Skip to content

Associates–Don’t “Just Be Yourself”

July 20, 2007

Hey summers and first years: 

They are watching you. 

They see everything you do.  From your interactions with staff, to your drinking habits, to your attitude toward your assignments–they will be watching to see how you handle yourself.

While you are on the job you are being carefully scrutinized.  I don’t mean in a creepy stalker kind of way, I mean–you are being evaluated. 

So don’t believe someone if they tell you to “just be yourself.”  You most certainly cannot “just be yourself”– You have to be better.  Appearances are very important to your early success.  

“You have to manage your image.  In other words: it isn’t what you are.  It’s what you manifest in your words and behavior, what other people see and hear of you.  Does this sound paranoid?  Sure.  But it’s healthy paranoia, and your career depends on it”

You do want people to see “You”–but you want them to see the best parts of you without seeing any of your negative aspects. 

You want to come off as the kind of attorney that will instill confidence in clients–so you must show that you have good judgment and that you know how to handle yourself in all situtations.  You are a professional–so act like it.

Do not get lulled into feeling comfortable.  You have to keep your guard up. 

Watch what you say to people in your firm no matter how much you trust them.  Get a mentor outside your firm–or talk to your friends who don’t work at your firm.  There are a different set of friendship rules at work–and people WILL repeat what you say. 

There is such a thing as a stupid question.  Think things through before you ask for help.  You might want to ask an associate before you ask the partner who assigned you work.  Don’t ask a million questions about minutia–Use your common sense for goodness’ sake!!!

Be humble.  Your secretary knows a lot more than you do.

 And please do not tell anyone you are working for that you are bored.  They will resent your comment (and probably you) because “I’m bored” tells them that you do not appreciate the opporunities they are handing you.

And I hope this goes without saying–but I’ll say it anyway–show up to work every day, on time, and get your assignments done. 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lawyer-Man permalink
    July 20, 2007 6:08 pm

    Speaking from the partner perspective, I can assure you that this is very good advice. When you hear a partner say, “just be yourself,” this means the following: (1) never be late, (2) never leave early, (3) never call in sick, (4) when you get an assignment, do it as well as you humanly can and as fast as you can, (5) never give a work product to a partner with so much as one comma out of place (the partner does not expect to have to proofread for you), (6) never cite to cases that you have not personally read and virtually memorized and shepardized, (7) never complain, and (8) never forget you are in a law firm, so don’t treat your summer like it’s a social club or a locker room.


  1. One of Those Weeks « PhiLAWdelphia
  2. Summer Associate Advice Reprised « PhiLAWdelphia
  3. You really can’t “just be yourself” at work… « Kim Kraynak's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: