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It's a new job, either for the summer, or post-grad. You don't know anyone here, nor do you know anything about the substantive law, the office procedures, or where the nearest falafel joint is at.
How do you get up to speed quickly? It's simple: it's all about the people.
1. Get to Know Your Coworkers
Even if you're shy-to-start or permanently introverted, at least during your first week at the firm, you should force yourself to be somewhat outgoing. Introduce yourself to the staff and the other associates. Invite them to lunch.
Having friends amongst the staff and your coworkers can make or break your time at the firm. Friends are less likely to engage in cutthroat competition on cases, will lend a helping hand when you're overloaded, and will be available for venting about a judge or a partner's stupid, terrible decisions.
Besides, is there anything more awkward than working in silence at a desk next to a person you've never met?
2. Observe Everyone
It's not just law, practice, and procedure that you'll want to study during your first week. You'll also want to scope out your coworkers.
Do they stay late, and put in face time? Or do people come and go at will, so long as the work is done? Who is the go-to person for office supplies or administrative questions (especially questions about billable hours)?
And equally important: who are the backbiting gossip-mongers that you need to avoid (or that you can use to your advantage?)
3. Pick a Mentor
If your firm has more than one partner, and if you have access to multiple partners, now is the time to stalk them. Who seems the most interested in developing associates' talents? Conversely, who is more concerned with counting or inflating billable hours?
Also important: who practices the field of law that actually interests you?
You may not be able to find a mentor in a week, and you almost certainly won't be able to suck up enough to build a career-long bond, but you can at least make progress on identifying the people, practice area, and work habits that will make your time at the firm a success.
Have any advice for people starting a new job? Tweet us @FindLawLP.