Above the Law

As a new lawyer, you will be expected to deliver assignments in a variety of ways. For example, you may be asked to do an oral presentation of the results of your assigned research, provide a “marked up” copy of a case or statute or contract for the assigning attorney, or create written work product. In all instances, be sure you are clear at the outset when you receive the assignment as to how you will be expected to deliver it. Listen carefully, take notes, and be sure to remit your work exactly as expected.

Where an assignment calls for written work product, think carefully about how you will deliver this work product. The ideal method of delivery is to hand a hard copy of the assignment to the assigning attorney in person and offer to follow up with an electronic copy of the assignment for his or her files.

However, if you are unable to connect with the assigning attorney in person, as is often the case, follow these 5 steps to ensure he or she receives the assignment in a manner that is both convenient and helpful:

1. First, send an electronic version of the work product with an email specifying exactly what is being transmitted (do not forget to attach the document!).

2. Indicate in the email that you will also leave a hard copy for the assigning attorney on his or her chair.

3. This next step is critical. Unless expressly told otherwise, you never want to leave an assignment on an attorney’s desk – the attorney will not look for it there and, assuming the desk has many other items on it, as most lawyers’ desks do, it will likely never be seen.

4. When you leave the assignment on the attorney’s chair, include a note specifying exactly what the assignment is and who is leaving it there. Provide your direct extension for the attorney’s convenience, as well.

5. If after a couple of days you have not heard back from the assigning attorney, choose a convenient time to quickly check in and be sure he or she received the assignment (emphasis on quickly – remember, most attorneys are busy and chances are he or she has not yet had a chance to review your work). Remind him or her that you enjoyed working on the project and that you are available for any follow up if and when it is needed.

Following each of these steps will ensure you are perceived as reliable, diligent, and eager to become involved more holistically in the cases, deals or projects you are working on.

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