What things do you feel you've learned? Personally there's a lot I feel I didn't learn but here are 25 things I'm taking away from my law firm experience:
1) Most paralegals/staff people aren't very good. This is probably true of most office workers in general but there's only a relatively small number who are really productive. The ones that are really productive though can make your life much, much easier.
2) Most associates have no idea how to manage people which isn't necessarilly bad as they can learn, but so many don't seem to want to learn.
3) Some attorneys write really, really bad briefs. Before I worked here I thought all attorneys were good/great writers. Having now read tons of briefs it's pretty clear that many are terrible. In some ways this is reassuring since many of these are written by folks from top law schools at big firms. On the other hand though the way many of the bigger briefs at these types of firms are done it makes me think that maybe no matter how good of a writer you are, when it's all put together it will look awful.
4) The Ninth Circuit phone tree is poorly laid out and the people there are only marginally helpful.
5) The people at the Second Circuit are very helpful.
6) Appeals are a lot of fun to work on.
7) Discovery involving massive productions is ridiculously expensive, time consuming and mind numbing.
Even at "lifestyle" big firms you still work a ton of hours.
9) Doing 200 or so billable hours a month is not an unreasonable workload. Doing 250-400 billable hours in a month is very hard to sustain and when you're hitting 300-400 you have no life at all. In fact you start to consider things like getting a haircut or doing laundry as the most relaxing things ever.
10) No matter how much time you have before a deadline, briefs always get filed at the last minute.
11) If you're in CA and you need to serve/file something in New York it is possible to send it out same day or close to as it is possible to put someone on a red-eye flight with a box of documents.
12) New York legal copy vendors are terrible in comparison to many in California.
13) Legal secretaries in New York generally are very good in contrast to many on the West coast.
14) Associates burnout really fast. They like the money (who wouldn't?) but when they're in the office at 3 a.m. on Saturday working on interrogatories they seriously start questioning whether it's worth it or not.
15) Just because someone went to a top school doesn't mean they are all that bright. It's intimidating at first always interacting with folks who have these incredible resumes but it becomes clear that you're just as smart as many of them. That being said you do meet people that blow you away with how smart they are and it makes you worry about law school having to compete with these types of people.
16) I never knew what a document management system was before working at a law firm.
17) I've become adept at memorizing client and matter numbers for making copies, filling out disbursements, making long distance calls, blahblahblah.
18) I've learned to like Dr. Pepper and scones because when you're late to meetings all the bagels and other pastries are gone and/or all the Coke is gone.
19) A spy-phone is a must have even though it's painful to see certain names calling you.
20) State courts suck. It's much easier doing things in Federal Court.
21) You eventually learn to enjoy the Blue Book or really hate it.
22) Most attorneys use Blue Books that have been out of date for 5 years or more.
23) Summer associates do absolutely no work at all. It'd be cheaper to just send them checks while they stay at home and you'd probably get more work done.
24) New York firms have much bigger parties involving much more vice than typical CA firms.
25) Always use blue ink for signatures. There's nothing worse than a brief getting dinged because someone signed it in black ink.
Anyone else have things that they've learned?