Your experience as a young attorney does not need to be controversial or difficult. As a new attorney, you suddenly face multiple complicated situations that can deteriorate your career and relationship with others. So the question then posed is: How should we swim the rapids without sinking or falling over?
Being an emerging attorney comes with several great responsibilities. You are now a potential liability to your firm, to the clients, and to your own career. You must learn to make decisions, think on your feet, and adapt to complex situations. You are suddenly surrounded by huge amounts of pressure that demand that you do your best. In addition, you are thrown into a world where it is expected that you bring in new clients, as well as handle individual and institutional clients in a professional and respectful manner. You are also responsible for answering difficult and complex (or nuanced)) questions comprehensively, yet eloquently.
Don’t panic. Although it is a lot that it is being asked of you, the good news is that you can do it. All of these tasks will come to you with experience and practice, so do not freak out right away. There is also a very easy way to navigate these waters, as you gain perspective and experience.
First, treat the client as the most pivotal role in the act. The client dictates the direction, the cost, and what you should be doing. So you must listen between the lines and understand clearly what goal (or strategy) the client is trying to achieve.
Second, treat attorneys at your law firm like your client. When they ask you to do research, make sure it is well done. When they ask you a question, make sure to give them a prompt answer. When they ask you to draft a legal document, make sure you give them the final draft of the product (and not the second or third draft). When attorneys are delegating work to you, they have high expectations. It also helps to remember that the law firm is the one investing on your career. The law firm is providing you with the opportunity to gain experience and growth. Therefore, it makes sense that you, as a new emerging attorney, need to take this relationship seriously.
Third, think about what new things you have to offer. You may be helping bridge the gap between electronics, cell phones, blackberries. Or, you might have some powerful insight in a particular industry. I strongly believe that every single individual has many things to offer, most of which are useful, if given time. So take some time to think about your strengths and weaknesses. If you are having problems coming up with a list, you should feel free to ask other attorneys and the partners for their advice and comments.
In summary, treat your work as a job and do it well. There is no point in complaining about long hours, or difficult research, when that is exactly what you signed up for. Treat every single assignment with high charisma and buckle up for the ride.