Skip to main content area Skip to main content area Skip to institutional navigation Skip to search Skip to section navigation

Tips from COP: Making the Most of your Summer

April 24, 2019

Tips from the Center on Professionalism (COP)


  • Practice client service and business development: View everyone to whom you provide service as your client, even if they are members of your own organization. This may include supervising attorneys, peers and other team members and the service may be as simple as a legal memo or draft email to a client. Pay close attention to the feedback you receive, retaining practices that pleased these clients and eliminating or refining practices the client suggested needed improvement. Providing excellent customer service will endear you to these clients, generating more assignments and client service opportunities and increasing the value you add to the organization.
  • Identify and engage with effective mentors: Search for strong mentors by engaging in self-reflection and determining which qualities you hope to develop as an attorney, such as strong advocacy skills, effective oral communication, business development prowess, and/or research, writing or technical drafting skills. Identify the practitioners in your organization who excel at those skills and be proactive about engaging with them.  Volunteer to work on assignments for them, seek out opportunities to observe their practice or simply ask them for a few moments (at their convenience) to discuss their career evolution and request advice for your own career.  Always remember to follow up by thanking them for their time and expressing your desire to stay in touch with them in the future.
  • Exude calm, confidence and organization to earn the professional trust of others
  • Communicate clearly about deadlines and tasks: In a professional setting, unexpected deadline changes can affect many people.  When you receive an assignment, get clarity on exactly when the supervising attorney would like you to complete the assignment.  If the deadline is vague, tell the supervisor when you expect to be able to complete the task.  Be realistic in setting your own deadlines. If you encounter unexpected issues and the task completion may exceed your promised deadline, be sure to communicate with the supervisor as soon as possible and offer a thorough revised plan and firm new deadline.  Even if you were unable to meet the original deadline, convey that you understand that requesting a change in deadline is a serious matter and that you have developed a concrete plan to complete the task by the new deadline.
  • Take ownership of your work: Even if your work is affected by a problem that results from something outside of your control (a computer problem, a colleague, another team member, a personal issue, etc.) take ownership of the problem and communicate how you plan to correct it.  Never blame someone else! Instead, develop a plan to correct the issue and move forward toward the goal. You will earn respect from others by taking responsibility for anything that happens relating to your assignments.