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How to Succeed as an Associate: Resources and Links

In case you didn’t know, the analytics backend of websites shows you the search terms people typed into a search engine to get to your website. At least until Google encrypted all search terms. Some still get through, whatever percentage of people that don’t use Google. I check my analytics every few days to see what people are looking for when they come to Associate’s Mind. Often times the search phrases are funny, and I share them on Twitter:

associatesmind twitter

Not all are funny of course. The two types of search phrases that show up most often are the following:

Some variation of the title of this post, How to Succeed as an Associate in a Small Law Firm. Examples:

  • how can new lawyer succeed
  • how to be a good lawyer
  • how to became an good advocate
  • how successful trial lawyers conduct themselves
  • how can young lawyer make it
  • being a good lawyer

The other type of search phrase that show up most often is more desperate.

  • why im a terrible lawyer
  • graduate lawyer mistakes
  • why do I fail as lawyer
  • young lawyer struggling
  • loser new attorney
  • hate my law job

The fact that these are such regular search queries are a big reason why I decided to write my book. I started Associate’s Mind to have an avenue to explore what it meant to be a new lawyer, through topics that I found interesting: writing, psychology, research, professional development, etc. While many lawyers are interested in these topics as well, just as many lawyers are just simply looking for guidance. There are so many lawyers, and the job market is in such turmoil, that new lawyers are without assistance or mentorship they might have once had. So what do they do? The same thing they do when they have any other problem or need to find some piece of information – they turn to the internet. Often those searches lead them here.

resource-icon1So if you are a new lawyer looking for guidance or solace, I wanted to provide some resources that I have found valuable over the years. There are even more resources compiled in my book.

General Practice

  • At Counsel Table —Alex Craigie shares his views on the craft and business of the courtroom lawyer from the perspective of an AmLaw 200 firm.
  • Lawyerist —Focused on the basics of practice. Features a stable of rotating contributors.
  • Litigation and Trial — Max Kennerly offers news and opinion from the perspective of a high end plaintiff’s firm.
  • My Shingle — Carolyn Elefant’s long running blog on solo practice. Great resource if you are looking to start a solo practice.
  • New York Personal Injury Law Blog —Eric Turkewitz on interesting civil cases. Nominally New York focused but covers cases nationwide.
  • Philly Law Blog — The Hardy Boys practice law. Represent.
  • Simple Justice – Scott Greenfield pontificates on crime, blawgs, the legal industry, or whatever else floats his boat that morning. Prolific and always worth reading.
  • The Trial Warrior — Antonin Pribetic shares his views on practice and law from a Canadian perspective.
  • Virtual Law Practice — Stephanie Kimbro, perhaps the only person online talking about operating a non-physical (virtual) practice in an ethical and competent manner.
  • What About Clients? — Dan Hull, biz litigator. Posts on life, the universe, and everything. Focus on client service and the benefits of studying the Classics.

News

  • ABA Journal — Broadly covers trends in law and generally perceived as one of the central voices of the legal industry by the mainstream media.
  • Above The Law — What was once a “legal tabloid” has slowly morphed into the preeminent source of much of today’s legal news. Topics range from the inner workings of the largest law firms in the world to guidance for solo practitioners and law school rankings.
  • Overlawyered — One of the oldest running law blogs. Covers the legal system as a whole.
  • SCOTUSblog — Discussion of recent developments in U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence.
  • Wall Street Journal Law Blog — The Street’s view of the legal industry.

Writing

  • CopyBlogger —Developing marketing copy that leads to conversions. Translation: Writing so well and persuasively that the incessantly-clicking, ADHD, driven-to-distraction masses will actually purchase something. If you want to see high quality persuasive writing, look no further.
  • LawProse — Bryan Garner’s blog. Provides daily usage tips for words and phrases. For aspiring snoots.
  • Legal Skills Prof Blog  — Often about general legal skills and news related to the profession, but features writing specific posts regularly.
  • Legal Writing Prof Blog  — General tips on writing from a law professor perspective. Often links to Law Review articles on writing.
  • LegalWritingPro — Ross Guberman, George Washington University Law Prof, author of Point Made. Regular articles on writing.
  • LegalWriting.net  — Wayne Scheiss, Texas School of Law professor and author of four books on legal writing. Posts sporadically, but always good reading.
  • Manage Your Writing — Ken Davis, former English prof turned biz writing consultant. Focused on business writing, but provides useful general
  • writing tips.
  • The Appellate Record — Kendall Gray, Texas appellate lawyer. Often focused on Texas, but regularly provides insights on appellate writing.
  • The (new) Legal Writer  — Raymond Ward, Louisiana appellate lawyer. Posts infrequently, but always good advice.

Criminal Law

  • A Public Defender  – Opinion on the criminal law system from an anonymous public defender.
  • Defending People – Mark Bennett on the tao of criminal-defense trial lawyering.
  • Simple Justice - Scott Greenfield pontificates on crime, blawgs, the legal industry, or whatever else floats his boat that morning. Prolific and always worth reading.
  • The Agitator – Radley Balko’s continuing crusade at uncovering overreach of the government in the areas of civil liberties and the criminal justice system.
  • The Criminal Lawyer – When Nathan Burney is not too busy churning out funny and informative legal comics at www.lawcomic.net, he shares his views on criminal law here.
  • Unwashed Advocate - Eric Mayer generally discusses military criminal law issues but also veers into Bat Country.

Other Resources

  • Every year the Yale Law School Career Development Office published numerous guides for students, covering a variety of possible legal careers. These are not 3-4 page handouts, but 50-60 pages guides on what to expect in each area of practice. Fortunately, they also publish them online.
  • JDUnderground – If you’re looking to commiserate with other new lawyers, this is a good place to do it. While the tone can generally be dour, members are often supportive of each others efforts to find their footing in the world of law practice. Special shout out to everyone there who engaged in a discussion with me on what to include in the book.
  • Reddit – the “front page of the internet” has a variety of legal communities, some good, some bad. The communities of interest to law students and lawyers are:
    • Law – Covering current developments in law and legal news.
    • Law School - Chit chat about law school and meme threads.
    • Law Firm - Discussion, issues, best practices, and support for lawyers practicing either solo or in a small firm.
    • Lawyers - Private community, invite only. Must be a lawyer to become a member. Law students and general public not allowed. Another community that helped me develop ideas of what to include in my book.

Here at Associate’s Mind, I’d suggest that you explore the Professional Development category. There are three plus years of articles there on the topic.

Finally, if you would like a a comprehensive, nuts and bolts guide on charting a course to success as a new lawyer, consider buying my book.

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About Keith Lee

I'm the founder and editor of Associate's Mind. I like to write, talk, and think about law, professional development, technology, and whatever else floats my boat. I practice law in Birmingham, AL.

7 comments

  1. A delightfully comprehensive and definitive list of resources, and then some. If it’s not on your list, it’s not worth their time.

  2. It’s not fair or appropriate to compare criminal law blogs, even if they do address broader practice and ethics issues, to deep and thoughtful blogs like the Lawyerist, where pretty much everything necessary to the practice of law can be learned without any words more than two syllables, and thus forcing anyone to endure a headache from excessive thought.

    • Well, one criminal law blog stands apart as a category unto itself, which I think is apparently clear to any lawyer who spends much time online. That being said, I’ve included it above.

  3. Thanks for the ABA Journal mention Keith.

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