As discussed in Making Partner, three keys to success in any legal job are to seek specific feedback on a regular basis, take immediate action to improve in the areas identified, and follow up with details of your progress.  The first step is discussed below and the second two steps will be discussed in the next post.

Seek specific feedback regularly

► Request at least one or two meetings in between scheduled reviews with the partners with whom you are working.

► Solicit opinions about how you are doing and what areas could use improvement.

► Prepare ahead by sending the partner specific questions you have.

► It may be helpful to take questions directly off an evaluation form the firm uses to measure attorney progress.

● Using questions off the form may also encourage a partner who is less comfortable providing feedback to do so.

▸ This practice may help prevent you from being blindsided by an unexpected, harsh evaluation come review time

● Using questions off the form may also help to more precisely define the issue so you know what you have to work on.

▸ Many times associates are hesitant to ask clarification questions even if they do not understand the specific area that needs to be worked on.

► Possible questions to assess your work after a project.

● Did you convey information persuasively in a clear, concise, and logical manner?

● Did you demonstrate strong analytical and reasoning skills in evaluating the substantive issue?

● What were the merits of the conclusions you reached?

● Was your writing rigorous, organized, and concise?

● Did you take a reasonable amount of time to finish the project?

► Be open to all comments, and try not to take anything personally.

● You want to be known as someone who is interested in growth and development and not defensive when opportunity areas are identified

● There is probably some truth to the comment/critique even if you disagree or don’t quite see it

► Ask for specific suggestions about how to improve in a particular issue area identified.  More on what to do with these suggestions in the next post.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.