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Let’s flip the script. Associates, tell us boomers what we can do to be a good boss. Or better yet the best boss.

likeupliftingsmarthelpful
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As a more senior associate who has gotten good feedback on my work product in my career, I’d say this: 1. Respect time off. If possible, weekends and evenings (cases don’t always allow it), but always vacations and - dear lord - parental leave. 2. If you’re editing work and it’s more substantive, explain why. If it’s not substantive, maybe don’t make the edit. Let the associate have some pride of ownership in their work product even if it isn’t your style. 3. Give some opportunities up to the associate. Let them argue a motion. I’ve been on many panels where judges say their minds are made up before they even go walk in for an argument. If you’re really nervous about it - moot the associate in advance. 4. Allow the associate to have client contact. It makes such a difference to case ownership when you know who you are working for and when you don’t feel like a small piece down the chain. 5. Share credit in successes. When the associate was the one who took the laboring oar, make sure they’re front and center in any internal or external marketing about the success. Nothing is more demeaning than working one’s ass off for months (or years), being thrilled to see your work result in the client’s vindication, and then see the partner take center stage while your name is dropped from the convo. 6. I’ve seen firms where partners only socialize amongst each other and don’t really take time to get to know or hang out w associates. Maybe it’s because of concern over turnover - why bother if they’re just going to leave anyway. But hopefully they’re your future partners. And definitely they are people in your firm. Hang out. Have team outings. Organize departments drinks once a month or once a quarter. Add a human element to the work place. 7. As others have said, remember you aren’t the only partner with the only cases an associate is working on. Check their schedule before setting a call or meeting, and check in with them as much as possible before setting deadlines. Surprisingly, sometimes setting an *earlier* deadline for a draft could work better for your shared schedules. For example, if the associate is managing a summary judgment filing at the same time, they may want to get your smaller assignment to you days before the filing deadline so they can just focus on the bigger thing while you’re reviewing and editing the smaller thing. I think most of this comes down to mutual respect, and realizing that associates are also adults who are working hard for the client.

likesmart

You sound like a great leader mate. As a junior, I would love to work for someone with this outlook.

Honestly, this thread is amazing to me. Granted I’m a junior partner so I was very recently in the same boat as the associates and counsel commenting here. But the perception that seems rampant here is that partners are off golfing half the afternoon and yachting the other half and, at least where I am (DC V30) it’s just so far removed from reality. First of all, when the firm underperformed expectations this year, I brought home 5% less than I expected and I got no bonus — but all of the associates still got theirs. (And lest you say 5% is not a big deal when you’re making millions, let me disabuse you of that notion. A few partners are making millions. The rest of us are getting paid about the same as a senior associate.) I also don’t get paid the bulk of my income until the following January, so I spend the year being stressed about collections. Second, I work as hard or harder than the associates who work with me. It’s a Friday night, we have a client deliverable Friday night, and we’re still waiting on comments from the in-house counsel Friday night...who is at their computer waiting up? Me, that’s who. Because I am the last line of defense before that work-product goes out. And I know as great as my associate is, I have to be able to defend every last piece of that WP to the client. So I have to review it and sign off on it. And when i bring in a new deal, and it’s staffed to a counsel, and then that counsel says he’s got influenza so he’s not going to be available for the next two weeks (true story) guess who covers that deal? Me. Because now it looks like we don’t have our act together if i rotate in someone new to “lead” the project. Even though i was already billing over 100% capacity. And on top of my billable work, I’m off pounding the pavement trying to generate more business. So I spend a week away from my family so I can convince a client they should keep hiring us, which by the way is all non-billable, and then I get to stay up all hours of the night so I can do my billable work on top of that. So. I fully support the causes raised on here. Partners absolutely should be humane. Firms should recognize the challenges that associates face in finding jobs, managing loans, getting onto the housing ladder, etc. I agree that 360 reviews are more than appropriate. I believe in instant feedback to associates, good and constructive. But I also think associates should understand that becoming partner, and being a partner, is not some magical license to do whatever you want whenever you want on the backs of your poor sniveling associates. Being a partner means a whole new set of challenges and personal responsibilities for bringing work in and monitoring what goes out. It means covering for every last person in the chain. I’m not at all saying it’s not worth it — I love my job — but it is not golfing and yachting or second houses, not by any stretch.

likesmart
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1. Keep us ‘in the loop’: copy us into emails and make attendance notes of client meetings or calls; 2. Be organised. Know when the deadlines are and make amendments with sufficient time for us to implement them. 3. Give feedback. Tell us if directly if we are under-performing or annoy you instead of asking HR to do so in our yearly review. This is especially important for new associates and it’s difficult to judge the quality of our work at the beginning. 4. Remember how little you knew at our age and the benefits of experience. Please don’t presume that we know too much. 5. When it comes to instructions: more detail is always better. 6. We are human too. We need rest, food, and occasional encouragement from our superiors.

likesmarthelpfuluplifting

#2 is the partner’s job if they aren’t doing #1. If interrogatories are due in 45 days, please assign them when received, not after 35 days have gone by and you lost track of time.

likehelpful

401k matching. I will die on this hill.

likefunny

I love this.

like

Honestly. Just treating us like humans and being kind will go a LONG way. Try to remember when you were an associate: how would you like to have been treated?

likeuplifting

Just don’t be mean with your words, no yelling or screaming or personal comment/attacks about character or competence. I had a partner who was having a bad day but she was training me (I’m a new attorney, 2017 grad, at my first law job) so I submit all my work to her and she reviews it with me. She is particular with her writing style, I get it. But she commented “I don’t know how you graduated law school”, “are you a bird” and others... I’m always on egg shells as idk what kind of day she’s having. Honestly, just don’t be mean.

likehelpful

Attorney 2 I can’t stop thinking about this. What does it mean?

Mentorship. I don’t mean institute some firm wide policy and assign mentors to associates; that shit doesn’t work. I mean develop good relationships with folks organically and take them under your wing. Take them to lunch. Have drinks together. Just sit in your office 1x per week for 20 minutes at random to “chat.” I’d go to war for that boss.

likeuplifting

Couldn’t agree more. Favorite partner to work for is the one who always has an open door. When I drop by (maybe once every other week) we frequently end up chatting for 20-30 minutes on wide ranging topics including career development stuff. I care about producing good work product for her and I know she has my back to give me new opportunities.

like

A lot of it is to do with what A1 said, treating people with kindness. The best boss I have ever had when I did 6 months in house. She was a phenomenal lawyer yet was also the nicest person ever. She had a habit of pranking the team and would always say yes to team drinks. When it came to work she was leagues ahead of everyone, but no matter how small your issue she’d always help and back you 100%, even though she was horrendously slammed. But one of the best things she did was stick up for us and have our backs. When the business were pushing us to breaking point she was like a lioness protecting her cubs and blew up at them for us. Even though I no longer work there I’m still Facebook friends with her and she asks how I’m getting on. It’s her kindness that makes her the best, as she fostered an amazing culture and working environment, even as everyone around us was stressed and low morale. Technically skilled lawyers are ten a penny, lawyers like her are one in a million.

likeupliftinghelpful

Allow us to see our families and friends.

likeuplifting

Don’t nickel and dime us.

like

Thanks, I could use all the luck that’s available. Hopefully I’ll have my own cheeky associates to nickel and dime one day. 😂

funny

Email a task before you drop by so I can process it in advance. Don’t treat us like we are all lazy. Give feedback on projects so we know how we are doing.

like

Treat us like adults, don’t just pop in and start talking about a case without any warning, especially if you don’t mention the case within the first couple of words, and learn how to use your computer and phone.

likeuplifting

You do know that this is what external clients do, right? Practice the skill of dealing with this and you’ll be better for it long term.

likesmart

I think a lot of us millennials have really great ideas for integrating technology in the workplace and for use in trials, as well as streamlining processes in the office. We are also really great at thinking outside of the box. Instead of being brushed off or told “this is how we have always done it” maybe listen and try to see the merit? Everything changes so rapidly and at such a fast pace. Millennials are actually quite the asset if you just give our ideas a chance.

likesmart

Non-linear thinking is a tremendously valuable asset. I love it, encourage it and ask you to bring it to all discussions

likehelpful

Since everyone else is being so esoteric, I’ll say it. Literally, just pay more money (for anyone not on the Cravath scale or equivalent). It would solve 98% of every complaint on this thread. Imagine handling all the same pressures you handled as an associate, with the crushing weight of $200k+ in student loans on top. I’ve yet to meet a Boomer who has watched 10/15/25%+ of their after tax income go straight into loans they needed to get the paycheck in the first place or understands what paying more to student loans than they did to a mortgage feels like. Good performing associates don’t lose firms money, even babies. 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 is no longer an easy heuristic for pay. Most firms take the bad of big law pay (lock step pay, nondiscretionary bonuses for high performers), and just give it to associates at a far lower rate.

likesmarthelpful

TL you legend, what a response!

like

Remember that there are more similarities between the generations. We are more alike than we are different, and we likely want the same things you’d want if you were in our situation. I’ve had bosses who harp on my millennial status without even knowing me. A lot of the stereotypes ascribed to millennials are classist and only apply to a small subset. Most attorneys want to do a good job or they wouldn’t be there. - $$Money$$: There are bills to be paid and life to be lived. I don’t come here for free. Is there anyone that would come to do the work we do if they weren’t getting paid?? Respect that this is a business transaction and keep abreast of the market, because I will leave if there are better options. Don’t be shocked. I’ve had bosses that try to tell me that this is a great place to work and not pay me my worth. These same bosses told me my work product was stellar but didn’t want to discuss pay disparities with others on the team. -Good Work/Career Development: the two biggest things I’m wanting from work are 1) money and 2) good things to work on/career advancement, sense of purpose etc. This is part of the value proposition. Most people leave because one or both of those needs are not being met. I’m not saying I need to have the most glamorous assignments or anything but I do want a chance to learn. Give us a seat at the table. Bring us along. Let us be in the room. A lot can be learned by watching. I’ve been in workplaces where there were a lot of big ticket things happening but it was all behind closed doors. Other senior attorneys would be on the assignment, giving us exposure would be great. This all goes into teaching and mentoring. Bosses should really push other senior attorneys to include younger ones and to help develop everyone. If they don’t, your institutional memory is going out the window. -Don’t be resistant to change. You can not rely on “this is the way it’s always been done.” I’ll echo a lot of the sentiment about technology needing to be integrated in more ways. -Remember the golden rule. Treat others as you would want to be treated. We are all human. Would you want your boss to yell at you? It’s pretty simple.

like

This is great and sort of exactly similar to what I would say in response to OP

Honestly just be approachable and don’t make us feel dumb for not knowing things.

likeuplifting

None of us knew anything when we started, because law schools never have and probably never will teach much.

like

Take ownership of associate development. If there is an associate you see potential in, take it upon yourself to develop that associate. Check in with them. Are they developing the complete set of skills needed in your practice group? Are they kept adequately engaged? I think it’s too easy in a law firm for associates to slip between the cracks because no one partner think it’s his/her job to develop a particular associate. And development is not a waste of time even if the associate will not become partner at your firm and go on to make you money. They may become a client or otherwise introduce you to clients. Plus associates who are nurtured are the ones who are most likely to go to have fruitful legal careers that could indirectly benefit you.

likesmart

Please don’t just call or drop by with a very complicated task that you explain in two minutes. It drives me up the wall. An email explicitly outlining exactly what you want, step by step, saves everyone hours of headaches :)

like

Been there! Amen. Partners do forget what they didn’t know as greenhorns

Please, please, don’t send a message in ALL CAPS in the middle of the night.

like

Relatedly, do not call me at 5:30 am because I forgot to CC you on a routine email that was, in fact, sent out because I am at least that competent. I guess that goes to trusting our work?

like

Treat us with respect, offer proper guidance when we ask for it and remember that we are still learning. I know that’s tough because most partners are so busy, but taking 10-15 minutes to explain an aspect of the law we don’t understand well enough (or at all) will allow us to efficiently complete the task you’ve asked for and become better lawyers along the way...(4th year associate)

like

Stop using how you were treated by partners as a benchmark for success. Track the time every partner, counsel, and associate over the 6th year spends on associate development. Push people to pass on knowledge and prove they are succession planning. Invest in data and digital skills for yourself and your associates. This is an imperative. Do not let fear of a thing you do not understand hold you back. White collar jobs will eventually automated just like blue collar jobs. The firm that has the most insiders working on getting it right will win. Others will flail and lose. Notice how the tech companies are even admitting they have to upskill. You’re not gonna find a unicorn digital whiz to work for you either. Outsourcing doesn’t work. The insiders working for your clients are the only people who can precisely identify opportunities to insert automation in real time, everyday. Outsiders will never know the business well enough. Start a Center of Excellence in the firm. We need to prepare to fight back as the tech companies try to creep into our lane. (During the last decade, we failed to speak out because we were not book sellers, diaper sellers, retailers, or couriers. There will be no one to save us from our failure to invest in digital skills we need to meet client needs related to fees and speed.) There are a lot of tasks your associates could quickly automate if you upskilled them a bit and actually let them work on ways to integrate technology into the practice of law. It’s not type of stuff you outsource. It’s smaller but high impact projects that will make work faster and better. Use your experience to help them refine the projects, and to help them find opportunities to scale it throughout the firm.

likeuplifting

“The law is reason, free from passion.” Of course technology could replace both lawyers and judges one day.

like

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