June 23, 2007
It's 6:00 PM. Do you know what your summer associate is thinking?
Summer at law firms, Congressional offices, businesses and government agencies are fun for both the new clerks and interns and the more senior people who hire them--but the season is also useful for evaluating talent. And for developing talent and great habits. So once, again, and from a March 2007 post:
WAC? can't think of a better question to ask any associate or junior lawyer in the course of serving a client: "What are you thinking?"
Ask it over and over again. Make them tell you about their thought processes. And educate them to tell you without asking.
Each project, or each of its subparts, by nature has a "running conversation". Try at regular intervals to bring everything back to one conversation--and not two, three or more different, internal ones, of two, three or more junior lawyers or paralegals working on the same overall project. Keep that conversation unified, external and live: real people with real voices meeting or talking on the phone.
You want to get really "interactive"? Get off the Internet for a moment, stop the e-mailing, stop typing, stop blogging--and just talk. Active transactions, negotiations and litigations change every
day. As we've written before, partners and senior lawyers in my firm want client service--i.e., solutions delivered in a way that puts the client first and changes the way clients think about what is possible from lawyers--to be good enough to permit the younger lawyers to steal, in a heartbeat, any client or client project we have. To do that*, to work at that level, to improve legal products and solutions through the running conversation, lawyers doing the day-to-day work must be able to tell you, co-workers and the client what they are thinking. Keep thinking. But keep talking about it.
Give people that habit.
Posted by Holden Oliver at June 23, 2007 03:31 PM