How much is normal for an associate be “helping out” other practice groups?

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Depends. It’s pretty common at my firm for general lit to help the LE and White collar groups when they need help. About 30% of my workload comes from this.
On the other hand, it’s unheard of for lit associates to help transactional groups at my firm.

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This. And it's especially true if you work in a smaller office. I was hired to do both commercial lit and employment because my office is small. I've also helped out the IP litigation team when needed.

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Might be a good opportunity to get experienced in different practice areas

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It does happen, usually within broad categories, like an antitrust lit associate will help out with another lit niche, but I've also seen it across corp/lit, especially with junior associates.

I would focus less on whether it is normal and more on if it is working for you. Are you getting the experience you want? Or are you getting pulled onto cases that don't advance your professional goals?

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I only offer if the workload slows down so that I can meet billable/bonus

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I’m in lit and in my first year I got at least 25% of my caseload from our MedMal and Atty malpractice groups even though I was not in them. But was because they needed people, so when we got new associates for those practices I got rid of the cases lol

Really depends on the firm. More mid-size firms often have associates run the gamut. In large part, this is done to allow newer associates to experience different practice areas. That way they ideally avoid associates finding out two to three years in that they hate their designated practice areas. Doesn’t always work. But it’s the operating theory.

I'm gen lit and I've helped with appeals from all our practice groups, which has been a fantastic experience.

Also super practice group dependent. I'm in the patent group but get about 30% of my work from general corporate, emerging companies, and IP lit. However, I'm still mostly doing work related to tech/IP/patents in those cases, so maybe a little less "helping out" other practice groups and more just part of the expected workflow.

When I was in private practice (Chapter 11 bankruptcy work) litigation associates and partners helped us out a lot. Not vice versa, though. But I often helped out the corporate team with secured transactions and stuff like that. This was at a very large NYC law firm.

I’m in M&A and constantly get pulled to cover other practice groups when they’re short staffed. I’ve covered real estate, employment, construction, IP… never occurs to them that m&a might be short staffed as well!

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