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Mid level here. If first years aren’t doing a good job is it ok to tell the senior? To explain why something is taking longer than expected?

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Have you talked to the first year about it first? I try not to throw people under the bus. I guess it also depends on your relationship with the senior


Yes, you can. But keep in mind a few things: 1. People expect that junior work isn’t good. I think it should generally be unexpectedly bad or a pattern of issues before you raise it up the chain. 2. You should have raised the issues with the junior first. It’s unfair just to complain to the senior, without giving the junior any notice or opportunity to fix the issues. 3. As you get more senior, your job is to bring solutions to the table, not just problems. So you really should be ready to explain the steps and direction you gave to the junior, and what plan you have to get the senior the revised work in a timely manner despite the junior’s issues.


No. You should be learning to manage. Work with the first year and NEVER kick down.


If the issue is a junior doing bad work, discuss it with the senior. If the issue is an assignment is taking longer because of the junior, just tell the senior you’re working on it and need some more time. Blaming the junior isn’t a good look.


Do NOT throw a junior under the bus. You need to learn how to actually supervise and manage. Talk to the junior and figure out what’s going on. And in the future, set deadlines that allow for extra time whenever possible. Remember that juniors are often doing things for the first time, so of course it will take a little longer and/or not be as good as what a midlevel or senior could do.


There comes a point where part of leadership is making changes in the team. That is a last resort and you need to make sure you’ve done whatever you can to make sure the junior understands what is expected, has very clear direction, and you’ve done whatever you can to resolve any issues he or she might be having.


If you tell the senior, there’s a good chance the senior will be annoyed with you for not handling it. When I pass something to a midlevel to give a junior, I don’t want to hear about it again unless it’s “it’s done” or “it will be done on [date].”


Not sure how your firm works, but at our firm, the midlevels manage juniors and seniors manage partner and clients. I taught my juniors how to manage when I was a midlevel. Now that they’re midlevels, they do their jobs well and the scenario you described has never come up. Occasionally I get a junior associate who takes initiative by reaching out, and I give him some extra training. Regardless, I can’t imagine a non-collaborative associate like the one you’re describing doing well at my firm (or any firm). If they haven’t figured out that snitching on a junior to a senior is a stupid issue by the time they’re a fourth/fifth year, maybe they should find a different job.

It depends. Juniors need to get deadlines that allow time for them to need more time. So setting appropriate initial deadlines is more on the supervisor. Also, is there a reason it’s late? Maybe they got tied up and didn’t communicate well, or maybe they got turned around and wasted time. Those things can easily be fixed going forward with a quick chat. But if it’s a repeat issue or just like utter failure to make a reasonable attempt, I think it’s ok to approach it productively and say I’ve tried xyz to handle this issue. I think you should know so that you can manage the work allocation but also if you have other ideas on what I can do.

Sure don’t immediately throw the junior under the bus unless it’s egregious. But if they don’t improve you have to let the senior know you are having concerns and need to work out staffing issues by adding or changing things out. Not all problems are “manageable” by a mid level. Be reasonable and careful, and ensure that the associate has had a lot of opportunities to make changes first. On the other hand, always always pass on positive things about the junior upwards!

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