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First week on the job! I was placed in a transactional group and am quickly realizing how underprepared law school left me.

Any resources or topics you recommend? I’ve started watching CLE programs on contract boilerplate, ambiguities, etc. and that is helping.

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Acknowledging you don’t know anything is the first step! You’re off to a great start. Nothing but eye rolls for first years constantly telling me how this is just like their clinic or internship or whatever (but I do appreciate their eager drive anyway). Don’t worry too much, you’ll pick it up naturally, and you’re going to absorb formal trainings (like CLE) much better when you have a little experience for context. Your practice group may also have some practice group specific training videos, you could ask around for those.

Mainly I’d say read every word of every document even if you’re not told to, ask for time estimates for everything and expect to spend 2x/3x as long, be hungry, be present, ask to be part of calls/emails etc on deals even when you’re not directly involved. And then if you hear of a task that needs handling based on those calls/emails that you could help on, put your hand up and volunteer.

No one expects you to have substantive knowledge as a first year. But you can be a value add by being really thoughtful on your assignments (minimal allowance for typos and careless/silly mistakes, think about what the client really wants to accomplish, “form” documents need to be modified from time to time), be proactive, volunteer, take ownership, follow up, don’t be shy about “managing up”.

Watch the midlevel or senior associate and figure out what it is they do and what it is you can take over for them and proactively volunteer to do so. Idea is you take over their job as much as possible so they have more time to take over the partners job as much as possible and the partner has more time to chase business.

And of course always be respectful and careful about how you’re phrasing things when you’re doing the above.

Us seniors are jaded and cynical and we can use your bright eyes and bushy tails. ;)

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No one expects you to know it already! If your firm has a subscription to Practical Law Company, they have helpful articles and annotated templates that can be really useful to learn basics about drafting.

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Hotshot or plc. If you have PLI, watch those on weekends. Ask questions to mids and seniors. It's a lot to learn.

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Great summary, Dir/Counsel 1. OP, I want to emphasize that CLEs will make more sense in 3-6 months than they do now. No matter how “basic” they claim, they assume some knowledge in the area. And right now you have no knowledge. So wait a few months before diving into CLE. Also, probably more useful in a few months, sitting in on calls with OC and clients will not only increase your substantive knowledge of issues but also teach you how to talk to OC and clients - so critical. As the partner, I am not going to let you talk to OC or clients until I am sure you have the right tone and manner.

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My practice area is nothing like anything I learned in law school. We all learned by observing others and asking questions and reading the documents and trying to imitate them. Not sure a CLE will help anything in the first few months because you usually need a lot of context to understand them. The great thing as a first year is that everyone expects you to be clueless so there is no harm in just being honest about it. In fact, there is a subtle side effect of this kind of honesty. No one knows if you have integrity yet, so you can at least establish yourself as eager, humble, and honest because if you pretend to already know stuff people will just peg you as clueless and a liar, which isn’t something experience will cure. Embrace the ignorance! We were all there and had the same hill to climb! Part of your education is their responsibility, so just soak up what everyone around you is doing!

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Depending on the size of your firm, you may have resources available internally for first years. We have a database where partners recorded videos walking you through the basics (actual basics, not typical CLE basics). I found these to be much more helpful than the PLI “basic” videos that made me feel like my head was going to explode in my first month.
Also, actually read the documents in the transactions that you’re working on. This sound obvious, but there will come a time when you’re buried and just need to incorporate a few edits to turn the draft. This will help you see the big picture.
Finally, trust that you will learn a lot as you go! I’m finishing my first year now, and it’s incredible to look back at how much I’ve learned. However, I know I still have a long way to go.

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