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SJL Talk: How to Stand Out as a Star Associate

SJL Talk: How to Stand Out as a Star Associate

Victoria S. Shin, Esq.
Managing Director
t. 212.897.0995
victoria.shin@sjlsearch.com
website bio

How to Stand Out as a Star Associate Transcript

My name is Victoria Shin, Managing Director with SJL Attorney Search. Today I'm talking about being a Star Associate.

What's a Star Associate?

You know who they are: The associates with the glowing reviews. 
The "go-to" associates in the group who get first dibs on choice work. 
They're the ones the partners proudly introduce to clients at events. 
In short: they're the prized associates who, it seems, can do no wrong. Granted, not everyone aspires to be a Star Associate. 
And you certainly can have a solid career without being a Star Associate. 
But here are some things to consider …..

What are the benefits to being a Star Associate?

  • First: They get the best work. More work, yes. But that also means they get the best training. Why does this matter? Think about it this way: You chose this path. Make the most of it. And in doing so, you'll open the best possibilities in the future.
  • Second: Only Star Associates can become partner or counsel…. Okay…. Maybe you don't want to be a partner. Still, why not be valued enough to be seen as partner material? At the very least, being well-regarded brings job security. Also, partners are more likely to introduce their best associates to clients. And those contacts can prove invaluable in the future.
  • Third: If work-life balance is important to you, well - Star associates are in a better position to negotiate reduced schedules and other accommodations, such as working from home regularly. A base of trust and confidence gives you leverage.
  • Fourth : When you're a Star Associate, you can feel good about being respected and knowing you're valued. And this, in turn, can boost your job satisfaction and the pride you take in your career. So now that we've covered some of the benefits to being a Star Associate, let's turn to:

How to Be a Star Associate?

  • First: Have a good attitude - a positive and passionate attitude goes a long way!
  • Second: Know who your clients are and provide them with the best service. So who are your clients? First and foremost: the partners and senior attorneys. Secondly, the paying client. Why is this? For junior and mid-level associates, the focus is not building a book of business. It's building your professional brand. And that starts with your colleagues. 

In talking about "best service", what does that mean?

  • Here are some key components:
    • First - Conscientious quality in work product. Take ownership of your work and do the best you can.
    • Second – Responsiveness. Now this isn't simply responding to an email asap. It's about keeping people informed and managing expectations. Don't overpromise. And don't under deliver. 
    • Third – Proactive contribution: Make an effort to anticipate issues and identify potential problems. This reflects engagement and attention to details that make a great impression.
    • Fourth – If you don't know, ask. This can be intimidating to junior associates. But…you're far better off getting guidance on what to do and what's expected. Unforced errors will not benefit you.

One last quality of a Star Associate: to the extent possible: Don't say "no" to work. Of course, sometimes it's simply not possible to take on more work. But if you make an effort build a base of credibility and a reputation for hard work, a diplomatic "no" won't be an issue. The danger of frequently turning down work is that, eventually, the work will stop coming to you, and that would not be a good situation. If you demonstrate your commitment to hard work, that won't be a concern. So that, in a nutshell, covers the basics of being a Star Associate. You chose this career and you worked incredibly hard to get to where you are. Why not make the most of it and be the best attorney you can be? By choosing to become a Star Associate, you'll be a happier associate and the best opportunities will come your way.
 

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