Whether you have years of experience under your belt or are brand new to law firms, transitioning into a new work environment can be challenging. Every law firm has its own unique culture.
Here are some tips to help ensure a smooth transition:
1) Measure the formality of your environment. Take the first 30 days to really observe the culture of your firm and notice the subtle differences. For example, what is the dress code? How do team members interact with the lawyers? Identifying these “unwritten rules” will help you adapt more easily and make the transition smoother. This awareness can also help you “hit the ground running” and become a valuable team member faster.
2) Understand the best methods for communicating in this unique work environment. Pay attention and identify whether your “internal clients” prefer email, phone or in-person conversation. Keep in mind that your supervisor may like in-person updates, while the Marketing Partner prefers written status reports. Gauging your audience and communicating with them in the way that “speaks to them” is key.
3) Know your firm. Successful recruiters and marketers are those who know what they are selling. They know and can articulate what distinguishes their firm from its competitors. Be very familiar with the content and messages on the Firm website, brochure, NALP form and employee handbook.
4) Use your resources. Find some well-informed peers and ask them for the inside scoop on work styles and personalities of those you will work for. I am still very grateful to my first law firm manager who sat me down my first week and went through the phone list providing me with insights on how to approach each Partner (and which ones to avoid, if possible!). Get to know one person in each service department (accounting, facilities, HR, etc.). You will need help from these people; establish the relationship before you need them.
5) Ask thoughtful questions. Every culture has its own rules. Even if know how to do your job, the key to making a successful transition is learning the “processes” required in this new work environment. So step back frequently and ask questions to make sure you understand how to deliver the work in a way that will resonate with your new colleagues, bosses and clients.