Survival tips for new associates: David Dummer, an associate in the Dallas office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, has written an article with 10 survival tips for new associates. Although the tips are not particularly revolutionary, they set a good framework for new associates and might serve as a reminder for more advanced lawyers. Some suggestions never go out of style, such as asking questions to clarify an unclear assignment, taking a long-term view of networking and staying in touch with law school classmates, and making an effort to learn the case as a whole rather than focusing on only a discrete project within the case. And I particularly like Dummer’s final tip:
10. Your nameplate is your shingle. Remembering this mantra will help you learn how to operate in the firm setting. In many ways, you are a solo practitioner, and the partners and senior associates in the office are your clients. Think about what makes these clients want to hire you — consistently good work, value-added creativity and efficiency. Run your office so that you can deliver this type of work product to your clients every day.
How did a small IP firm build a 54% female partnership? One of the interesting things about having practiced patent law is the overwhelming male domination in the field — though that’s changing. So I took notice of an article about Lahive & Cockfeld, a 30-lawyer IP firm in Boston that boasts 7 women in a 13-member partnership. Lahive represents clients such as Biogen Idec, Navartis, and Wyeth and bills over $30 million annually. It has created a flexible compensation system that rewards lawyers for billing as well as business generation, client maintenance and associate mentoring, and the firm offers a work/life balance-friendly work structure:
“We didn’t want to encourage attorneys building their own practice in isolation,” said Giulio A. DeConti Jr., chairman of the executive committee. “We wanted to encourage being like a firm.”
Lahive fully embraces the notion of full-time flexibility, or allowing attorneys to vary their hours and office time while juggling a full workload.
Today, seven of Lahive & Cockfield’s 13 partners are women and a full pipeline of women are waiting to move up the ranks, including 67 percent of its patent agents and 58 percent of its technical specialists. Patent agents, who can represent patent applicants at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and technical specialists typically have advanced science or technical degrees and are usually attending law school part time. The firm has 18 patent agents and technical specialists.
Work/life fit: As regular readers of this blog know, I continue to struggle with the term “work/life balance” and seek something more descriptive of the real situation — because “balance” just isn’t it. I was delighted to discover “work+life fit inc.”, whose tagline is “It’s Fit, Not Balance.” The company has recently sponsored a survey of 900 adults who work full time, with the following finding:
When asked what is the single most important change they would make to their jobs, respondents (51%) chose options that entailed working differently over making more money. When considering a different work style, 35 percent of those surveyed rated flexibility as most important and 16 percent rated responsibilities that better use their talents.
Of the 35 percent who chose flexibility, only 5 percent said reducing their schedule by more than 10 hours was most important. This was equal for men and women and counters previous research suggesting more people are interested in “part-time” employment. Working the same number of hours but with a more flexible schedule was most important to 13 percent, while 10 percent would opt to cut their schedule by 1 to 10 hours and 7 percent would prefer to work from a location outside the office.
“The perpetuating myths that people want to work significantly fewer hours and that work life flexibility means working less are simply not true,” said [Cali Williams] Yost [president of Work+Life Fit, Inc.]. “Most employees don’t want to work less, they just want to work differently in a way that better utilizes their talents or is a better fit with the rest of their lives’ demands and desires.”