Five Things New Lawyers Actually Do

If you ask a new associate what he or she actually does all day, you will undoubtedly hear a list of convoluted and exaggerated activities (lies) that only pretend to paint the bigger picture. What new lawyers actually do is not all that complicated, and almost any literate jack-ass can be an associate attorney if he has access to a computer and/or a ride to a place that does. Here are five examples of what a new lawyer actually spends time doing everyday.

1Googling Opposing Counsel. As a young lawyer, I always find myself wondering who is this other attorney I am dealing with exactly? (He sounds like a real knob-job on the phone)? How long have they been practicing (hopefully not longer than me)? Where did they go to law school (the shittier the better)? What do they look like (I hope her firm’s website has pictures)? Lawyers like to know everything about opposing counsel before actually meeting them, in order to gauge a level of pre-conceived hatred and/or sexual attraction.

2Cutting and Pasting. Lawyers are essentially pen-pals with other lawyers in a legalized extortion plot (the extortee is the Defendant, who ultimately pays everybody at the extortion-party; including their own lawyer). We write the same letter, or the same Motion, or the same threatening ransom-ish demand hundreds of times. There is no sense in re-inventing the wheel here (or is it re-inventing the penis?), so we simply cut and paste to maximize efficiency/minimize effort.

3Proof-Reading. When you are having to cut and paste the same documents hundreds of times, you are liable to make mistakes; as each document obviously has specific information that is not related to the present action (there is more than one kind of legalized extortion plot, you know). Since typos are inevitable, lawyers spend a great deal of time scouring the document for incorrect information, improper possessives, and wrong pronouns. The trick to avoiding such errors is to make each and every document as detail-free as possible, or run the risk of missing something when you cut/paste it the next time. Proof-reading is of high importance, since EVERY lawyer loves to revel in the typos of others, to assure themselves they are not the only asshat out there cutting and pasting.

4Staring Out the Window. Young lawyers lucky enough to have a window usually spend a great deal of time staring out the window at all the people passing by below, and think to themselves: a) Where is that person going with that smile on their face?; b) Why aren’t they at work?; c) How long does their boss unchain them from their desk for that leisurely smile-break?; d) Is the chain at their desk more comfortable than mine?; e) She looks like she is going to the park for a run, does she even have a job?; and f) or maybe she avoided the mistake of incurring debt only to enter into a dead-end career choice of cutting/pasting/proofreading?

5Calling Clients Back. Lawyers are bombarded with phone calls from clients on a daily basis. A great deal of effort is spent avoiding these calls, since most of the calls are requesting some form of an update on the case. So, before a lawyer can call the client back, they actually need to pull the file and do something (anything) on the file—so they have some sort of update to provide the client. Of course, once the client is updated, the lawyer will wait for the next call back before they do anything further with the file.

Aside from hiding in the bathroom to calm a panic attack, this is pretty much all a young lawyer does. Am I right? Please discuss.

Post image courtesy of Shutterstock.

  • New Lawyer X

    Don’t forget billing while browsing twitter.

  • Illegal Blonde

    I would agree with most of these points except phone calls. Do you honestly think any partner would let me talk to let alone see a client? I mean I could quite possibly screw up an entire case by saying hello, right? And googling opposing counsel is left to people who actually have opposing counsel, which means they have an actual case load and not just random assignments. But this is just my humble opinion as a first year.

  • Frank

    Dont forget humping the paralegals.

  • EllaElla

    What the hell does “re-inventing [sic] the penis” mean? Seriously.

    • asdf

      I believe the “penis” is metaphorical and tasked with “fucking” the defendant, metaphorically of course.

  • Avocats

    Big law firms are on high floors, so that you never get to relate to individual passersby as described. You see specks and other buildings, and major geographical features. I used to say that I had a great view from my office–from Malibu to Catalina–but it was seven days a week. Seldom if ever got to go to Malibu or Catalina. . . .

  • Dawn

    Personally, I seem to spend a lot of time reading and organizing the other lawyer’s messes of files and currently googling antiques and boats and other vehicles. Not to mention wondering why I had to go to law school since I already knew how to use Kelley Blue Book and Google and sort shit.

    • Mike


  • Effie

    I’m seriously considering stopping law school after 1L and just remaining a paralegal. Based on this list (and other items on this blog) senior paras know more and do more work than most first-year associates.

  • Jon

    In my experience, having been a member of the bar for a year in an economy with thousands of new lawyers, most new lawyers spend most of their time finding a job or finding one that pays better than the first one they found just out of school.

  • PK

    This article missed the most important function of a new associate: staring up at the undercarriage of a bus. Get used to it.

    • John Byrnes


  • http://n/a Mike

    Being a lawyer is awesome! I borrowed 85K and threw in 10K of my own, to get a sweet starting gig paying 42k a year! At my first job, I got good courtroom experience, a BV rating from opposing counsel, and no better job offers. So, I moved to my second job, where, with lots of trial experience (and some transactional), I spend my days filing, requesting records, organizing records, doing very simple motions, and attending Court on a once monthly basis. On the upside, I do not work nights and weekends. On the downside, many of the people working at my office are paid close to minimum wage and the emphasis is on getting the easy buck, rather than doing a good job. I doubt I’ll miss law once I start medical school. It will be tough walking away from a moderate salary after 7 years of practice……. but I just don’t have 30 years of this garbage in me.

    • http://n/a Mike

      oh, I almost forgot, I scored in the top 10% on the LSAT, and graduated from a respectable mid range school, with a 3.25 GPA

  • Happy

    Well at least you should be able to snatch some better pussy than you ever could with a BA degree!