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Dear YLS Member:
Happy summer!!!! Welcome to another issue of Electronically In-Touch. It is also my first issue as the editor and I thank the Young Lawyers Section for this opportunity.
We have another great issue. This is a member-driven publication, so please do not hesitate to send us an article. Submissions should be sent to me at PFortino@nycm.com. Electronically In Touch is a monthly publication. The deadline for submissions is the 10th of the month.
Save the Dates!
Young Lawyers Section Sponsors U.S. Supreme
Court Admissions Program
Help Wanted: Mentors
Let me start off by stating that my experience is a statistical anomaly. Let me explain…out of the 2006 graduating class of New York Law School (my alma mater), less than 1 percent went into solo practice. I am one, and possibly the only one, of the “less than one percent” demographic. Upon passing the New York and New Jersey Bar Exams, I officially quit my job as a commercial litigation associate in Manhattan and opened up a solo office in Brooklyn. The transition has been nerve-wracking, tense, anxious, exciting, exhilarating, and most of all…enormously rewarding. And while there are many practical points to help a young attorney start his or her own law practice, perhaps the most important piece of advice is this: seek and find as many mentors as you possible can.
It’s critically important to distinguish a mentor from a friend or colleague in the legal field. A colleague is someone you may seek advice from on a handful of occasions when a particular issue befuddles you (e.g. the proper filing fees for to start an action in New York Supreme Court, explaining the Rules Against Perpetuities, etc.) On the other hand, a mentor is someone you seek both broad guidance and practical advice on a particular topic from. As an example, suppose you have never composed a summons and complaint before. When you are lucky enough to have an experienced mentor to guide you along the process, that mentor will not only teach you the proper way to compose the summons and complaint, but he or she will also give you pointers on what to insert in the complaint, the proper way to file the complaint and how the complaint, etc.
In the beginning
stages of setting up your law practice a mentor is invaluable in helping
a new solo manage his or her time. Typically it will take a new solo
practitioner at least twice to three times as much time to complete a
task as it would an experienced solo practitioner. By explaining how to
perform tasks efficiently, a mentor can curtail the amount of time it
takes to complete a task and thereby free up time to allow a new solo to
concentrate on other office duties such as billing clients and training
Standing Out in the Crowd—a
February/March issue, we have been working together on some tools that
you can use to help find the answer to a very scary, but very important
question—What do I want to do when I “grow up”? As
part of the process of self-evaluation, we first asked ourselves four
questions that are geared towards making us consider our decision to
During the hectic, day-to-day rush of being a junior associate, the “big-picture” ideas that these questions are geared towards can easily become forgotten, and we can lose sight of what we really want out of our careers. Coming back to these questions throughout your career can help you step back and consider the overall trajectory that your career is taking, so that you can decide whether or not you like that path.
At the end of last month, I left you all with two more questions that you could use as a tool for stepping back and evaluating your career thus-far:
(1) Who do you
want to become?
These questions are not career-specific. In fact, they are questions that are relevant to every person, regardless of career choice or profession.
The first question, considering who you want to become, is in some ways like asking yourself what you’d want people to say about you at your funeral. What kind of person are you going to be? Are you going to be someone who was known for his devotion to his family? Or who is remembered because of her steadfast service to the community?
Napoleon Hill, one of the first self-help writers, referred to the answer to this first question as a person’s “major definite purpose.” Your major definite purpose is the underlying idea that energizes you, provides you with direction, and tells you who you want to be, and where you want to go. I like to think of the major definite purpose like a mission statement for a nonprofit or a corporation—your major definite purpose describes, in one thoughtful sentence, the vision driving You, Inc.
Your answers to the second question, what are your important core values, will inform your answer to the first question, who do you want to become? That is, if your core values are loyalty, hard-working, determination, life-long learning, and financial success, you might want to be known as someone who worked hard and was very successful in their career, always keeping abreast of new technology and ideas, and as someone who was loyal through and through, no matter what the obstacles, to their friends, colleagues and clients. On the other hand, if your core values are family, friends, service, analytic thinking, and a love of the outdoors, you may want to be remembered as a smart, successful lawyer who loved spending time outdoors with your friends and family hiking and bicycling, and who devoted time and money to conservation groups.
Once you get a sense of what your core values are, and the person that you want to become, you can begin to compare those ideals against your current situation. Most likely, there will not be a complete overlap. If, however, you’ve expressed that your core values are family and service, and you find yourself completely consumed by document review, you are likely to find yourself dissatisfied. At that point, you need to find ways to better manage the day-to-day aspects of your life, so that you make sure to spend time doing things that satisfy your core values. Even doing something as small as scheduling time twice a month on the weekends to volunteer with your family for a nonprofit can have a profound difference in your satisfaction.
Spend some more time really reflecting on these questions. In next month’s column, I’ll start giving you some tools that will help you apply these “big-picture” ideas to your day-to-day life.
The Practicing Attorneys for Law Students (PALS) has recently expanded its mission to include mentoring support and programming for 1st and 2nd year attorneys.
Upcoming events of interest to young attorneys include:
Tuesday, August 7th - Mock Interview/Resume Workshop for Law Students of Color - The New York City Bar, 42 West 44th Street, New York, New York, 3pm - 7pm.
Please visit www.palsprogram.org to join PALS and to view a full list of programs that PALS has scheduled.
PALS Mission Statement:
PALS is dedicated to enhancing the skills and careers of minority law students and early career attorneys. PALS does this by offering customized mentoring, educational and professional development opportunities. PALS provides resources to augment the law school and employer training of, respectively, minority law students and beginning lawyers, and will continue to offer its services free of charge.
*Daniel Gershburg is a solo attorney practicing in Brooklyn, New York.
** Christina H. Bost Seaton is a third year associate in the complex litigation and labor & employment practice groups at Troutman Sanders LLP in Manhattan, where she is constantly trying to “play rainmaker.” She is the co-author of Say Ciao to Chow Mein: Conquering Career Burnout, which is available on www.cordellparvin.com and at bookstores.
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