Teaching associate attorneys not to pet the puppy

15611728_SIf you have a law firm with associates, you likely have some young attorneys.  If you have some young attorneys working for you, you have impressionable employees who are trying to get their career footing.

Impressionable employees can be led in all sorts of different directions.  They are still wide-eyed.  They may still believe that being an attorney is a quick path to making lots of money and an easy life.  They might look up to their law firm superiors on some level.  But they might also glamorize other courthouse attorneys, judges, law school personnel, etc.  This can cause great conflict on the part of a young attorney in terms of who to trust and not trust.

While respect and professional courtesy for more experienced attorneys and judges is an absolute must at all times, it’s hard for many young attorneys to know who is actually leading them in the right direction.  It’s vital that associate attorneys try to learn the difference.

Associate attorneys have to know when they need to hold the line on cases versus being swayed by another attorney just because they have been around longer. While some career advice from an older attorney might be helpful, associate attorneys need to know who is truly trying to help them and who is more worried about their own law firm or career prospering. In some instances, the older attorney might just be trying to get the better of the younger attorney on a particular case through good cop techniques.

Associate attorneys also shouldn’t assume that because another attorney has been practicing longer, that their career advice is beneficial or correct.  They shouldn’t even assume the motives for the career advice (or even case specific advice) are necessarily noble.

At the end of the day, associate attorneys should be taught to get legal and professional advice from their internal firm superiors (or other trusted mentors) versus figuratively following a stranger into an alley to pet the puppy.  Yes, it’s important to be courteous, dignified, professional and respectful.  At the same time, associate attorneys must be taught to be shrewd about who they take advice from and who they should not.

As children, we’re all taught not take candy from strangers.  In this vein, associate attorneys have to adopt this mindset when deciding whose career and case advice to take.

If you have any comments, feel free to share them below.

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