Many of you are summer associates* currently half way through your summer program. Now is a great time to get feedback because attorneys have had enough time to review your performance, but you still have enough time to improve your performance.
Strategies. Some attorneys may be hesitant to offer constructive criticism. Unfortunately, many attorneys offer unconstructive criticism or say nothing at all. Here are some ways to solicit advice:
- Direct: Ask if there are any areas the attorney suggests you improve.
- Indirect: Ask an attorney about common mistakes new law students make, and consider whether the attorney’s answer relates to you.
- Subtle: Ask for tips to be more effective. This implies you are effective, but solicits suggestions for increased performance.
- Take an attorney to lunch. The relaxing environment of a restaurant will allow you to bring up the topic casually. This also has the benefit of building your relationship with the attorney.
- Choose your own medium. Decide on whether to use e-mail, a visit in the office, lunch, or another setting by considering the particular attorney’s personality as well as the environment you feel would be the most comfortable.
Why should I? Getting feedback now is important because if you don’t, you will probably continue any mistakes without knowing that the attorney is thinking about them. Your blindspots should be resolved before the attorney participates in the decision regarding whether you should be hired as a lawyer. You still have time to make improvements. Doing this also demonstrates you are teachable and responsive to those you serve.
In addition, getting feedback is good practice for life as a lawyer. Good lawyers are sensitive to their clients and identify problems before clients decide to terminate representation.
*Note: A summer associate is a law school student who works for a firm the summer after the second year of law school.