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Top 10 Tips for Associates Connecting With In-House Counsel

  1. It is not how much you say – it is what you say. Good judgment is key. Be appropriately assertive – do not just speak up to show off or be heard.
  2. You do not always have to be heard "in the room" – sometimes following up privately with a client or partner after the meeting is the best route.
  3. Be responsive to your clients – this means getting to know their communication style and preferences (for example, do they prefer e-mail or phone calls? what time of day are they available?). If you cannot respond to a client for a period of time, let the client know this.
  4. It is okay to tell a client, "Let me confirm that and get back to you." Clients respect this and will be grateful you are not giving them incorrect advice.
  5. At meetings, sit up in your chair. Always look (and be) engaged. Take a seat at the table.
  6. Be proactive – discuss the next thing that needs to get done in the process.
  7. Allocate your time wisely – for example, do not turn down an invitation to a really significant event for a client, like celebrating a client's promotion.
  8. Give your client all your attention when you are meeting – try not to take other calls or e-mail while you are meeting.
  9. Associates should treat partners like their clients (and their clients like their clients).
  10. Everyone is potential business – peers at a law firm may go in-house; junior employees at a client may rise through the ranks; law school classmates may go in-house; opposing counsel may hire you; you may meet clients at CLEs. It is never too early to start developing relationships and planting seeds that will someday mature into business.