Monday Practice Tip for Young Attorneys- Working for Multiple Partners

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  On Mondays we help our less experienced brothers and sisters of the Bar with a practice tip.  Today’s tip deals with working for multiple partners at a law firm.

Some firms are structured such that associates are placed on a specific “team” led by one partner.  My firm, Clarke Silverglate, P.A., has never operated that way and I am glad for it.  Different attorneys have not only different areas of expertise, but also different methods that aid in their success.  In a way this mirrors the law in general — if there was one right answer to every question, we would need 50 lawyers in this country instead of the seemingly 50 million that we have!  Both the law itself and the practice of law lend theirselves to different and sometimes equally meritorious paths.  The short of it is, I have gotten to work for and learn from several different partners.

Like everything in law and in life, however, this benefit has presented its challenges over the years.  Working for different mentors has required me to wear multiple hats from hour to hour as I have had to meet the needs and expectations of those different partners.  So, without further ado, here are some tips in dealing with multiple partners:

1) Learn each partners’ individual quirks and nuances.  I’m sorry to disappoint you, but most law partners have not been together for their whole careers.  Moreover, their goal is to thrive in their individual practices for the general benefit of the firm, not to separately work at creating unified work practices.  The point is, you must adjust to their individuality rather than expect them to adjust to any perceived desire for consistency on your part.  Remember, a recurring theme on these Monday posts are that behind their intimidating facades, those in power in this profession (judges, partners, etc.) are human beings who are just as set in their ways as we are.  So, when  you work for partners, be observant in their tendencies and try to get to a point where you know what they will want and how they will want it before they have to tell you. 

2) Who takes priority?  They all do!  We often have that simple problem relating to time management — multiple partners hitting you with emergencies at the same time.  My theory on this dilemma is “communicate early or don’t communicate at all.”  That is, if the opportunity presents itself to tactfully advise a partner that you cannot take on a project due to another commitment for another partner, do it when you are being assigned the task and not at a juncture where the partner cannot find another solution.  If you wait too long, well, your best bet is to just bite the bullet and handle both emergencies.  This is going to be one of those long nights at the office.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  Sometimes it’s nice to see a 12-13 hour day on your time sheets. 

3) Try to avoid office politics at the highest levels.  Again, we are all human.  Sometimes, after a long stressful day at the office, or maybe an extra helping of liquid courage at a happy hour, someone will do some negative gabbing, sometimes partners will even discuss other partners.  It happens.  Over decades-long careers, people who really respect each other will despise each other in short bursts.  My recommendation in these instances is to respectfully deflate the situation.  Don’t pile on to the negative talk, but also don’t step on the author’s toes by suggesting he or she is being inappropriate.  Just change the subject. 

By the way, if you enjoy these Monday practice tips, one of my partners at Clarke Silverglate, Frank Ramos, has his own daily blog devoted exclusively to this topic.  You can find it at http://tipsforyounglawyers.wordpress.com.  It’s a great blog and I highly recommend it. 

I hope this helps and I will be back tomorrow with a Tuesday pop review!

Explore posts in the same categories: Practice Tips for Young Attorneys

One Comment on “Monday Practice Tip for Young Attorneys- Working for Multiple Partners”

  1. boxing Says:

    That is really interesting, You’re an overly skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your rss feed and stay up for in the hunt
    for extra of your fantastic post. Additionally, I’ve shared your site in my social networks


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: