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Question: First Year Staff Attorney at Large NYC Firm Seeking Advice

Attorney Career Question: I'm a new staff attorney at a large litigation firm in NYC.  Aside from my summer clerkship and some document review jobs after graduation, this is my first firm job. My firm's policies seem shrouded in mystery ex: there is an "unspoken" billable hours requirement, there are no set performance reviews etc.  The associate in charge of my case is overworked and really snappy - and thinks I am the world's biggest idiot.  The other staff attorneys all started a few weeks earlier that I did -so I'm really the newest kid on the block.  Any advice so that I'm not the last one hired and the first one fired???  HELP!!! Thanks so much!

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That sounds like a very stressful situation, so you need to take some action to shed some light. Talk with your co-workers to see if they also feel in the dark. Well managed firms have orientation sessions for new employees where you are told the policies or you can ask questions. Your firm dopesn't seem like one of those.

I suggest that you and your newish colleagues get togther and draft a memo explaining that it would help your productivity if you knew what the firm's expectations are and if you got feedback on your work and expectations. Express your thoughts politely and professionally, suggest an orientation session or designation of a lawyer or administrative point-person for your group to speak with.

I can't guarantee you'll get your issues resolved very soon, but it may get the ball rolling, and a group effort won't put you at particular risk by speaking up. (And if they are so busy, they need you. )When moving to your next job, you'll know to ask questions, and what questions to ask, before you decide to accept the job.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot
Practice Development Counsel
Consulting/Coach to the Next Generation

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