By Martin O'Sullivan
Associates, essential to any law firm's backbone, are often faced with a daunting workload. Time management is essential to the role, but many associates spend precious moments on tasks that advance neither their career nor the firm's goals, experts say.
Even the most well-meaning associates can make the wrong call and spend their time on pointless tasks in and out of the office, affecting the way they are perceived by partners and clients. Associates should make every second count and become indispensable to their firm by considering the importance and best execution of each undertaking, according to experts.
Here are some of the wastes of time associates should avoid.
Failing to Understand the Task
With a steady to-do list, it can be tempting for an associate to dive headfirst into a freshly assigned project to get as far ahead as possible. However, associates should first make sure that they fully understand what they are attempting to learn or accomplish, according to experts.
Jennifer D. Henderson, the managing director of Major, Lindsey & Africa LLC's southern California office, said that an associate should always take a few minutes before getting starting to clarify their work assignment to avoid losing hours later.
"It's a waste of time to try and figure out what you’re supposed to be doing on your own without taking steps to clarify," Henderson said. "Time is of the essence — you should just ask and get all the necessary information."
An associate can waste hours researching the wrong subject if they doesn't understand exactly what to look for, which is bad for business, Henderson added.
"You've wasted all that time and billed all those hours that the partner is going to write off," she said. "It's not going to be in the memo, it's not going to be in the brief, it's not what the client needs to know."
Read more of this feature at Law360.