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I’m starting at a new firm (midsized, 150+ attorneys). How can I build strong ties to the firm and connect with staff and fellow attorneys? I don’t feel like I did that at my last firm and that is part of what made it so easy to leave.

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Choose who you want to work with soon. Base it partially on being interested in their practice area and partially on their personality. If you won't have a designated "mentor" for random questions, ask who is a good option. For staff, buy them small thank you gifts - cookies delivered, a plant, something you know they like (my assistant loves anything lavender scented, for example). That will go a long way toward making you a friend of the staff and that will make your life much easier.

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This is really good advice. My only caveat would be that since it’s hard to know what a given practice area entails before you are actually doing it, you can end up in a crappy area without realizing it. My advice would be to focus primarily on personality. If they seem happy, enjoy the job, and care about/talk about spending time with family or friends or literally anything other than being a lawyer it likely means they are in a place you might want to end up. Besides, if it turns out you don’t like their specialty they likely won’t be a jerk about it if you tell them you want to try something else. The angry cave dweller types with red faces and short tempers are not someone you ever want to become no matter how cool their speciality sounds from the outside.

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