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by Vault Law Editors | March 16, 2007

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The brave new world that emerges from this recession will be a competitive one, in which associates will need to take charge of their careers early on, says Frank Michael D’Amore, a recruiter at Attorney Career Catalysts. In his Legal Intelligencer article, D’Amore notes that, as associates lose the “false sense of security” instilled by the lockstep system, they will have to make greater efforts to stand out from their peers, whether they’re preparing for an internal review or a lateral move.

“If this recession teaches associates anything, it is the value of looking ahead,” says D’Amore. Toward that end, he offers four steps associates can take now to help prepare for the future:

  1. Take on challenging work. “An associate’s attractiveness on the market, and to clients and partners in the evaluating firm, will largely be driven by the complexity of work and how well that work is performed.”
  2. Network, network, network. “Keep in touch with college and law school classmates, in-house counsel and general business contacts. This is the foundation from which you will get work and also is an important group of contacts who can help you in making a move.”
  3. Save your writing. “[K]eep copies (both hard and digital) of all those articles, blog posts, newsletter pieces and other writings that you do for your firm. … In this regard, it helps to periodically ‘Google’ yourself, as this may produce some surprises as to where your contributions have appeared.”
  4. Record your achievements. “These accomplishments will be essential not only in talking to a prospective firm, but in client pitches and in making your case inside of your firm when compensation review time arrives.”

“In many respects,” D’Amore concludes, “the key going forward is to begin thinking like a partner. This will better prepare you for the future, will help you to become a better lawyer, and will make you much more valuable to your firm and clients.”

(Oh, and you might want to re-think the working from home thing. While some enlightened partners urge firms to “focus on efficiency and competency—not hours in the office or hours on a project—but on productive time doing quality work,” others apparently still consider face time the real measurement tool.)

- posted by vera

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