawyers could have found a successful career path in the law firm if they had a much broader blend of legal skills, professional competencies, and characteristics that comprise the whole lawyer.
In fact, a majority of law firm partners believe that in the short-term legal skills are necessary but are less urgent than the other characteristics. There we have the definition of the problem – the young lawyers are expected to show up for work with those characteristics that they were never not taught!
The Solution to Retaining and Developing More Qualified Young Lawyers
Silber, Vasquez & Associates is a full-service Life and Business Coaching firm devoted exclusively to working with lawyers and law firms for over 25 years. Please see page 7 for a complete list of our services. And Page 11 for a summary of our background.
In our coaching law firms and their individual lawyers from San Francisco to Washington DC; from Mexico to Brazil, Chile and Argentina; to firms in the UK and Europe, we have seen this problem facing law firms when the brightest of their young lawyers do not live up to their potential.
We have discussed this problem with hundreds of our clients and combined this with the results of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System’s 2016 survey with over 24,000 responses from law firm partners. We have created a program designed for junior lawyers with the emphasis on pasantes (interns), first and second year lawyers.
Our program is the orientation that young lawyers need when they join a law firm that essentially no law firm offers its young lawyers.
Our program consists of three two-hour interactive lectures spaced approximately one month apart.
The content of these lectures is as follows:
LECTURE ONE: We call the first lecture “Introduction to Proactivity.” In this lecture, we teach the young lawyers the habits of proactivity, time management and how to avoid crises – habits that they will need to acquire now and which will lead them to use their time in a highly productive way, to obtaining the goals they want while at the same time avoiding stress and crises.
Approximately 90% of lawyers believe that the ability to be proactive, avoid crises, control stress and manage their time were skills needed right out of law school. And yet, law firms do not teach their lawyers how to do this. Silber, Vasquez & Associates does.
LECTURE TWO: Here are subjects we cover in the second lecture which we call “Joining the Law firm.”
- The Role of the Young Lawyer / Intern
- Emotional and Interpersonal Intelligence– the ability to treat others with courtesy and respect is the most important foundation for success right out of law school.
- Working with Others and Maturity– Nearly three quarters of law firm partners believe that the ability to work as part of a team is necessary in the short term.
- Commitment, Passion and Ambition: Keys to Developing Professionalism – This are necessary characteristics right out of law school.
- Initiative, Professional Qualities and Talents – Traits necessary for young lawyers.
- Workload Management – This is necessary immediately out of law school or in the first years of practice.
- Legal Thinking and Application – Law Firm partners agree that the Legal Thinking and Application are necessary either right out of law school or are abilities that can and should be acquired over time.
- A Young Lawyer’s Work – The ability to stay focused.
- Attitudes – Work is a priority along with commitment to clients, strategic thinking, what you do with your education, relationships with partners and senior associates and staying out of office politics and gossip.
- Ego and Clients – Subordinating your ego to the clients’ needs.
- In the Courts –Young lawyers’ first success come from being effective interacting with court functionaries or judges’ clerks.
- How to be Supervised – A young lawyer with a bright future can learn how to obtain the maximum benefit out of the supervision he/she receives.
- Business Development and Relationship Communications – The ability to retain existing business is the most important skill needed right out of law school.
- Dressing for Success – Going from dressing like a student to a high-quality professional is overlooked but an essential element to climb the ladder of success in a law firm.
- Technology and Innovation Transaction Practice – Nearly 60% of lawyers consider the ability to use current technology effectively as necessary right out of law school.
- Getting Involved and Community Service– Advantageous but not necessary.
LECTURE THREE: The third lecture is called Networking. It is not necessary nor expected for junior lawyers to bring new clients to the law firm. However, young lawyers have a very precious social circle from their university days of friends and acquaintances who will rise in the business world just as the young associate will rise. Remember, every important and well-known lawyer was once a law clerk or first or second year lawyers. It is very common once a junior lawyer starts working 12 or more hours every day, that he/she neglects this network that will be worth a fortune to them in the years ahead in terms of potential clients.
We will teach the young lawyers how to maintain this network without neglecting their duties to the law firm.