In parts one and two of the Career Center “Tip of the Day” series, focused on how junior associates can become more indispensable to their law firms, we covered the importance of taking ownership of your work and becoming an expert in your field. Today, we’ll discuss effective management strategies you can use to not only help you manage your work but the people with whom you work.
These tips are provided by the experienced recruiters at Lateral Link, who, in addition to providing sound career advice, can advance your career by consulting with you on the hundreds of law firm and in-house positions they have in their network.
Now, on to tip #3….
Even as a lowly first-year associate, you are expected to be a manager of secretaries and/or paralegals, some of whom may have decades of experience under their belt. The key to getting them to do more work for you and to be committed to getting you the best results is to treat them with respect. Also, be sure to show your appreciation often, reward them when they do an exceptional job, and own up to your mistakes. This will help free up your time to focus on doing quality billable work – and doing a lot of it. Plus, learning how to be an effective manager early on is good practice for when you become more senior and manage your own team of junior associates – a skill that your firm will evaluate when you’re up for partner.
While there is such a useful skill known as “managing up,” you want to be careful not to cross the line and be perceived as managing the more senior associates. For example, even if creating and/or updating the team’s agenda is your job, don’t be a taskmaster by hounding your team members about getting their tasks done and assigning new tasks to everyone but yourself. An alternative is to send the proposed agenda to the case managing partner in advance of the team meeting, and then allow that partner to run the task list.