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Working for a Friend's Law Firm? 5 Tips to Maintain Your Sanity

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

A friend you knew in law school started his own law firm and is hiring. Congratulations, you have an advantage!

Many employers would prefer to hire someone they know over a stranger. Your lawyer friend knows how wonderfully smart and capable you are. He thinks you'd be a great addition to his law firm. But is it a wise idea to work for a friend?

Of course! But, keep these five tips in mind to maintain your friendship and sanity:

1. Understand Your Role.

This is a good practice regardless of whether or not your boss is also your friend. Set out guidelines, goals, expectations, and responsibilities ahead of time. What are your boss' expectations of your duties? What role in the firm do you expect to have? This will help you understanding your place in the firm and keep up with your responsibilities. How can you succeed if you don't know what success is?

2. Treat Your Boss Like a Boss.

During work hours, keep the relationship professional. Don't take advantage of your friendship to disregard your boss' demands, instructions, or feedback. Also, leave your ego at the door when you come to work. It can rankle to have to take orders from the guy who used to sit next to you in Con Law. But remember, you're an employee, not a partner.

3. Don't Expect Special Treatment.

Expect to be treated like any other employee. You've already gotten as much special treatment as you should get. You were hired over other candidates. Work as hard as everyone else there, just like you would anywhere else.

4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

The key to any good relationship is good communication. Any problems should be addressed early. Is your boss demanding too much? Not giving you enough responsibilities? Not respecting your contributions? Don't hold it inside and let it fester. Communicate often to resolve the issues when they're still small.

5. Don't Talk About Work All The Time.

Don't let your work relationship overwhelm your friendship. Set boundaries on where the boss-employee relationship ends, and the friend relationship starts. Spend time together out of the office, and leave the business talk behind.

Any more tips on how to work for a lawyer who's also your friend? Let us know via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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