Mid-level associates hit the ground running in 2014

Five thoughts to help hit the ground running in 2014

1. Prepare a rough chart estimating where you think your work will come from in 2014 with detail about projects/matters and number of billable hours in three columns:  

  1. Most likely projects/matters (e.g., projects which will continue from 2013, projects you have been told about);
  2. Potential projects/matters (based on 2013 and prior years, if relevant)
  3. Aspirational projects/matters (those items for which you have express interest in or would like to develop an expertise in).  

The value in this exercise is thinking ahead and having a general game plan with which you can proceed to step two.

2. Review your list with your practice coordinator (or whoever is the right person).  Are your estimates consistent with the Firm's/partners' plan?  If there are major discrepancies, do you understand why after discussing the list?  Are there too many entries on your list?  Not enough?  Are they appropriately categorized?  Should you look for more long-term projects to keep your plate full during slow times now?  Are your allocations of time reasonable?  Are there ways the Firm can help you work on projects on your aspirational list?

3. Plan to write a couple of articles on a topic in your practice area that you find interesting.  If you cannot think of anything, ask partners for suggestions.  Two thoughtful and well-done articles on the same topic in a short amount of time can help establish you as an expert in that topic.  After writing the articles, work with your firm marketing department to help spread the word about your articles.  Perhaps you can participate in a CLE program and discuss your topic soon after publication of your articles.

4. Plan to speak a couple of times.  Consider bar events, client industry conferences.  Ideally, you can speak on the same topic for which you wrote about in step 3 and continue to establish yourself as the go to person for the topic.  Again, work with the firm marketing personnel to help generate buzz about your speaking engagement (inside and outside the firm).

5. Look for leadership roles.

  1. Seek out an opportunity for responsibility within the firm (summer associate program, mentoring, organizing practice group lunch and speaking or bringing in speaker).
  2. Seek out an opportunity for responsibility outside the firm (coordinate a panel on an interesting topic (perhaps the one you wrote about in step 3), lead a committee, take an active role on an alumni matter for your law school).

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