{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "TLDR: junior associates just don’t get it. When I was a junior associate I couldn’t imagine telling a senior associate on the day an assignment was due that I had other more urgent deadlines and I couldn’t get to their assignment. Are you kidding me? When we’re you going to communicate this? Am I supposed to just pick up the slack here and do your work for you? Our client deadline hasn’t changed. Was it just going to magically get done? WTF", "post_id": "6116c5c5fc6734001d9134a1", "reply_count": 138, "vote_count": 55, "bowl_id": "5df70ed2f7169f002b172d3f", "bowl_name": "Big Law", "feed_type": "bowl" }
null

TLDR: junior associates just don’t get it. When I was a junior associate I couldn’t imagine telling a senior associate on the day an assignment was due that I had other more urgent deadlines and I couldn’t get to their assignment. Are you kidding me? When we’re you going to communicate this? Am I supposed to just pick up the slack here and do your work for you? Our client deadline hasn’t changed. Was it just going to magically get done? WTF

likefunny
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Op I am 100% with you, having had this situation happen multiple times. It’s super frustrating and just unfortunately comes with the territory of being more senior.

Here are some thoughts:

I give the juniors a couple opportunities to improve. When I am in a better place (ie the assignment is done), I will explain that deadlines we set are important and the expectations needed for certain assignments. I also give extremely clear and detailed instructions up front which helps mitigate some of this.

I will then mentally note that I need to protect myself more from some associates and may require a somewhat earlier deadline. If they haven’t made an effort to improve by the next few similar assignments, I will stop voluntarily using that associate from that type of work. Note, it doesn’t need to be perfect. But I need to see that you’re at least trying to follow the instructions and comments I am giving. If I have spoken to the associate, given clear instructions and clear feedback, and there’s zero effort to change, I am done. I’ll find someone else or might just do it myself (if I know I’ll have to redo it in the end anyway).

I will also let the partner know at that point so they have visibility into the issue. I will just frame it as a FYI, problem has been solved, but just so you know, we might need to discount some of this work on the bill. That gets the partner’s attention and they’ll figure out how to deal with it.

Importantly, I really value the juniors that do a good job. I do everything I can to let them know how I appreciate their work. I do everything I can to help get them better work (even if it means giving up some substantive work that would come to me). I also make sure they get the recognition both with partners and the client for how good they are. I also try to be extremely reasonable so good juniors want to work with me.

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I've faced this situation a number of times and now have made it a habit to check with the juniors way in advance a couple of times about what is the status of the work assigned, what other tasks they are involved in and to let me know immediately if they won't be able to meet the deadline so I can manage the work accordingly i.e. give it to someone else, do it myself, ask other seniors if it's possible to shift their other deadlines or request the client to extend the deadline. This is irrespective of whatever the reasons for not being able to meet the deadline are (overworked, not enough guidance, wants to do the work but is really caught up with something, had already taken leave on a particular day and told me in advance etc.) Sometimes, juniors do get overwhelmed and genuinely try to do everything and are misguided by the planning fallacy (that it will take them lesser time to finish tasks than it actually does) and end up in a situation like this where they inform their seniors at the last stage. They are also learning so it's best to teach them to inform you way in advance if they won't be able to meet the deadline. But if this happens again and again, then there is definitely some problem. There are also some juniors who don't care at all about the work or the client. That's not acceptable. I understand the frustration that comes with getting to know this last minute (having experienced it myself), hence in order to avoid that and for my sanity, I give an earlier deadline and get status update from the juniors at shorter intervals and emphasise the need to inform me if it won't be possible to deliver.

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In other replies, OP stated that they checked with the junior every day. The junior lsaid she was doing the work. The OP gave an earlier deadline than the client deadline - that's why they were working over the weekend.

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I just did this recently. Was swamped and totally forgot to do something for a senior and sent it to her a day late. Have you never made a mistake before!?

likesmartfunny

@A22, so lying to your supervisor every single day about doing something you hadn’t done wasn’t intentional? Btw- that argument you tried to foist is called a straw man. “…when you have neither, pound the table”

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No bad teams, only bad leaders. I’m not quite so ready to burn her at the stake.

likefunnyuplifting

Trial Lawyer 1: I agree that the junior blew it and was unprofessional/irresponsible. My comment is in response to your comment about millennials and zoomers having earned “participation trophies” as children explains a generational lack of accountability unless they received proper parenting. This is a ridiculous generalization. There are crappy irresponsible/professionals in every generation. If you can’t see that, then it is pointless to explain it to you.

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What year associate are you? I think you need to understand that a majority of the junior associates have a huge learning setback by the global pandemic. To mitigate this, I schedule 15 minute daily check-ins with my juniors. It allows me to consistently track progress on assignments and avoid a blown deadline.

likehelpful

A13 Because the junior lied and said she was doing the work.

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Side note: has this junior been massively overworked with little guidance during a pandemic and is he or she just barely hanging on by a thread because be or she is utterly exhausted?

Is junior at the end of her rope and getting told she's not "giving enough" to the firm when she's struggling at all hours with overstaffing and not really knowing how to do things?

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Lol because gymnasts have an *ethical duty* to risk breaking their necks when they can’t tell up from down? Nice try.

Also, Simone Biles DID let people know she had issues.

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Cut them some slack. They have imposter syndrome, are awaiting a market pay raise, and cannot understand why someone wants them on call every day to do work.

likefunnyhelpful

TL1, I understand your point. However, the same can be conveyed without resorting to very broad generalizations. That’s all. I’m tired of the generation argument that lead nowhere generation after generation.

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I’m a junior and I would never do that. I agree that this would be pretty bad.

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A1 - Finally a reasonable response to OP.

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This is why I always overcommunicate. It may annoy some people but I’ve never let someone down on a deadline.

likesmart

Yeah I’ve never had someone tell me I communicate too much…most people like being kept up to date, even if it is requesting an extension a few days in advance but ultimately not needing it because you overcommunicate with everyone…

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Overall yes, this isn’t great. But it took me a while to really understand what was urgent and what wasn’t, especially emails from partners. I would definitely have a conversation with the junior(s) before just writing them off as a lost cause.

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I had a first year associate do this to me repeatedly. Or I’d ask her to take notes on calls and she would quit halfway through without telling me because a partner emailed her asking her to do something else (non-urgently). I tried to give her advice so many times and she acted like she knew better than me. I stopped trying. Other associates had similar issues with her. Some people aren’t cut out for big law.

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This sounds like a general issue, not specific to big law issue lol

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OP is 100% in the right. I work with a lot of juniors and some are great and some are downright awful, entitled and unwilling to put in the work

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I’ve read these comments and I’m ve made up my mind whose side I’m on.

likefunny

I forgot to add that she has a personal engagement tonight and will have “limited” access to email

likefunny

You didn’t read the other comments. I gave her an internal deadline of today so I’d have the weekend to review before sending to the client. Now I’m starting from scratch

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The junior screwed up but I’ve also done this and it’s kinda odd to me that y’all get mad enough to post about it. Everyone takes this job way too seriously, no one is dying because you blew a client deadline, we push papers for corporations. My blood pressure and mental health is so much better just trying to do a good job and moving on when I don’t.

Most juniors don’t want to make partner and are not going to get fired in this market so I’d argue that the big brain move rn is to do mediocre work with minimal stress for as long as it takes to pay off your loans regardless on how angry OP gets.

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A32 lying juniors are most certainly the first to get laid off in downturns. And I’d be curious to find out how senior you are, because it doesn’t take more than a mediocre economy to get underperforming juniors the boot in some firms. Just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean those of us who have been around for a while don’t know the truth behind the exit stories of our former fellow associates. It doesn’t behoove most people to let the world know they’ve been fired, above the law doesn’t always know about it.

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Just do what the rest of us do — throw her off your team and get a new junior. I went through two before I found the one I have: first one went offline too often and the second could not lighten up and kept choking in front of clients. Current one gets the job done and has a sense of humor. I think it just takes time to find the right match.

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100% with OP on this.

Communication is key and if junior knew they wouldn’t have time to complete this then tell someone! And the audacity to blow a deadline and say you’re not going to be available Friday night to work on what you didn’t complete!? Wtf. I’m a 4th year and have never in my life pulled that kind of crap. I value my work and reputation more, and want people I work with to be able to depend on me. Sure I’ve had conflicts arise, it’s common sense to communicate those as early as possible so that the person depending on you can arrange for someone else to do it or set aside enough times for themselves to. I would think that this wouldn’t be a hard concept to grasp (or even something that needs to be taught) for educated people in client facing industries making 200k+ a year. As a junior, your “client” is the senior or partner assigning you the work. It’s your job to do it or speak up that you can’t for some reason.

I’m honestly shocked at the number of people defending and condoning this type of behavior.

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Sounds like a Cahill associate…

likefunny

You’re the senior. It’s your job. She’ll leave in a year or two so just move on. It’s your choice how much you are willing to sacrifice. Don’t whine about it.

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There are mixed signals from partnership—we care about your mental health, but we’re not going to do anything to lighten your load. Some jobs weren’t built for work/life balance.

I’m so done with being the understanding person who tries to respect everyone’s time, and seeing none of it back. I’d probably ask request another junior and tell the partner it seems like this one is too busy.

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Juniors or this single junior in this one instance…?

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