This is our second of two posts addressing communications. All too often junior associates undermine their reputation through timid or unclear voicemail messages, or by delivering poorly thought out answers to a question. Given that the goal is to make an immediate, positive impression on partners and other senior attorneys, extra care is required as you prepare to communicate complex information. It is important to remember that the way one communicates internally provides supervisors with a glimpse of how a person will likely communicate with a client.
Here are some key rules to follow:
1. Speak clearly, without ambiguity.
2. Avoid acronyms to ensure clarity and understanding.
3. Resist replying immediately to a question, take a moment and provide a thoughtful reply. It is OK to say you would like some time to reflect or think about it.
4. Convey maturity, intelligence, trustworthiness, and reliability in all your verbal communications.
5. Treat every exchange with partners and senior attorneys as if you were interacting with an important client.
6. Prepare for meetings so you convey an understanding of assignments, supervisors’ needs and client goals.
7. Ask questions that communicate enthusiasm and demonstrate that you paid close attention to the information discussed.
8. Display good judgment when deciding what to divulge to all colleagues.
9. Ask more senior attorneys how they would like to stay abreast of progress on an assigned task, particularly when the project is of a longer duration – e.g., would they like to receive periodic updates or a completed draft?
10. Be consistent and respectful.