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LegalJob receives lots of questions regarding putting in face time at work.  One recent question and LegalJob’s response are provided below.

 

Q:  I have a question regarding how important face time is at the big firm.  I am an early person and generally get to work about 7 or 7:30 but I like to leave around 5:30 or 6, especially if there is nothing going on.  I didn’t think anything was wrong with that but I receive annoying comments and surprised looks from some of the other junior associates when I leave “early.”  It is annoying because I am there at least one to two hours earlier than all of them and the partners.

 

Answer:  Face time can be important at the big firm but you should be able to manage people’s expectations in this regard (and, at the same time, satisfy most if not all of your preferences).  Some thoughts:

  1. Communicate your preference regarding your schedule with the partners with whom you work (and anyone else suggested by these partners, i.e., senior associates, other firm management if necessary, etc.) so everyone understands and has the opportunity to buy in.  Tone is important here and you want to be careful not to appear to be overstepping.  Communicating your preferences is not dictating how it is going to be but it is not exactly asking either.  You can be soft about it in that you want to make sure the partner is comfortable with this schedule but that is a little different then asking his or her permission; 
  2. Decide what your policy is going to be regarding e-mails and calls “after hours” and communicate that preference as well.  LegalJob recommends that you try to be accessible, at least by e-mail so that you appear flexible and do not lose out on working on good projects for that reason; 
  3. Make yourself available after your usual time if there is an important firm or client event.  Perhaps plan ahead and come in later that day.  It is important to participate in firm activities, to the extent possible.  Also, it is always good to have the chance to connect directly with a firm client (even if you are not doing most or any of the talking); and 
  4. Consider letting the partners know that you can be available other times as well and (not “but”) that you prefer advance notice to the extent possible.
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