Thursday, April 4, 2013

Required Practical Skills for Young Associates


by Sybil Dunlop

When I first started working at a law firm, I had a misplaced desire to own 100% of my projects. Instead of delegating letterhead printing and exhibit pdfing to a legal administrative assistant, I would muddle through these tasks on my own. This hoarding was silly, and I have since learned the benefits of delegating.

That said, sometimes you may find yourself at the office on a weekend undertaking an emergency TRO or filing something at 11:00 PM. At these moments, it’s important that SOMEONE know how to pdf a document or even file electronically. (I know, I know, some of you at super large firms have access to a 2:00 AM person who can undertake these tasks such that you will never need to lift a finger—this conversation is for the rest of us.) So what are the tasks that every newer attorney should strive to master in case of emergency?

Federal Court Filing

Since you can file until midnight, one never knows when a last minute filing could be necessary. For this reason, it is nice to know the basics of an ECF filing. Now I’m not saying that every new associate needs to learn advanced filing techniques (these would include filing items under seal and submitting huge filings with massive exhibits and attachments). For most of these filings, you will have advanced notice and can make sure the right paralegals and legal administrative assistants are on board, ready to work their magic.

That said, you might need to file an emergency letter to the court or a late-received affidavit after everyone else has gone home. If you have already received a primer on ECF filing, you will be ready to go. If you have a checklist showing items you may need for a complete filing, you’re in even better shape (did you add a word count certificate? did you need a notice of service? a proposed order?) In addition, make sure that you have your password ready to go. Nothing is worse than being ready to file and then finding that the keeper of the passwords has disappeared.

State Court Filing

Since our state court filing system closes before people leave for the day, it is less likely that a newer attorney in my state would be called upon after hours to handle a state court filing. That said, it is still a good idea to know how the system works. All you need to do is ask permission to hover behind an administrative assistant, watch a state court filing, and take notes. Again, make sure that you have access to your password.

Read the full article here.