Fourth, I paid attention to every detail I could while working on my cases. I found that one of the most ironic facets of the law is that the correct answer to a problem often rests on small legal nuances and factual details. The presence or absence of a particular fact can frequently make or break the case. The senior attorney I worked for, Brad, was extremely adept at assimilating large amounts of information quickly, paying close attention to details and using his mastery of them to weave brilliant defenses. His ability to identify the most critical of details while constructing solid defenses always impressed me and I tried to emulate that particular skill.Fifth, I was conscientious about creating good first impressions. As I later learned, lawyers who work with new summer and permanent associates virtually always form quick conclusions about them and give hallway evaluations to other lawyers in the firm. I often heard about or participated in these hallway evaluations and know that even one negative impression can have a devastating impact. In general, young attorneys who get a reputation for sloppy work – earned or unearned – have a very steep climb up the law firm ladder.Sixth, I was vigilant about meeting deadlines, every time. This meant I had to carefully plan ahead, since partners, colleagues, clients, courts and other parties often rely on assignments and legal services to be performed by a certain time. With the workload I had and the interruptions I faced, of course this wasn’t always possible and in those situations I found the best route wasn’t just to tough it out, but rather let the supervising attorney know as early as possible if I couldn’t meet a deadline.I learned this lesson the hard way. My first assignment as a summer associate was to research whether we could squeeze one of our clients into an exception to a well-settled legal doctrine. The senior attorney who gave me the assignment asked me to research the issue and then get back to him by Friday afternoon. I just didn’t feel comfortable with my research when Friday afternoon came around and decided to buy some additional time by letting him contact me. He didn’t try to reach me Friday afternoon, so I took advantage of that and submitted the assignment on Monday. The incident later came back to haunt me, though, because in his evaluation of my work for my midsummer review, he mentioned that I didn’t report to him by the established deadline.'s Largest, Most Prestigious Law Firms
WIlliam R. Keates