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JULY 2013 NEWSLETTER - Young Lawyers
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Young Lawyers Section's Event - Practical Skills for the New Lawyer: What You Need to Know to Succeed as an Associate

 By Julie Stromberg

The Young Lawyers Section’s “Practical Skills for the New Lawyer: What You Need to Know to Succeed as an Associate,” was captivating from beginning to end.   On June 11, 2013, approximately 50 new lawyers and guests attended the Young Lawyers Section’s final event of the year at K&L Gates LLP’s Century City office. The exciting MCLE event kicked off with an engaging lecture by Exec Comm LLC’s Communications Expert, Beth Bailey.  Ms. Bailey’s lecture taught attendees how to identify their unique, individual communications styles and how to leverage them to maximize their practical and productive impacts.  According to Sarah Schuh, Senior Attorney with the Federal Government and Young Lawyers Section Committee Member, “Ms. Bailey emphasized that all communication styles contribute to a more productive work environment.  The examples resonated with me and taught me to appreciate each communication style rather than find differing communication styles to be at odds.” Strong communication skills are keys to success in any profession, but especially in the legal profession.  As a result of Ms. Bailey’s lecture, attendees were able to learn how to develop better communication skills and, as Ms. Schuh explained, use them in a more cooperative and productive manner.

Following Ms. Bailey’s presentation, a panel of four prominent Los Angeles litigation and transactional partners from top national and international law firms candidly revealed their “Pet Peeves” and other insights regarding what new attorneys can do to maximize their success as new associates.  Moderator Tanya Forsheit, founding partner of Info Law Group LLP and former partner with Proskauer Rose, led the high-powered panel, which included: Katherine Blair, managing partner of K&L Gates LLP’s corporate practice in Los Angeles; Melanie M. Blunschi, litigation partner at Latham & Watkins LLP; Meryl K. Chae, partner and leader of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP’s Los Angeles real estate practice and one of the leaders of Skadden’s REIT practice; and Mary Craig Calkins, partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP.  Significant take-aways from the panel discussion include:

  • Learn how to describe your billing based on your supervising billing partner’s and client’s specifications.
  • Be sure to ask questions throughout the process, in both transactional and litigation matters.
  • If you choose to embark on the social media wave, be conscious that your personal and professional lives may collide.
  • Partners are very busy and are inundated with emails on a daily basis. Therefore, if you need an immediate response from a partner, consider sending an email with an attention-grabbing subject line.  Or, pick up the phone and call the partner!
  • Long emails are a common partner pet peeve. Consider sending succinct emails or use bullet points to shorten your email without sacrificing important points.
  • Consider “thinking outside of the box.” For example, if you are assigned a research task and are unable to find a case or statute on point, look for alternative arguments or cases and statutes that may help your argument “persuasively.”
  • Be productive with your billable time.


Overall, the program was a success and attendees were able to gain invaluable insider’s points on how to maximize their success as associates. Alexis Endsley, Senior Associate at Wood, Smith, Henning, and Berman LLP, stated, “I really enjoyed the program, and thought it was beneficial for new associates and more senior associates alike.  I appreciated learning about the impact of different communication styles in getting one's message across, with both partners and clients.”  Based on the overall positive response regarding the program, the Young Lawyers Section will consider repeating this event in the future. The success of the event would not have been possible without the help and insight of our amazing moderator and speakers. In addition, the support from the following sponsors was also invaluable: Exec Comm LLC; K&L Gates LLP; Seltzer Fontaine Beckwith (a legal search firm); and Veritext LLC. 

Julie Stromberg is co-chair of WLALA's Young Lawyers Section.