By Brian Malcom
1. Be punctual.
The importance of punctuality is obvious but often overlooked. If you want to start out a clerkship on the wrong foot, show up late your first day. Timeliness every other day is just as critical. The firm needs to know they can count on you. Tardiness indicates that you are not reliable, not organized, not capable of time management, uncaring, or all of the above. If you must be late, call ahead.
2. Be concise, but comprehensive.
If you can master this skill, you can master anything. Young lawyers often use too many words to tell too little. Some good advice: master the short sentence. Some better advice: dig down until you’re digging up. What do I mean? Your research should be comprehensive. Treatises and secondary sources are great tools to ensure you are covering the entire scope of an issue. Use them. Keyword searches are great, but they are only one piece of the good research puzzle. Once you start seeing the same cases and discussion again and again, this is a good sign you have covered the entire scope of an issue. Then, organize your research and analysis in a thoughtful, clear, and concise written product that is useful to the assigning attorney.
3. Be yourself.
The firm wants to know who they are hiring. You want the firm to know who they’re hiring. Letting the firm assess who you really are while you assess the firm is a recipe for a happy future marriage. You don’t want them hiding the ball from you, so don’t hide the ball from them either.
4. Be helpful.
Sounds easy, right? It may be, but it’s also essential. Show the firm you can contribute. When appropriate, be a team player. When necessary, get the job done yourself. Be helpful and contribute to each project, case and meeting and you will be a hard candidate to resist. Most importantly, do no harm.
5. Think about the case, not just the project.
Being task-oriented is great. Seeing the forest for the trees is better. Too often young lawyers focus only on the project in front of them. Demonstrate that you can think about the big picture of the case or the goals of the client and you will be a step ahead of your peers.
More to come tomorrow . . .