Denver Bar Association
March 2002
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The 4-1-1 of Office Survival

Letter to the Editor:

I really enjoyed your article. I think everyone would agree that every firm has its secret or "unspoken" rules and expectations. It still amazes me that some attorneys don’t seem to get it. That’s not to say that in my 12+ years of practicing law, I haven’t broken some of those rules (but I was still young, and I have learned).

Here’s a couple that I've noted over the years:

1) Associates should NEVER leave work before the partners do, especially in small or medium size firms. Partners notice when you’re gone or generally not around. If you have to leave early (for child care etc) then be sure to COME IN early, and make a point of BEING SEEN by as many partners as possible.

2) Associates should stick around until at least 5 p.m. on Fridays. It won’t kill you, I promise.

3) Associates should not expect to be mentored or trained, even if they’re told that they will be in the interviewing process. If you want to learn how to practice law, you need to be pro-active. Go to CLEs, cover depositions where there may be co-counsel, and take that opportunity to watch and learn. Agree to attend trial with a senior attorney and not bill for your time. Constantly ask for more work, and be willing, at least in the beginning, to do the stuff nobody else wants to do.

4) As for the female associate regarding business casual: Dockers are extremely comfortable. When I struggled as a female associate with various dress code issues, I decided to go out and buy some Dockers and golf shirts of my own. Get them from the men’s department; they have a wide variety of sizes and colors, and they just hold up better!


The Docket wants to hear from you! If you have secret rules or unspoken gems at your office or firm, we want to let our readers know. Please e-mail

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