The New Associate's Survival Guide

Starting a professional career can be a daunting experience for even the most confident law school graduates. Here, attorneys share several ways for newly minted associates to not only survive those first few months and years at their new firms, but also thrive.

Throw Yourself Into Your Practice

Associates need to take ownership of their careers the moment they walk through the doors of their new firms, attorneys say.

That means going the extra mile to learn about the industries they're representing or the laws and regulations that guide their practice areas, said Greenberg Traurig LLP shareholder Michael Aguirre, who helps recruit and guide new associates at the firm's Phoenix office.

"You'll do that in the projects you're assigned, but to the extent you're reading journals that might have information about what you're doing, you're doing a really deep dive," Aguirre said. "The more skills and knowledge base you build as a young attorney will better suit you as you develop your practice."


Many law firms will assign senior lawyers to mentor new associates, but attorneys say some of the most invaluable relationships are sparked when associates on their own find people at their firms who are willing to help them.

It's critical to find senior attorneys who are willing to mentor and teach, not just assign projects, according to Aguirre.

"There are so many things to navigate as a young associate," Aguirre said. "It's not just about the project that's in front of you, it's also about interacting with other attorneys and clients. You have to really learn from the people who have already done it."

Continue Reading (subscription required).