When I first decided to contribute to Generation J.D., I wanted to make sure to include a reflections post on how my first year is going. It’s common knowledge that the role of a first-year associate is comprised of many things, including seemingly endless billable hours, continuing legal education (finally outside of the fake law bar exam world), marketing (whatever that is) and perhaps trying to figure out what you want to do when you “grow up”. Especially when you are coming off the roller coaster of the bar exam, it could feel like stepping off the ride and suddenly facing a mountain to climb.
One of the most important things I’ve learned so far is that to do my job effectively, I need to use the resources available to me. This has been a challenge for me. Having been a paralegal for about 10 years, I’m just used to completing a project on my own. But as attorneys, we simply don’t have the time to do everything. I’ve been working on delegating to my assistant or a paralegal or even collaborating with my fellow associates on projects. This has helped to bring my stress levels down and
my workload management overall. So, just remember that you don’t have to do this all on your own!
I’ve also learned to take the time to do continuing legal education. Especially in our first year, we need to develop that depth and skill in our practice areas. I try to act like a big legal sponge, learning all that I possibly can, especially from the more experienced attorneys around me. But it’s also hard to make time to read all the journals and articles that are so relevant. Often, none of this is “billable” or “marketing,” so it’s difficult to make the time. I’m still working on this, too!
I’m going to get into marketing in my next post, but for now, I wanted to point out marketing is like its own full-time job. I’ve found that clients don’t simply appear out of thin air – you must go get them, or leverage referral sources. These relationships take significant time to develop and nurture, often in addition to managing billable hour requirements.
Overall, though, my first six months have been amazing, overall. Do you have any reflections you’d like to share from your time as a first-year associate?