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Disputes

New firm advice

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Hi, I am a new call starting as a litigation associate at a mid-size firm in Toronto. Does anyone have any advice for me on what to do, coming in as a new lawyer at a new firm, to set myself up for success? I know this question is very general, it’s like that on purpose. Any advice welcome. 

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Do good work, be responsive, follow through on your commitments, make life easier for the senior associates/partners for whom you are doing work.

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Have a positive attitude, be open to feedback, don't take things personally, be kind to yourself

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Be nice to the new assistants - they'll be the ones who will show you the ropes!

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I am only a 1 year call but can offer the following based on what I have received negative feedback (explicit or implicit) for from senior lawyers. It reflects what others have said above, but with concrete examples:

1. "Before you come back to me with questions, please make sure you have exhausted all reasonable research resources at your disposal."

2. "Work won't walk in your door as a new associate, reach out to lawyers to introduce yourself and that you are interested in getting their work. So what if its on zoom, call them."

3. "When you send me a draft opinion to review, I don't want to correct your typos and drafting errors. Even if you used a precedent which had those errors, you need to catch all that before you send it to me."

I have more, but enough self-flagellation for the day lol

 

 

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43 minutes ago, BeetleGirl said:

1. "Before you come back to me with questions, please make sure you have exhausted all reasonable research resources at your disposal."

I find it hard to toe the line between this and lawyers who will say "come to me immediately with any questions, I'd rather you just ask than waste time researching it."

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6 minutes ago, chaboywb said:

I find it hard to toe the line between this and lawyers who will say "come to me immediately with any questions, I'd rather you just ask than waste time researching it."

I was just writing the same comment. Sure, it can be frustrating for busy lawyers to be asked questions that research or googling will give you a quick answer on. At the same time, however, you shouldn't spend three hours quietly billing research on a file when asking the question would give you an answer in under five minutes. I'll always err on the side of asking the question and risking a "couldn't you have looked this up?" To be quite honest, I don't recall ever taking shit for asking a question. 

Edited by FineCanadianFXs

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The only way you’re going to get faster at research is with practice. It sometimes takes me five minutes to do what used to be a whole day and a half. 

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Thanks everyone your posts are great.

My next question is how much different is it being a first year associate from an articling student? Yes I know they are different obviously. I just want some details on the contrast if possible please. 

Edited by Disputes

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16 hours ago, Disputes said:

Thanks everyone your posts are great.

My next question is how much different is it being a first year associate from an articling student? Yes I know they are different obviously. I just want some details on the contrast if possible please. 

This may vary by firm, but at my litigation firm, being a first year associate is substantively pretty similar to being an articling student. The main difference I recall is that during articling, I'd frequently be given discrete assignments and not be kept involved in the file long-term; as an associate, I'd always be brought onto files and work on them on an ongoing basis. The work was still mostly research, drafting motion material, maybe some basic motions, but you get more integrated in the file, and probably have more client contact. Gradually, you'll take on more responsibility for tasks, client communication, etc. By my third year or so, I realized I was almost never doing research anymore, instead spending my time on more substantive drafting, file/client management, and so on. The atmosphere is also different, because you're in a specific group rather than doing work for the firm on a broader scale, so you're working for fewer people and generally getting more integrated, particularly because you probably know them already from articling.

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