President, Legal Writing Pro, Professorial Lecturer, GW Law School
Ross Guberman is the president of Legal Writing Pro LLC, a training and consulting firm. He has conducted more than a thousand programs on three continents for many of the largest and most prestigious law firms, for federal judges, and for dozens of agencies and bar associations. He holds degrees from Yale and University of Chicago Law School.
As a writing trainer for dozens of the nation’s top law firms, I’ve learned first-hand where summer associates go wrong and how to help them succeed.
Here are ten tips:
1. Take a deep breath.
Despite the vagaries of the legal market, the basics haven’t changed: The partners want you to succeed. You wouldn’t have been hired unless you had the legal skills to handle your projects this summer. And unlike the economy, the way you write is entirely within your control.
2. Where am I going?
In this BlackBerry age, supervisors often forget to relay key information. Avoid such misconnects by getting answers to these five questions before you start: (1) What format do you want? (2) How long should the final document be? (3) How much time should I spend? (4) Can you point me to a document I can use as a model? and (5) What will you do with my project after I submit it?
3. Cover your . . . bases
Each time you get an assignment, send your supervisor an e-mail summing up your understanding of the project. Attorneys are text people, so seeing your write-up might help your supervisor steer you onto the right track before it’s too late.
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, from Ross Guberman, a look at lawyers’ ethical breaches and their consequences.
Quick: List all the ways you can get into ethical hot water while writing a brief, and then list all the things judges can do to you in return.
Sometimes lawyers go too far, but do judges ever overreact?
In your short and fascinating book, we meet all sorts of wayward attorneys who are in some way punished by courts for something they’ve done in a brief. One attorney called the members of an administrative board “monkeys” and compared their pronouncements to the “grunts and groans of an ape.” Another attorney neglected to mention an unfavorable case even though he himself was counsel in that case. Yet another referred to opposing counsel as “Nazis and redneck pepper-woods.” And various other attorneys drafted a proposed order with a first sentence that’s nearly four pages long, filed a complaint that the court called a “hideous sprawling mess,” cited a dissent as controlling authority, or copied another lawyer’s brief.
When you compare all these alleged ethical breaches with the penalties they provoked, what are a few of the behaviors that seem to irk judges most?
Above the Law has launched a brand new eDiscovery Resource Center in partnership with Recommind. Stay on top of the ever-changing eDiscovery and predictive coding landscape with our practical tips, insightful white papers, and webinars.
The past few months have been a blur as I have traveled the country visiting law firms. With summer winding down (as well as ILTA14 now in the rearview mirror), it seemed like a good time to see what lessons could be distilled from firms that are having real success in discovery practice.
1. Focus on finding what matters
Despite all of the articles lamenting the rapid growth in data volumes, litigation is still won and lost with a handful of witnesses and a few dozen documents. Regarding this issue, the head of litigation for an AmLaw 50 firm shared with me that for him litigation was still about the binder of documents he was glad he had found and the binder of documents he wished he hadn’t found. Discovery solutions, he explained, that didn’t address those needs were missing the mark. Given the strength of this lesson, I incorporated it into my discussions with other lawyers over the past few months and found that it resonated with litigators, especially those who practice outside of the eDiscovery bubble (in other words 99% of the litigators I interact with on a routine basis).
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for Asia focused projects and client meetings for the next 4 weeks, through December 15. Feel free to reach out to him at Evan@Kinneyrecruiting.com if you would like to schedule a meeting, to discuss the market and your career. Starting in January, Evan will be mostly splitting time between New York and Hong Kong.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
The “New Normal” is no longer new. On Thursday, November 20th, from 6 to 9 p.m., join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer, and Joe Borstein of Pangea3 for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model.
Please sign up below to RSVP. We look forward to seeing you there.