First Week of Work: Make the first day count

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The First Week of Work: Make the first day count

First impressions are forever. Whether this is your first-ever professional job or one more step on your career path, make the first day count.

Meeting people:  Strong handshakes and good eye contact are key. Do your best to begin to remember names and functions. Ask for an organization chart and make notes. You will be both efficient and effective when you understand how work gets done (who works for whom? who is in which department? who is responsible for what function?)

Getting started: Do not gripe at the amount of paperwork that you must complete. Commit to replying to all administrators’ requests double-super-promptly. If administrators like you, they can save your reputation and your job.

Your office space: How do others personalize their spaces? With tiny tasteful photographs of their loved ones or 5-foot-velvet-Elvis paintings? Until you have a permanent job, find a comfort level that meshes with the office norm.

First Week: New Assignments

First Rule: Take notes

Always take notes when you are given an assignment. Assigning attorneys do not know that you have an eidetic memory and can remember every word that’s spoken to you. It makes people nervous to give complicated instructions to someone who doesn’t take notes, and your work will be suspect. People will consider you unreliable before seeing your work, and doubts may linger.

Questions to ask when you get an assignment.

  • Do you have a source for the best place to begin my research?
  • Have you handled matters similar to this one? (If “yes,” ask for the name of the file.)
  • How many hours do you think that this should take?
  • When do you need this on your desk or in ¬†your email?
  • Do you want to see me before I have finished the project?
  • How should I format the results? (letter to the assigning attorney, memo to a client, etc.)
  • Are there research restrictions such as time on Lexis or Westlaw?
  • What style would you prefer? (persuasive, strictly factual, brief-like, memo-like?)
  • Will you want a paper or an electronic copy of the final document?

Follow a very important direction

When the assigning attorney says “Bill and Jane did work similar to this. Talk to them about the project,” do not scurry back to your desk and send an email asking for everything that they know about Project X.

Your boss means for you to walk down the hall, knock on doors, and have face-to-face contact or a phone call if the lawyers are out of town. Following this instruction benefits you because your Boomer or X-er boss doesn’t want to hear from colleagues that they were email-bombed by an unknown law clerk, and because she has handed you a golden opportunity to get to know more people in the office. Play your cards right, enhance your reputation, and do good work.

Be a pal. Share this advice with everyone in your Torts section.

About susangainen

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2 Responses to First Week of Work: Make the first day count

  1. Gryfer says:

    It’s amazing how people can differ. All I would say is be wary of asking certain questions that were given. For instance, asking “How many hours do you think this should take?” can potentially sound like, “I have other stuff to do. This won’t take long, will it?” even though you meant it as, “I don’t want to overwork this problem if it’s something simple. Is there a guideline or estimate I should stick to in terms of time spent on this project?” Some attorneys might also feel that the proper answer should be obvious: “As much time as it takes you to finish.”

    Alternatively, something as simple as, “Is there a projected timeline for this project I should be aware of?” or a similar question can come across better to all personality types.

    Ultimately, use your own intuition as to what the personality is of the attorneys you’re working with, but it’s always better to be overly professional and to be overly casual.

  2. Daniel cohen says:

    Thanks very much for your large information .And knowledge full description . I think it is Sus a topic that many kinds of people face many problems. thanks for this.
    meeting people,

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