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Welcome to "First Week at the Firm," a new FindLaw feature for beginning associates, focused on helping you navigate the transition into firm life. We hope you'll enjoy this new series and come back regularly for more insider tips.
Finally land the firm job you've been dreaming of? Congrats! You've taken the first steps to fame and fortune in the law world. But there's still work to be done. Let's start with the start: how to make a good first impression.
Treat it Like it's Still an Interview
If you've made it through the initial interviews, the second round, the hiring committee, guess what: you're not done yet. You got the job, so someone liked you, but there are still plenty of first impressions to be made.
Treating the first week as an extended interview is the best way to come across looking like you're someone who cares about and knows what they're doing. That means being on your best behavior, going out of your way to demonstrate your enthusiasm, and making sure you're having meaningful interactions.
Dress the part. Even if the firm is a more business casual environment, there's nothing wrong with starting off more formal and loosening up after you've made yourself comfortable, well after the first week. If you happen to be so lucky to attend a law firm event early on, be it a client meeting to a court hearing to a cocktail hour, wear a dang suit.
You won't be making any impression if you're locked away in your office, hyperventilating alone as you rush to finish up another memo. Take a time to start up a conversation with others in the firm or to go along to a lunch. You've got to say hello before you can make a name for yourself. Plus, once you make a good connection or two, you'll have someone to ask those embarrassing questions, like where they keep the coffee.
Be Diligent, but Don't Drown
In between all this impression-making, you'll have to do some work. Make sure you're prepared and competent -- or at least familiar with your practice area. But more than that, don't overwhelm yourself by taking on more than you can handle right off the bat.
Yes, law firms like ambitious associates but going around and asking everyone what you can take off their hands is a sure way to find yourself drowning in work that you can't get done. Take awhile to determine your pace and your endurance before seeking out more and more responsibility. Remember, your time there is a marathon, not a sprint.