DTCI: New associates and their different work ethic

July 3, 2013
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dtci-mortimer-reneeOnce again, I have been asked to write an article on “any topic.” Last year, I told you the story of a plaintiff’s lawyer who gave me the inspiration to encourage all of you to treat each other with respect as opposed to roughness. How is that going? I hope well.

This year, I have to say, I was having trouble with the “any topic” thing again. Then, I was sitting with a group of plaintiff and defense lawyers during a break in a deposition in a particularly big case (so there were a lot of us), and the topic was new associates. One of the lawyers was complaining about “the work ethic” of associates these days, and how “no one stays late anymore.” Another lawyer was complaining about the “work product” and “Is it really that hard to get the client’s name spelled correctly when she gives me the draft of a letter to the client?” And finally another lawyer was talking about “this whole Millennial thing.” As the break ended, everyone agreed that today’s associates are far different from us “back in the day.”

Let me go on record as saying that I do not think that is such a bad thing. When I left the discussion, I was conflicted. I understood the frustration of my colleagues, but I also truly respected the choices of the new associates with whom I have dealt.

Look, I am not going to lie. When I was a new associate, I made damn sure that I was at the office before the partner. I left after he left. I gave up vacations, family events and many, many of my kids’ activities to make sure the brief was done on time and done well. The other lawyers in the break during the deposition did the same thing. I think that part of the frustration in the room was that we “older lawyers” are jealous – at least I am – of the ability of the new associate to do all the things we missed, and with lap tops, Blackberrys and so forth, still get the work done. I know our firm encourages it.

However, to the new associate, if we promise to not freak out when you are listening to your headphones when we walk in your office, and if we promise to not raise our eyebrows when you work from home, there are things we do expect from you. We have all spent a great deal of time away from our families building client relationships and attempting to separate ourselves from the stiff competition we have in other law firms, plaintiff and defense. While we get that you do not want to be at the office 24/7 (we don’t either), we do expect that when you are doing the work, you will pay attention to detail and get the client’s name spelled right. We expect that you will think things through and not do something on a case just for the sake of doing it. We promise to spend time teaching you how to work through your first year of practice, which we all know can be truly rough, if you promise to spend time trying to learn from us.

I am glad that the new associates of this generation are different. However, I challenge all associates to still get the brief done on time and well – only it is now OK to do it from the stands while you watch your kids play ball.•


Ms. Mortimer is a partner in Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP and is a director of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.


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  1. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

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  5. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.