To Grow to Be a Successful Lawyer: Understand the Assignment

It might seem obvious, but when your boss or supervisor gives you an assignment, you need to be sure that you understand that assignment. In the past I’ve made the mistake of researching a different issue from the one that my boss or client wanted. Now I’m not afraid to clarify the expectations, both at the start and as I go along.

First, I make sure that I know all of the relevant facts, the chronology, the identity of the parties, and the relationships between the parties. And I make sure that I have access to all of the relevant documents so I can verify the facts as well as understand them in more detail. Of course I need to know jurisdictional facts, such as where the case will be heard. And then I need to know whether I am to report back orally or in writing and, if in writing, whether I should write in an office-memo way or in a persuasive argument way.

As I research I may see that the relevant issue can be narrow or broad, and the law on the issue can be sparse or abundant. So it’s important to find out how deep the research should go. Should I limit myself to the narrow issue? Or should I look at side issues as well?

The other important things to know are how long I should spend on my research, and also whether there is a limit on my electronic research. And of course knowing the deadline when I must report back is essential. Sometimes my boss may want period oral updates on my progress, and other times the boss may just want the final results. Knowing this is also important

I always want to do my best and by following these steps I can give myself a good start.