By Adam Doerr and Taylor Hunter, Kroger Gardis & Regas
Whether you are just getting started or lateraling to a new firm, navigating the day-to-day office relationships and a new routine can be overwhelming and outright intimidating. Throw in COVID-19 social distancing rules, masks, elbow bumps, Zoom, etc. and it’s not an easy task.
As fifth-year associates and newcomers to Kroger Gardis & Regas law firm in Indy, we’ve experienced these situations. In this blog, we offer first-hand perspectives and pointers to consider as you start (or continue) your law career.
- Have an open door policy. Nothing says "I’m not available" like a closed office door. As a newcomer, the best way to let your new colleagues know you are willing or available to chat is to keep your office door open if and when possible. In the remote setting, try checking in with co-workers with a scheduled phone call. Talking on the phone gets you away from the computer and helps you develop a more personal connection than just emailing. Additionally, if your practice group has regular video chats or if the firm offers a happy hour, make sure to participate.
- Scope out the "rainmakers." Know which of your team members are at the top when it comes to client billing and ask them to lunch, coffee, or a Zoom meeting. High billers are in that position for a reason and will have useful advice and guidance on professional development. It also does not hurt to have a constant stream of work from someone that has a lot of it!
- Home sweet home. It may sound cliché but make your workspace your own. If you are working from home for the foreseeable future, make a designated spot for your office to maintain a routine of "going to work." If you are like us and are at the office part-time, bring in your favorite coffee mug, add a comfy pouf, decorate with travel pictures or family photos, and create a throwback music playlist to have in case you have to stay late to crank out work. It’s important to add personal touches that make you feel more comfortable. Let’s face it, the days can be long. Plus, fun or quirky personal items can lead to icebreakers for those occasional drop-ins or awkward Zoom calls.
- Take advantage of coffee breaks and cross-marketing. If you are like us, around 2 p.m. your brain is demanding caffeine and you are likely not alone. Caffeine breaks are a good excuse to schedule time with your team members. Schedule 10 minutes out of your day for a “coffee break” with a new team member (including those outside your practice group). This also can be done via a phone call or video chat in the remote setting. This is an efficient opportunity to learn about someone else’s practice and ways you can work together to better service your clients.
- Meet the marketing team. Make a point to introduce yourself to the marketing team in the first week or two and find ways to market you’ve been hired. This could be in a blog or newsletter mention. Not only will you make a personal connection with the marketing team, but you can share the content they create with clients or on your own social media channels like LinkedIn.
- Be willing (and ready and eager) to stretch yourself. Embrace extra challenges during your first few weeks on the job. You will be learning how to work with new partners – each with different pet peeves and writing styles. The projects they assign you may require you to learn new areas of law, necessitating extra effort on your part to complete. Show them you are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to create good work, and it will go a long way towards ensuring that partners will keep coming back to you to give you work. You may also find a niche you enjoy along the way!
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