What working on Capitol Hill can teach associates about effective law practice

LegalJob has worked with some of the most effective legal staffers on Capitol Hill and has taken note of some common traits they possess and habits they practice.  Perhaps not so surprisingly, these same traits and habits are possessed and practiced by the most successful law firm associates.

Namely, these staffers:

  • Are able to channel their bosses (Members of Congress) and, as such, they deeply understand what their bosses want;
  • Are tuned in to the "client" needs and wants (both external in the form of constituents and internal in the form of party and colleague pressures) and, as such, more fully understand what their bosses need;
  • Have a strong sense of how their bosses prefer to receive voluminous information; and
  • Are adept at communicating with their bosses to satisfy preferences and help ensure the most important information is received.

These skills and habits mirror those of successful associates.  The most effective associates:

  • Understand what the partner wants to know;
  • Understand what the partner needs to know to satisfy his or her client or other responsibilities.  Note that wants and needs are often different items;
  • Understand how the partner prefers that the information be translated; and
  • Are able to communicate to partners (and clients) the information they need and want in the form and manner that they desire.

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