1.800.973.1177CAREER COUNSELOR’S CORNERPAGE 1 continued on backYou have spent many hours planning your jobsearch with your recruiter, picking the rightfirms and researching them with every sparemoment. You have interviewed like crazy formonths, while staying up late at night tryingto hold down your current job. But it’s allbeen worth it: you finally got the perfect joboffer at the firm of your dreams. Congratula-tions, time to take a deep breath, relax andenjoy the new change in your career. Butdon’t get too comfortable, you still have a lotof important challenges ahead of you if youare going to make this new job a success.Choosing the perfect opportunity is impor-tant. However, that is simply not the endof the equation. The fact that you are nowwith a firm that suits your career goals andpersonality will not, in and of itself, supportthe type of professional situation you wantover time. After making the decision to takea new position, your focus should be on howyou can ensure that the change is everythingyou want it to be.Why is this important? As recruiters and aslawyers, we have encountered many attor-neys with excellent records-except that theirresume reflects 2, 3 or 4 job changes. We cantell you that a significant number of movesfrom firm to firm, in and of itself, will oftenprevent an attorney from getting to interviewwith certain firms. Why? Because some firmswant loyalty and long-term dedication. Often,the law firms with whom we work are hiringassociates they suspect will become lifetimepartners in the firm. Therefore, the likelihoodthat you will leave one position for anothercould become a major hurdle in finding ajob. It is for this reason that upon a move toa new firm, lawyers should do everythingthey can to make it work with that firm. BCGstrongly encourages lawyers to avoid thementality that “if this doesn’t work, I’ll findsomething else.”And, what better opportunity to make arelationship with a firm work than from Day1 on the job - you have enthusiasm and aclean slate on your side. The possibilitiesat the new job are unlimited; you have beengiven a new chance to reshape yourself andyour career. Make the most of it by prepar-ing yourself to adapt and succeed at the newfirm.Learn From Your MistakesMaybe there are things you could have doneat your old job to make your time there moresuccessful and fulfilling. Before you startthe next job, take the time to reflect on themistakes you made in your old job, and thethings you could have done to better yourperformance. Take a hard look at any badhabits you might have developed, and makeit your personal goal to change them. Thisis a perfect opportunity to retool your workhabits.To that end, you may want to take the time tosit down with more senior lawyers at your oldfirm and ask them candid questions aboutyour job performance and how you mightimprove. Many firms are reticent to giveyoung lawyers detailed evaluations of theirperformance during the course of their timeat the firm because the firm does not wantto risk alienating the associate. Now thatyou are going, those lawyers who workedclosely with you may be more willing to giveyou more specific feedback on how you couldimprove yourself as a lawyer. If you are reallycommitted to making the most of your newjob, early on you should focus substantialenergy on strengthening your weak points.Manage Your ExpectationsYou have improved your situation with yourlateral move. However, that does not meanthat your job will be perfect all of the time.Work is still work, and preparing yourself tohandle difficult situations is still important.You’ve been promised a position in the em-ployment litigation section, for instance, butspend three weeks doing document review ona securities case. Remember that in additionto your goals you are still a part of an overallteam. Your participation and enthusiasm forprojects you may not have expected will beappreciated and rewarded in the long run.Know Your EnvironmentWe encourage lateral associates to be proac-tive in jumping into their new professionalcommunity. While most law firms are good atrecruiting and training associates, many fallshort at integrating laterals after they comeaboard. Remember that you are jumpingaboard ‘mid-stream’, so it will be difficultfor any one partner to put the breaks on topainstakingly mentor you through the pro-cess. Do not expect your firm to provide youwith a list of “dos” and “don’ts” on day one;you may have to learn the unwritten rulesyourself - and the quicker the better.Early on, spend time learning about thefirm’s people, its culture, political system,and history. You should take the lead andintroduce yourself to the lawyers and staff atEnsure Your Lateral Move Is a Success[BCG Attorney Search]Finding the right position is only the beginning -- make sure that the reason you left your last job is not going to be the reason you leave your new job.
1.800.973.1177CAREER COUNSELOR’S CORNERPAGE 2 continuedyour new firm. Be nice to everyone, lawyersand staff alike. Although you may have beennice to the important partner, you could quick-ly alienate him or her if you are not polite totheir favorite secretary or staff person.Take it upon yourself to learn what the law-yers do and show them how you can help theirpractice. Study the personal backgroundsof the firm’s leaders, particularly in yourpractice area. Find out where the alliancesand conflicts may lie between the partners,and how the pecking order works. Figure outwhich associates are the most successful andwhat they have done to achieve that suc-cess. Fellow lawyers may be the most usefulresource you have in getting the inside scoopon the firm and its lawyers.Good First ImpressionsThe first several months at a new firm arecritical. You need to show the lawyers thatyou do good work, are a team player, andare an enjoyable person to be around. Try tomake yourself feel at home in your new firmas quickly as you can. Although your firstreaction may be to devote all your energiesto producing good work product, you mustallow time for socializing. Indeed, you shouldattend social functions of any kind, such asreceptions, parties, group meetings, trainingseminars, and recruiting lunches. Any of theseevents can afford you good opportunities forone-on-one conversations with other lawyers.Make sure to listen attentively and ask ques-tions that show your interest and enthusiasm.After you meet a lawyer, keep track of thatcontact and follow up later with a visit orphone call. This will fix in that lawyer’s mindthat you are part of the firm, and that you areinterested in working with him or her. Theseencounters provide you with a good forum tobuild relationships to support your growth inthe firm. Some of these lawyers will even giveyou work assignments.If there are not many social occasions, do notbe afraid to make some. Ask junior membersof your work group out to lunch or coffee. Get-ting to know them can be instrumental in un-derstanding the more senior lawyers, and thepolitical makeup of the firm as a whole. Justlike anything in life, be careful about the mo-tivations of some lawyers you befriend. Someassociates may just want to complain aboutthe conditions of the firm. You should avoidthe complainers because it may give you anunfairly negative view of the firm and preventyou from exploring it with eyes open. Plus, youalso do not want to align yourself with peopleknown to be complainers or malcontents.When more senior lawyers or firm staff peopleask for volunteers, do so. Your involvementin recruiting or firm management commit-tees is a great way to meet other lawyers, andshows your commitment to the success of theorganization. If your firm has a strong culturalcommitment to a particular charity or probono activity, you should try to get involvedwith that. Another great way to get exposureto the lawyers you work with is to help plan ormake a presentation to your practice group.Many practice groups have regular meetingsat which one or more of their lawyers speakto the group on a topic of mutual interest.These are good opportunities to demonstrateyour legal acumen before many or all of yourpeers.The Important PartPerhaps the single most important aspect ofyour first few months at the firm will be theworking relationships you form. You will wantto try to build close relationships with thepartners and senior associates who will ulti-mately play the largest role in shaping yourcareer at the firm.For the most part, senior lawyers are mostlikely to choose junior lawyers with whom theyare comfortable. Because you do not have ahistory with these lawyers, you will need toexceed expectations in your early contactswith them. Make sure you create an impres-sion that you do good work and add value toeach project. Pay close attention to details,and be available to work on projects at alltimes. Make sure to regularly report back tomore senior lawyers. Being very organizedwill help you do better work and will makesenior lawyers more likely to rely on you formore important projects.Realize before you start that there is not oneright way to do things. Your new firm will likelydo certain things differently than your old one,just as certain partners within any firm havevaried legal styles and preferences. Do not beset in your ways; go into the new job with yourmind set on tailoring your own way of practic-ing to fit the firm. If you keep an open mind,you might even learn there is a better way todo things. And if you think the new firm doesnot quite do things the right way, be carefulnot to rock the boat too hard too early. Try ittheir way in the early stages, or kindly suggestyour alternative and see how those above yourespond.Be aware of the impression you leave onclients, as well. There is no easier way to getyourself in hot water than to upset a key cli-ent. Particular clients have particular needs.Do not be shy to ask questions of more seniorlawyers about these needs, as they may forgetthat you are new and do not know the “rules”for that client. Some clients are highly cost-conscious, while some are not happy unlessthey know that every stone has been turnedover. Some clients will have a very set formatfor how they like their legal work to be done.TroubleshootingAt some point you may find that, despite allyour best efforts, your entrée to your new firmis not going quite as well as expected. Youshould be prepared to adjust your strategy inresponse to changes in the firm, or changesin your department. Conversations with seniorlawyers may help you understand wherethe firm is going and which partners may bebest able to provide you with the work youwant. You may want to shift your marketingefforts to other lawyers. If the departmentyou are in is having trouble, be open to taking
1.800.973.1177CAREER COUNSELOR’S CORNERPAGE 3assignments from other departments. Butmost importantly, be prepared to adjust yourexpectations, by taking assignments that arenot so interesting or desirable. You may findthat these experiences not only give you theappearance of a team player, but they also ex-pose you to new legal concepts that will makeyou a more rounded lawyer.As time goes on, you will find that you are get-ting more significant assignments, that seniorlawyers increasing rely on you, and that juniorlawyers are coming to you with questions.Congratulations, you have arrived. But do notlet the success get the best of you. The differ-ence between lawyers who enjoy long-termsuccess and those who do not is the suc-cessful lawyer’s ability to keep growing anddeveloping. Do not ease up on the standardsyou have set for yourself; success in the law isas much about maintaining a constant learn-ing process as it is about hard work. If youkeep building your relationships with lawyersin your firm and with clients, you will continueto succeed.Entering your new job with your eyes and mindopen is the perfect compliment to your lateralmove, and will help ensure that your first biglaw firm move is your last. BCG is excited tohelp contribute to that continued success.