Today’s BigLaw associates face unprecedented expectations from the moment they join their firms. In the 80’s and 90’s, associates were expected to work hard, but there was more latitude given to junior attorneys who were embarking on a steep learning curve. Due to increased competition for institutional clients, intense client pressures around efficiency and cost savings, and higher starting salaries and billing rates, there is now far greater pressure on the youngest associates to become productive quickly and to demonstrate a capacity for business development at a much earlier stage
This new environment requires that associates become more proactive within their law firms, seeking assignments that will allow them to build an array of substantive skills and strengthen their firm profile. Associates must also focus on the need to foster relationships within and outside their practice groups, along with developing multiple relationships with formal and informal mentors who can provide them sufficient guidance to grow as lawyers and relationship builders.
Taking the initiative to request feedback is also a crucial step that can help an associate to quickly move along the learning curve. Not only does this show commitment, it attracts the right attention and nurturing from partners with influence.