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What Associates Need To Do To Stand Out


“Excellent work is a given; the associates who really impress are the ones who understand that no matter how junior they may be, they are professionals representing real human beings with real problems. Whether the client is a harried in-house counsel trying to please her executive team or an individual desperately fighting for his freedom, every task should be done with a focus on solving the real problem that we were hired to solve. Even the most minor tasks — especially the minor tasks — only make sense when seen in light of the client’s real problems.” - Michael Celio, Keker & Van Nest

“Partners sleep better when they know an associate has taken 'ownership' of a matter. Associates should demonstrate that they are thinking strategically about the next steps in a transaction or litigation, and making meaningful progress. Those who only perform assigned tasks — even if he or she does a good job — will not stand out. What’s more, supervising attorneys will be most appreciative when an associate steps up for emergency or very difficult assignments. Associates should also have their fingers on the pulse of significant issues in the practice area, always thinking about business development opportunities and assisting with marketing efforts.” - Audrey Wisotsky, Pepper Hamilton LLP

“When I was a fifth-year associate, a senior partner encouraged me to not be afraid to speak up and offer my thoughts on case strategies and next steps. This was very helpful and empowering advice. I eventually learned that even if the partners didn’t agree with my suggestions, my thoughts were always appreciated and were often used as a springboard for our team to develop creative approaches to litigation strategies. Associates who regularly propose next steps not only demonstrate that they are on top of the upcoming issues, but also assist in efficiently moving cases toward resolution.” - Courtney B. Statfeld, McKool Smith

“Impeccable legal work is critical, of course, but there are other ways to stand out. At Latham, we have a committee structure that invites associate participation in many aspects of the firm’s business, from diversity and pro bono initiatives to ethics and recruiting, and even associate development and career advancement. Getting involved with initiatives like these, whether they exist formally or not, demonstrates business savvy and a commitment to the practice of law — and can add value in ways that are noticed by people in and outside of your firm.” - J. Scott Ballenger, Latham & Watkins LLP