You're Working Hard. But Are You Working Smart?

If you're like most associates in BigLaw, you're working hard—billing hefty hours, burning the midnight oil, and working weekends. It's natural to think that toiling tirelessly and getting "great experience" is unequivocally helpful to your career. But does quantity of work translate to quality or to desired opportunities in future? Not necessarily. Just as important as working hard—if not more so—is working smart. What does this mean?

Let's Talk Taxes

If you received a tax refund this year, congratulations! If you owed money (like me), there are a few things that will help avoid this next year (assuming you want a refund).

What Should I Be Thinking About Before the Next Economic Downturn?

While the M&A and finance markets continue to boom and demand for transactional associates remains strong, at some point this prolonged economic upturn will come to an end.  We are already seeing an uptick in hiring for restructuring associates and partners.  While we are not sounding any alarms yet, it is a good time to think about how the next economic slowdown will impact your career and what you should be doing now to best prepare yourself. 

Does Closing Your Door Send the Wrong Message?

The halls of law firms can sometimes feel like college dorms – people chatting in doorways, laughing loudly in clusters or shouting something down the hall.  If you are under pressure to turn a document or finish a memo, you’re likely to close your door to block out such external noise and for good reason. Who needs that distraction when you’re under the gun?  But keeping you door closed beyond crunch time has both intended and unintended consequences and you should be aware of both before giving that door a shove

SJL Talk: How to Stand Out as a Star Associate

Welcome to SJL Talk. We know you're billing by the hour, so let's be brief. Today, we'll be speaking with Victoria Shin, a Managing Director with SJL Attorney Search. Victoria will be talking about the critical things you should be doing to distinguish yourself and stand out as a star associate. 

SJL Talk: Is Your Current Firm the Right Firm?

Welcome to SJL Talk. We know you're billing by the hour, so let's be brief. Today, we'll be speaking with Lauren Sugarman, a Managing Director with SJL Attorney Search, who will discuss if your current firm is the right firm for you.

Getting Down To Basics – So I’m A Real Estate Attorney…

Real estate can be a professionally smart career focus for several reasons.  Because it is a niche practice, attorneys feel they can get their arms around the law and become an expert in the field at a faster pace than in other practice areas.  At the same time, it can involve a wide range of sub-areas (finance, development, acquisitions, zoning, leasing, residential), which keeps attorneys interested and feeling challenged, with potential to develop a broad skill set.  On a practical level, real estate attorneys have a greater ability to relocate, unlike some areas of law that are more geographic-centric.    And most real estate practices are lean groups within law firms and, even when they are not, real estate transactions tend to be leanly-staffed, affording attorneys more opportunity to learn and gain substantive experience early on. 

What Happens When My Career Plan Is Really An Excuse?

As a former Biglaw associate turned legal recruiter, I feel déjà vu on a daily basis. Associates will confidently tell me their plan or timeline to prove that they don’t need to speak with a recruiter about their career, or that I can try them back in “like a year or two.” Their way of thinking always hits close to home because I used these excuses too. I now understand how detrimental those excuses can be for your career. So, I decided to write this “Excuse Series” to expose the most common excuses I hear, explain the fallout of relying on each excuse, and motivate you to evaluate your career path now, so you can make informed decisions about your future.

How Can Mindfulness Benefit Me as an Attorney?

We live in an age in which the concept of "mindfulness" is ubiquitous. Psychology Today explains "mindfulness" as: "[A] a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future." 

Thinking about In-house? Here’s a Road Map

“In-house” is a catch-all phrase that commonly refers to all non-law firm legal roles. With that phrase in mind, I wanted to provide an overview about not only the most prevalent in-house positions but also the most desirable experience.

I Love My Job, But Can I Get My Life Back?

There are innumerable benefits to working in Big Law, but for all those benefits there is usually a price as well.  Is it truly possible to create balance in your life and still reap all the benefits Big Law offers?  

My Rotation is Over – Now What?

Completing the rotation system/unassigned period is one of the most important milestones for young lawyers as the decision about which group to join will have long-term implications for their career. While there is no right or wrong answer, these decisions should be made carefully and with the necessary forethought on your part.

The Inside Scoop on Client Secondments

In the legal industry, a client secondment usually refers to the “lending” of a law firm associate to one of the firm’s clients for a finite period of time. Generally, the secondment comes about when a client makes a request of the partner with whom they have a relationship. 

Succeeding In A Free Market System

A free market system is one in which associates have control over the projects and assignments they take on. This stands in contrast to those systems in which an assigning partner or practice group manager distributes incoming work. 

SJL Talk: Ep. 1

Welcome to SJL Talk.  We know you're billing by the hour, so we'll keep it brief.  Today, Senior Managing Director Elizabeth Lazzara Smith talks annual career self-evaluations, and thinking about your career in terms of the past, the present and the future.