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More from an AmLaw 100 firm senior partner on best practices for AmLaw 100 firm associates. This post will cover the areas of “working on projects,” “research,” and “presenting conclusions.”

1. Working on projects

Q: Do you want to know the status of the assignment even if there is no news?  How frequent should the associate check in?

▸ Yes,  How often they should check in depends on the time-sensitivity and complexity of the assignment.  Generally the associate should ask me how often I want them to check in when I assign the project.

Q: In all cases would you rather the associate take the extra time to make the work product “perfect” or stick to the deadline (assuming perfect is not possible by the deadline)?

▸ Depends on what the assignment is.  If time-sensitive they should stick to the deadline but let me know what remains to be done.  If not time-sensitive I would prefer it to be perfect, however, they should talk to be about it once they realize they will not meet the deadline.

Q: What is your preference for handling follow-up questions (e-mail, phone, visit)?

▸ Visit or phone. 

Q: Would you prefer the associate err on the side of asking you more follow-up questions or just figure out unanswered details on their own?

▸ I’d much rather have more questions. 

 
2. Research

Q: In all situations, would you prefer the associate spend as much time as it takes to get the right answer?

▸ Depends on the assignment.  This is something the associate should ask about at the outset.

Q: Should the associate bill all of the time spent (including time spent learning the subject)?

▸ Yes.  I want to know how long the assignment really takes.  I expect that there will be some time written off that relates to getting up to speed, but I need to make that judgement.

Q: Should the associate ask you for suggestions on best place to start (search terms and resource materials) or figure out on their own?

▸ Ask me.

 
3. Presenting conclusions

Q: How should the associate present his conclusions?  Always written in a traditional memo format?  Executive one page summary followed by formal memo.  E-mail with answer if time sensitive?  Make an appointment to meet with you?   Does it depend on the assignment?

▸ Depends on the assignment.  This should be one of the questions the associate asks at the initial meeting.

Q: Should the associate allow enough time before the deadline to revise after presenting the initial conclusions?

▸ Yes, however, if the associate has been communicating the status on an ongoing basis this should not be an issue.

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