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The Be-Attitudes of Associate Survival

By Rob Depew, Managing Director, Major Lindsey Africa


If you feel vulnerable given the tragic and shocking law firm layoffs over the past few months, here are a few tips for how to make yourself more valuable, and hopefully indispensable to your firm.

  • Be Professional – Law firms want to keep skilled, promising lawyers on their payroll. If your firm or practice group is not performing well, and is forced to lay off lawyers, work quality will be used to help determine who stays employed and who is let go. So make sure your work is client ready and top quality.
  • Be Productive - Law firms value sheer unadulterated toil. So take any paying work you can. In the absence of billable work, research and analyze a new law, or learn all you can about a developing or emerging area of the law so that everyone turns to you for guidance. Pro bono work is a fantastic way to develop critical legal skills and, at the same time, give back to your community, something many firms now encourage.
  • Be Nice – Be likeable and treat everyone in the firm with respect.  Showing that you know how to treat others with kindness will be a major advantage in your career.  Plus, you never know what role someone might play in your future.
  • Be Positive - Everybody knows these are challenging times, but running around claiming the sky is falling will not help you or those around you. Be realistic, but positive.  Stay away from the whiners and definitely don’t be one yourself.

These tips will help you hold onto your current job, and better still, they will increase your chances for making partner, build your reputation for advancement and future lateral moves, and help win you clients.


Rob Depew is a managing director in Major Lindsey Africa's San Francisco office. Before joining MLA, he was a labor and employment associate at Hanson Bridgett and then Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP. He earned his JD from University of California Hastings.  He can be reached at