- How do I transition from law school to law practice?
- How do I get a job?
- How can I find like-minded mentors and colleagues?
- How do I develop a book of business?
- How do I become a better lawyer?
If you are asking yourself these questions, then you’ve come to the right place.
Associate’s Mind Helps You Improve Your Professional and Personal Life
It’s been said that, “An amateur practices something until he gets it right, a professional practices until he can’t get it wrong.” Associate’s Mind is about making that transition from amateur to professional.
Here’s the deal…
The entire legal industry is in a state of flux. Legal work is being automated, down-sized, and outsourced. The amount of work is shrinking as well. Clients have become more intelligent and scrutinizing. Corporate work is being moved in-house. Contract attorneys are on the rise. People are turning to LegalZoom and Rocketlawyer instead of a local lawyer for “routine” work.
At the same time law schools are flooding the legal job market with a glut of new lawyers. The majority of whom are unequipped, uninformed, and untrained to deal with the realities of the current legal environment. It’s quite possible that you’re one of them.
The problem is that law schools teach students how to think like lawyers, but not how to practice like lawyers. They have been miserable at properly preparing their graduates to function as useful attorneys after graduation. In the past, law firms and clients were the ones left footing the bill to train new lawyers – but no longer. Now law firms and clients expect new lawyers to be able to hit the ground running. Especially considering that with the oversupply of lawyers available, it is easier than ever for law firms to pick up experienced lawyers for low rates. As such, many new lawyers are left without guidance or direction. This is even more true than it was when I graduated from law school in 2010.
Bottom Line: If you want to become a successful new lawyer, you must dedicate yourself to systematic, continuous improvement.
Associate’s Mind is here to help you with that goal. The first step? Subscribe to Associate’s Mind (it’s free) and you’ll get news and commentary on the legal industry, professional development strategies and tactics, technical how-to’s and guides, and more. You can also pick up a copy of my book, which provides an overarching blueprint for transitioning from law school to law practice.
The Origin of “Associate’s Mind”
Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning Beginner’s Mind. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts.
Although frequently people speak of always thinking like a “partner” or “partner-level” thinking when in regards to how one should should conduct oneself inside a firm - reject the notion. Just as in the mind of the master there are few possibilities and in the Beginner’s mind, infinite – most partners have fixed ways of thinking and conducting their practice and processes.
An Associate’s Mind should be flexible and open to new ideas and processes, while being mindful of the guidance of those who have tread the road before him.
Who Am I?
My name is Keith Lee. I’m a lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama. Yes, we have lawyers AND in-door plumbing; it’s amazing.
I started law school in 2007, attending classes in the evening because I knew I needed an edge. Four months into it I interviewed for a job as a clerk at an insurance defense firm. Despite the competition, I got the job. In short order I was working 40 to 50 hours a week. Yet I soon found out “clerk” meant clerk/associate/assistant/ paralegal/runner/marketer/web designer and more.
Then while I was a 2L – my wife and I had our son. Even more responsibilities piled on. But then: graduation, the Bar, passing, catharsis. A year employed as an associate. Then downsized, let go, good bye. Despite years of “sweat equity,” I was the bottom man on the totem pole, so I went on the chopping block.
Cast off, adrift, I connected back with two lawyers I went to school with. We set up shop in an old building downtown. Busted our tails. Invested in our community. Grew our practice. It hasn’t been easy.
But I prefer the hard way.