A Day In The Life Of A First Year Associate
Joining a law firm can involve exacting work; provide the opportunity for growth, experience and above all - a great salary. Long-term prospects culminate in the position of Equity Partner, but also provide the opportunity to break away and start shop on one’s own. We will now look at the typical day in the life of a junior associate in the average law firm, which you will experience in the first 6 months to 1 year of your employment.
The day starts at around 9:30, and no later than 10:00. Work begins with the checking of emails, sending off any pending mails, organising work for the day and preparing a meeting cum work schedule for the partner you are working with. At around 10:30 the partner calls you in, and the next half hour is spent briefing him on any unfinished business, upcoming meetings and the day’s schedule. These include pre-meeting reviews where the deliverables are identified and documents revised.
At 11:00 the client meetings begin, to which you will accompany the partner wearing your best suit. During the meeting you are not expected to make your presence felt unless specifically called upon by the partner, and hence you can sip coffee and devour biscuits and pray that the partner doesn’t make too many commitments on your behalf. After the clients leave, there is a follow up session with the partner where the entire meeting is reviewed, so don’t dream away all your time. After the meetings, which could take upto two hours depending on the number of meetings and the type of client, you head back to the office to prepare a report of the meeting, and speak to other clients to fix further meetings.
Lunch is at 13:30. The entire office gathers together and makes this single hour truly enjoyable. Many firms have an in house cook, but employees are free to bring their own food or order, whichever suits them best. The entire atmosphere is informal, and after the lunch hour there is a short smoking break for the smokers up on the terrace or outside the building. The best thing about this period is that the office hierarchy, which is so rigid during other parts of the day, does not exist then. But at times, this fun time can be taken away when you have to meet a client on a luncheon meeting.
At 15:00 most of the post lunch meetings begin. Many of these are conducted through video conferencing or a conference call, to enable easy communication with clients in the UK, bankers in Hong Kong and their lawyers based in some other part of the world. New transactions are discussed and strategies for collaboration are devised.
At 17:00 you meet with another partner to brief him on some other pending issue, or provide a research opinion on a foreign investment transaction. All the relevant research material must be handy and after the meeting you return to the office to incorporate all the material into the office files.
At 19:30 you conduct another conference call with a new client in the US and listen to their brief about their transaction, as this is a first time interaction. They want to set up a financial services company in India, and hence you commit to sending them a detailed written report on this in a few days, which contains cutting edge legal advice on how to set up shop in India.
Come 21:00 and it is dinnertime. To pacify the stomach rumblings you order food with a vengeance, especially since it is going to be a long night ahead. Since most of the office is still in, time will be spent in cheerful banter, which serves to relax the body and mind a good deal.
An hour later you get back to work. Drafting of a Joint Venture Agreement that will hit the media headlines within the next week must be done with great attention and care. Following time would be spent in finishing all the other work that the partner has engaged on your behalf apart from planning for the next day.
By 00:00 you are done, and after mailing the work to the client or partner for review you head back home in the office taxi.
As you can see, the work in Law Firms is long, hard and demanding, but the reward at the end of it are considerable. You get to do a lot of high profile work, meet with the biggest names in the corporate world, be part of cutting edge legal processes and finally gain a lot of respect from the people around you. The starting pay ranges from 40k – 70k per month, and can rise sharply according to the firm. The position is one of great responsibility and excellence is amply rewarded.