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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2018

New Lawyers Newer lawyers were likely children in the era of the internet where information was constantly available at their fingertips. Answers were always accessible – so younger professionals speak up with confidence because they have done their research, no matter what rank is listed on their business cards. As many more experienced lawyers have already seen, however, millennial lawyers may not yet be aware of what we don’t know. We can read 100 articles on litigation and negotiation, but there is no substitute for experience, wisdom, insight and instinct. If you’ve built up trust with a new lawyer, please share your honest perspective on (a) our work and (b) our practice style. Simply put, inexperience can lead to blinders, so patience and honesty are virtues when interacting with an attorney-in-training. 3. Please do not hesitate to work with us on cases. If a case is simultaneously assigned to a junior and a senior attorney from one firm, technically (of course) opposing counsel can call either attorney to discuss the case because both will have the authority to move the case forward. However, it would help the bar as a whole and the younger attorneys in particular if the more experienced opposing counsel could respond to the specific attorney who reached out to make an inquiry, whether the inquirer is the senior or junior associate on the case. At times, a younger attorney may contact opposing counsel for information or to discuss a case, only to have them call the more senior attorney and shut the newer lawyer out of productive talks. There are certainly reasons for an experienced opposing attorney to do that – seasoned attorneys have been working together for years and trust has been earned. Yet, if junior attorneys get bypassed, both sides lose a valuable opportunity to form new relationships. Professional friendships and trust are important in law, especially when cases become contentious. The Birmingham Bar benefits when connections are made and gaps between attorneys are bridged. Importantly, if seasoned attorneys only contact each other, the younger lawyer also misses chances at gaining negotiation or communication experience. So please don’t hesitate to work with a younger attorney – give us a chance to prove ourselves first. 4. You can use our schedule flexibility as a resource. Let’s face it, young lawyers simply don’t usually have all the obligations and clients that more experienced lawyers have. If you work with a younger attorney and you have a schedule conflict, your newer colleague may be happy to fill in for you, especially if he or she can learn something new from the experience. You can take advantage of a young opposing attorney’s flexible schedule to get depositions or mediations set sooner. If you are looking for people to attend a charity event or another networking affair, try inviting young attorneys – new lawyers are thirsty for networking opportunities and will show up to support your cause. 5. Don’t be afraid to hire us. There are advantages to hiring a young attorney for both employers and clients. For those worried about their bottom line, new attorneys may accept a lower salary or case load at first while we build our skills, so the hiring costs are lower than a lateral hire. Less experienced lawyers probably have not experienced a big “burn out,” and we are working hard to build our reputation. We are not de-sensitized to client issues or controversies with other lawyers, so problems in a case are taken seriously. Most young attorneys have great computer skills. If you are an owner of a firm, try asking new associates to do research on the most updated programs, apps and hardware so your practice can stay up to date on technological advancements (they have the expertise to do so, but more importantly, they have the time as well). Finally, younger attorneys may have extra time to work on marketing projects, social media outreach, or community/ charity initiatives for your firm. In more ways than one, a young attorney can be an asset to a firm, even before they build the skill set and knowledge base necessary for an independently successful practice. The bar is aging, and it is good news that Birmingham’s lawyers are more wise, insightful and experienced than ever – it’s important for us all to consider that seasoned attorneys do not need a formal mentorship program to spread the wisdom and foster younger lawyers to follow their lead. G Jessica M. Zorn, Contributor Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Fall 2018 19


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2018
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