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sharksarefishtoo

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lacking confidence
« on: May 26, 2010, 06:32:11 PM »
I'm a very lucky recent law school graduate, who, despite terrible grades in law school and having not even taken the Bar exam yet, managed to get a dream job in the exact niche of law I always wanted to practice in.  The law firm is small, relatively new, and I'm the only legal intern.  I take the bar in July and the firm even paid for a review course for me.  I love the people I work for, but I'm constantly in fear.  I have so much anxiety and lack of confidence because I feel like I must have gotten this job by pure luck or some kind of cosmic mistake.  They are well-known and highly respected within our area for being the best at this particular niche of law.  They are always having law students and recent grads offering to work for them for free even (just for the experience).  I'm not sure why they hired me or why they've kept me for almost a year now.  Is it possible they just don't have the heart to fire me?  They say I do good or even great work, but that I'm slow and I don't take enough initiative to anticipate what they need before they ask for it. 

I want to take more initiative, but I'm paralized with apprehension and lack of confidence.  Is this normal?  Does anyone else feel extremely stressed out about not living up to their employer's expectations?  or do I just need therapy or something?

cooleylawstudent

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Re: lacking confidence
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2010, 07:07:04 PM »
how can they be well know if they are new? ???

sharksarefishtoo

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Re: lacking confidence
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2010, 07:21:31 PM »
Well known by name, not by firm.  Lawyers in this area change firms all the time. I mean, as far as I've seen, lawyers get reputations that travel with them, regardless of what firm they work for (especially in specialized areas of law).

bigs5068

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Re: lacking confidence
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2010, 07:55:48 PM »
I imagine everybody is scared I know I have been at any job I had when I started out. I think if they are paying you money then they will let you know if your not doing a good job. If you were an unpaid intern then maybe they are being nice, but considering they have given you money to take the bar and apparently are paying you a salary you must be doing a good job.  No employer likes to waste money in any industry on someone that's not getting it done and a law firm in particular Iwill let you know your doing a bad job by laying you off/firing you.


sharksarefishtoo

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Re: lacking confidence
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2010, 08:03:44 PM »
Thanks.  I guess you're right.  It is a business after all. 

cooleylawstudent

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Re: lacking confidence
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2010, 08:41:36 PM »
A small firm will probally give you more one-on-one time with the partners too to let them mentor you. That will be cool.

sharksarefishtoo

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Re: lacking confidence
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2010, 08:48:31 PM »
Absolutely.  It's one reason I love the job.  I'm the only intern and the only non-partner even in the firm.  So it's pretty much all one-on-one time. 

Thane Messinger

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Re: lacking confidence
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2010, 12:12:07 AM »
Yes, it is normal.  And, to be a bit contrary, you're quite right to be nervous.  There's a LOT that can go wrong in law practice, and as a new associate (even "just" an intern) you'll feel the stumbles quite sharply.  Why is it so treacherous?  Because the stakes are so high.  Your firm's and partner's livelihoods are at stake . . . and even more for clients. So, this is very, very serious.

On the positive side, you CAN do this.  Every attorney has done this.  What is needed is careful consideration of the world you're entering.  Just as law school was a very different animal from college, so too is law practice VERY different from law school. 

I'll likely get in trouble, but here goes.  Here are three books that every new lawyer should read.

First is Morten Lund's Jagged Rocks of Wisdom.  This is an inside look into the mind of your new boss.  Trust me, it's better to learn this before you step into a partner's office.  (This is so even for nice partners, who can paradoxically be more dangerous to your career.)

Second is Lund's Jagged Rocks of Wisdom--The Memo.  Memos are very much a part of law office life, and the standards are much, much higher than you're used to.  This book will save you some embarrassing and potentially deadly moments.

Third, with the requisite disclaimers, is my own, The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survivial Guide.  I wrote it to give the new attorney some sense of the extraordinarily higher and different standards expected of you.

I hope these help.

Thane.


I'm a very lucky recent law school graduate, who, despite terrible grades in law school and having not even taken the Bar exam yet, managed to get a dream job in the exact niche of law I always wanted to practice in.  The law firm is small, relatively new, and I'm the only legal intern.  I take the bar in July and the firm even paid for a review course for me.  I love the people I work for, but I'm constantly in fear.  I have so much anxiety and lack of confidence because I feel like I must have gotten this job by pure luck or some kind of cosmic mistake.  They are well-known and highly respected within our area for being the best at this particular niche of law.  They are always having law students and recent grads offering to work for them for free even (just for the experience).  I'm not sure why they hired me or why they've kept me for almost a year now.  Is it possible they just don't have the heart to fire me?  They say I do good or even great work, but that I'm slow and I don't take enough initiative to anticipate what they need before they ask for it. 

I want to take more initiative, but I'm paralized with apprehension and lack of confidence.  Is this normal?  Does anyone else feel extremely stressed out about not living up to their employer's expectations?  or do I just need therapy or something?

Henri_Allen

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Re: lacking confidence
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2012, 04:37:57 PM »
It's probably true that if they feel you're not doing a good job, they'll let you know.  It's possible that part of the reason that you feel so insecure and nervous is that the other people around you, being partners, have a much better handle on what they're doing and are therefore more confident than someone who's just starting out.  If they say you're doing "good/great" work, take note of why they may have classified it that way, and believe them!  If they tell you there are areas where you can improve, work on that.  If you stay on top of your game, you should have less reason to feel insecure. 

Thane Messinger

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Re: lacking confidence
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2012, 06:08:28 PM »
It's probably true that if they feel you're not doing a good job, they'll let you know.   It's possible that part of the reason that you feel so insecure and nervous is that the other people around you, being partners, have a much better handle on what they're doing and are therefore more confident than someone who's just starting out.  If they say you're doing "good/great" work, take note of why they may have classified it that way, and believe them!  If they tell you there are areas where you can improve, work on that.  If you stay on top of your game, you should have less reason to feel insecure.


The above is true, but I have to respectfully disagree with the first sentence.  Chances are good that partners (or any boss) will *not* let you know when something is wrong.  Many will huff off, shut down, or simply steam in their offices while correcting work they asked you to do.  You, of course, are left to wonder what's going on.  Chances are good that decisions will be made about you before you really have a chance to prove yourself.  Fair?  Not even.  But, as the saying goes, who ever said life was supposed to be fair?  In law practice, there's simply too much at stake, and too much going on, for most partners to be sensitive to the agonies of nearly all associates.  Fair or not, it's your job to correct yourself.  That, after all, is much of what an attorney is: spot the issue, and solve it.

Again, for all, I encourage you to read the three books mentioned:  Jagged Rocks of Wisdom; Jagged Rocks of Wisdom--The Memo; and The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book.  Not to be overly melodramatic, but they could save your career, or at least months of pavement-pounding as you search for a new job.  In this market, these are nearly the same risk.

Thane.