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The In Crowd

As a mature and educated law student, you may have assumed that you no longer need to worry about fitting in and making sure that your peers accept you. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but  these things did not end with graduation from high school. The importance of fitting into your future workplace is almost as critical to your career as consistently producing quality work.

I will be the first one to admit that fitting in is a very nebulous concept and can vary greatly depending on the workplace (i.e., large firm, small firm, non-profit, corporation, government, judicial chambers, etc.). Only after assisting with on-campus and call-back interviews for my firm this past August did I gain a really clear understanding of how important fitting in still is as an attorney. Assuming that grades and experiences were fine, the most consistent feedback I  heard from other attorneys included “I just don’t see the person being here,” “I couldn’t imagine working with him/her on a daily basis,” or “I don’t think that (s)he would be a good fit.”

We all know that lawyers – especially young lawyers – work long hours. Between due diligence assignments, negotiations for closing a deal, and trial preparation we spend a lot of time with our colleagues. Basically, the bottom line is that during these long hours people want to be around other people with whom they share some fundamental traits. I am not talking about being clones of one another but simply having a commonality that allows the workplace to be comfortable and somewhat predictable. This commonality is essential as it establishes a set of expectations for both the employees and clients.

Therefore, my advice as you continue to move into the legal profession is to really analyze yourself, especially if you aren’t getting the job offers, assignments, or promotions that you are seeking. Then observe those around you, particularly the individuals who have already achieved what you are aiming for. These two simple things may lead to a truly eye-opening revelation for you!

About the Author

Earthen E. Johnson earned her J.D. from the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University and received her B.A. in history and American studies from the University of Virginia. Between college and law school, Earthen taught third grade in Camden, NJ through Teach For America and then led an educational non-profit organization in Philadelphia.

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