Dear Amicus Agony,
I am a fourth year PQE in a small firm which does mainly civil litigation. Recently, my partner approached me to do a trial with him where I would be first chair and conducting the trial. I did not know what to say at that very moment and agreed but now that I have had time to think about it, I do not feel confident or ready to conduct a full trial all by myself!
I have too many doubts and uncertainties about meeting my partner’s and the client’s expectations and I fear I will let the firm down by my lack of trial experience. What should I do?
Trials and tribulations
Dear Trials and tribulations,
Remember your first time attending a hearing after being called, all by yourself? I’m sure at that point you had a lot of what ifs, doubts and uncertainties. But I’m also sure after it was over, you heaved a sigh of relief and thought, “Hey I can do it! I just have to take the first step”.
This is that next “first step”. Your partner must think you capable and ready to do this after seeing your work and therefore approached you. If not, he would not think of giving you this opportunity to grow and learn.
As you prepare for trial, have those discussions about your uncertainties with your partner and how he can assist you during trial. With his experience, he can give you his insights and share with you what to expect.
Being prepared and knowing your case theory and trial process is half the battle won. And whatever the outcome, after it is over, you can heave that sigh of relief and know you have done it.
All the best!
Dear Amicus Agony,
I am a second year associate in a medium size firm and have been considering leaving and moving to another firm for quite some time. I feel like I am burning out and I’m unable to work effectively with my partners anymore. However, I am in a stable, highly reputable firm and despite the heavy workload, my colleagues are friendly and there is no office politics whatsoever.
Furthermore, I do not know if the next firm I end up in could be worse than the last. Should I stay and risk burning out, or take my chances somewhere else with hopefully a change of scenery and pace?
One foot out the door
Dear One foot out the door,
Before throwing in your letter, have you considered taking a short break just to stand back and breathe a little? Spending some time apart and away from work could do you wonders. Unfortunately, burn out is a very real risk for young lawyers (and mid-tier lawyers as well) and the last thing you want to do is make a hasty career decision as you seem to have a friendly work environment.
Other things you can do to cope besides taking a short break are meditating, exercising such as yoga, drinking lots of water and having healthy meals. Oftentimes, when we are rushing to meet deadlines and stressing, we forget to take care of ourselves and then spiral into eating fast food, keeping late nights and having too much caffeine or sugar and falling sick constantly.
Do also have a chat with your partner to see how you can better manage your work load and productivity without compromising your well-being and mental health. If work is getting to be too much, do not be afraid to let your partner know that there is too much on your plate as this will affect the quality of your work in the long run.
Keep going and remember to drink water!