Associates: Don’t Stay Trapped Behind Your Desk!

By Brittany Amendt

When first starting out as a lawyer, the path to becoming a partner in a law firm can seem scary and at times overwhelming. This path has changed in recent years making the road to partner even more frightening. Instead of the traditional method of rewarding those with the most dedication and longevity, it seems today’s associates also need to be rainmakers.

As an associate, it is important to be your own best advocate. Rather than just focusing on doing your billable work, take the time to start building your network. Getting to know your colleagues helps to build relationships and form bonds. These can be important connections down the road and may serve as mentors.

It’s also important to get involved in activities outside the law firm. Start looking for opportunities to stand out as a leader.  See if you can start speaking at bar associations, trade associations, or places relevant to your area of law.  Take the time to take on leadership positions both within the firm and in the community.  Perhaps there is a charity that you can get involved with.  Also, make sure to include networking activities on a monthly basis.

Although trying to find time to engage in these activities may seem daunting, stay focused on your long-term goals. Whether you want to make partner, move to a different firm, or start your own business, your ability to succeed requires that you take time to consistently build your network. You don’t have to go overboard.  Simply make an effort to find 1-2 networking groups you can attend a month.  Then leverage those groups as the first place where you offer to speak.  The most important thing is to step away from your desk and realize your career will flourish only if you take the time to cultivate your reputation and your relationships for the future.

What tips do you have to build your reputation and reduce the path to partnership? Leave a comment below.


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