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Although law firms do not tend to adhere to the typical structure of most for-profit businesses, the politics certainly can feel rather typical. As associates try to impress partners, backs get stabbed, "friends" get crossed, and lawyers suddenly have to admit that some TV lawyer drama at least got the drama part right.
But, office politics don't have to be tricky. After all, just about everyone is seeking the same exact things in a law firm: promotion to partner and/or more money. Below, you'll find three tips to help you navigate law firm office politics.
If self preservation is an instinct you possess and you don't know which partner(s) call the shots, you need to figure it out. In addition to knowing who the decision makers are, understanding who are the influencers is also important. Once you know who is who, you can easily map out who you need to win over in order to make partner (or get a bigger bonus, or just keep your job).
While it may feel nice to have a work clique, that comfort zone might hamper your financial comfort at the end of the day. Managers tend look upon employee cliques unfavorably and as holding teamwork back. Also, if your clique is only associates, the partners may not feel comfortable moving you up because of your strong affiliation with associates they don't want to promote.
While you may have been taught to think before you speak and act as a child, it's a bit of a different lesson as an adult working in a law firm or office setting. Showing composure is important to advance to management levels, as is choosing the appropriate response for any given situation (including your personal responses on personal social media accounts). Avoiding incidents where others may view you or your actions as rash, imprudent, or immature, is the end goal if you want to avoid any sort of political backlash and continue to be seen as a candidate for advancement.
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