Opinion: Lawyers make mistakes. That’s not a bad thing

The practice of law can be chaos. We juggle too many files. We have to respond to surprise moves by opposing counsel. And since the law is always changing, we’re often doing things for the first time. It’s inevitable that mistakes will creep into our work.

Yet as a profession, we never talk about this fact. This, in turn, creates the illusion that we are all perfect.

This needs to change. It’s so important to speak honestly about failure. A 2016 study found that when high-school students learned that famous scientists — such as Albert Einstein and Marie Curie — suffered professional setbacks, their grades were more likely to improve. Such stories helped students “interpret their difficulties in science classes as normal occurrences rather than a reflection of their lack of intelligence.”Allow me to break the ice. I was once working on a closing and the clients were coming to sign the final papers at our offices. In the rush to finalize, a few pages of the deal were missing signatures — a mistake I noticed only after the clients had left. My immediate thought: I will never work on a closing again. I’m a negligent lawyer.

But in the end, it was a simple fix. I called them back, they signed the pages and my career went on. Since then, I’ve started to accept that I will never be perfect. I have found the following steps to be helpful in those moments of panic, when I realize that things haven’t gone as planned.

Be honest about what happened. When something goes wrong, it’s terrifying. But it will only get worse if you don’t admit your mistake and deal with it right away. To suffer on your own, in secret, can cloud your judgment. Remember that the earlier you address the problem, the easier it will be to find a solution.

Failing Up, Sandi Falconer

Take a break. After dealing with a stressful situation, remember that it’s okay to disengage and find validation outside of work. I find it helpful to engage in activities I enjoy, like preparing a good meal, finishing a book or indulging in my guiltiest pleasure (poring over mom blogs and the forums that analyze their personas).

Stay off social media. Though social media can be informative (and entertaining), it can trick you into thinking that your friends’ best moments are their everyday moments. I do this all the time. I’ll think, This lawyer always looks great and professional and seems to eat the best meals and go on the best vacations. In moments of vulnerability, it’s easy to slip further down the comparison spiral and think, I bet this person never makes mistakes. In reality, this is almost certainly not true. But the easiest way to keep your mind clear is to get off Instagram.

Lean on your support network. When I experience that sinking feeling in my gut after something goes wrong, I benefit tremendously from my friends and mentors. They are there to remind me that the feeling will go away and that I shouldn’t rest my self-esteem on that one file.

Reflect on what happened. After the panic settles, take time to really think about why the error took place. Were too many things happening at the time? Could you have planned better? Moving on should include a genuine reflection on why things unfolded the way they did, so the same sequence of events can be avoided in the future.

And if you’re wondering, yes: I always triple-check every page for signatures during a closing. But I also know that, if I miss one, that doesn’t mean I’m the worst lawyer.


Rosel KimRosel Kim is an associate at Goodmans LLP. She is a career and lifestyle writer for Precedent and PrecedentJD. Follow her on Twitter at @jroselkim.

 

 

 


This story is from our Fall 2018 Issue.


Illustration by Sandi Falconer

Trial & Error: How to write the perfect email

In my last column, I tackled a subject lawyers are all too familiar with: email, and when to use it instead of in-person meetings or talking on the phone. Sometimes, I concluded, email is the best choice. And for those times, here are six tips for drafting the “perfect” email. (Shout out to Bindu Cudjoe, the deputy general counsel and chief administrative officer at BMO Financial Group, who helped develop this list.)

1. Be careful about who is in the “to” and “copy” address lines

Most people receive hundreds of emails every day. So try not to unnecessarily load up someone’s inbox. Also, to ensure everyone receives the email, make sure there is no “auto-fill” error.

2. Cater your salutations to the recipient of each email

I use email for all kinds of matters, so I use salutations to convey the level of formality in the communication. I start my informal emails with “Hi” and I sign off with my name or, simply, “Cheers.” For formal emails, to clients and co-workers, I address recipients by their name only. I address them by their first name if I’ve met them before, and “Mr./Ms.” followed by their last name for everyone else. I sign off formal emails with “Regards” or “Best.”

3. Always include your contact information in your e-mail

Quite often, when you send an email, the recipient will want to phone you. Make your phone number east to find. Not doing so is one of Bindu’s pet peeves — and it likely is for several of your clients and co-workers, too.

4. Have a clear, detailed subject line

I typically send and receive a couple hundred emails a day, so clear subject lines help me locate the emails I want when dashing between meetings. In each subject line, I include the name of the matter or file, followed by the specific item or task under discussion. If appropriate, I add what our next step should be. For example, in a transactional context, a good subject would look like: “Acme Inc. Deal – Prospectus – MT Comments.” In litigation, a good subject line would be: “Jane ats Joe – Discoveries – Please Hold Jan 1, 2015.”

5. Put new thoughts in a new e-mail

All good e-mail threads must come to an end and new thoughts require a new thread. This is important for many reasons: it makes it easier to forward emails without the baggage of old threads, and for the litigators in the audience, creating a clean motion record.

6. Make your email easy to read

Consider that most people read emails on mobile devices. Bold, highlight, and underline key passages or phrases to draw the reader to your most salient points.

Do you have any other suggestions for e-mail? If so, please share with me on Twitter at @atrishalewis.


Atrisha Lewis is a third-year associate in McCarthy Tétrault’s litigation group. Follow her on Twitter: @atrishalewisAnd also check out all of her past columns.

Spend: How to tip like a pro

Ask 10 strangers about tipping etiquette and you’ll get 10 different answers. While there is some grey area, many aspects of tipping are non-negotiable (lest you be judged by your pals for stiffing a server). Avoid the cheapskate label with these guidelines.

CutleryAt a restaurant

Although the Toronto Star recently reported that 20 percent is becoming the new normal, 15 percent (usually on the before-tax total) is still a standard tip for reasonable service. This means the server was polite, efficient and anticipated your needs (like offering wine that pairs well, or refilling a water glass without being asked). If she goes above and beyond, the tip should reflect that: 20 percent or higher. But is it ever OK not to tip?

Etiquette expert Louise Fox says no. If the service is truly terrible, leave a smaller tip and speak to the manager. Leaving nothing is spiteful and won’t make you look like a big shot in front of your peers. Plus, it’s especially cruel if the perceived poor service was not the fault of the server.

And if you can’t afford to tip at all, then get in line at McDonald’s. “If you’re not willing to pay up to 20 percent for a tip,” says Fox, “you’re probably living beyond your means.”

AirplaneWhen travelling

Fox highly suggests tipping hotel staff, as they will definitely notice and treat you accordingly. Tip $2 to $5 per night for maids (just leave the cash beside a note on the dresser) and $1 per bag for a bellhop. Give $5 to $20 to the concierge, depending on how much help you get — wait until the end of your stay, and hand it over when you check out.

ScissorsAt a salon or spa

Typically, professionals such as registered massage therapists don’t receive tips — this would be like “tipping your doctor,” says Fox. “If you’re unsure, call ahead to ask about the tipping policy. There are times where it’s iffy and it’s OK to ask.”

But a tip of no less than 10 percent is expected in hair and nail salons, and most spas. The only exception is when you’re receiving service from the business owner, in which case you’re not required to tip.

TaxiIn a cab

Fox usually rounds her fare up to the nearest $5, making sure to leave at least a toonie. “If it’s a short ride, I’ll tip a bit more because it takes them out of the lineup for better paying jobs.” Like servers, cab drivers rely on tips in an otherwise poorly paid profession. Try a cab-hailing app like Uber (not available in every Canadian city, but they are expanding), where the tip is built in to the price and gets applied automatically.

Coffee CupAt a coffee shop

It’s not required, but it’s a nice gesture to toss some change in the jar at your favourite coffee joint, especially if the baristas are friendly and take special care with your order.

Final takeaway

When in doubt, remember that the point of a tip is to both encourage and reward good service. You might also consider writing a good review (gold for the service industry) or leaving a note for the manager to praise excellent service — you’ll make someone’s day and it won’t cost you a penny.


Student-Issue-2015-CoverThis story is from our 2015 Student Issue.

Trial & Error: Email etiquette for lawyers

Every day, I send and receive at least a couple hundred emails. Yet we, as a profession, rarely step back and consider how we use email — and how we can use it better. And so, I’ve put together what I call “The Lawyer’s Code of Conduct for Email” — drawing on my working experiences and those of Bindu Cudjoe, the deputy general counsel and chief administrative officer at BMO Financial Group. What follows is the first half of my two-part guide, which offers three tips on how to maintain proper email decorum.

1. Use email for scheduling, not decision-making

There are basically three ways to communicate with someone: in-person, on the phone and via email. When I spoke to Bindu, she said email is best used as a scheduling tool — to set up meetings and longer calls — rather than for detailed discussions or making substantial decisions. You can use email to record those decisions and suggest next steps, but when you want to go in-depth, hop on the phone.

2. Respond to clients promptly, even if you can’t answer their questions

Clients demand timeliness. So when they email me, I respond in a couple of hours, or within 12 hours if they email outside of business hours. If I need more time to consider the request, my response might be as simple as “Will do” or “Will get back to you.” And if I know I’ll be away from my email, I always set up an out-of-office alert that tells the sender when to expect a response. The point is: clients should never be kept out of the loop, wondering when you will get back to them.

3. Stop sending emails at 4 a.m.

Okay, I’m as guilty as anyone of sending emails whenever the impulse strikes. But, when working late, unless the recipient needs the information right away, wait until the next day to hit “send.” In Microsoft Office, use the “delay send” feature so the email arrives at more appropriate time — say, 9 a.m. the next morning. I often schedule emails to arrive when I know the recipient starts his or her workday (that’s 7:30 a.m. for known early-risers). That way, my messages are less likely to sink to the bottom of their inboxes.


Atrisha Lewis is a second-year associate in McCarthy Tétrault’s litigation group. Follow her on Twitter: @atrishalewisAnd also check out all of her past columns.

Trial & Error: How lawyers can leverage LinkedIn (part 2)

In my last column, I suggested a few ways that lawyers can use LinkedIn to enhance their professional band. But all of that effort will go to waste if you don’t start with a strong profile. So here are six simple tips for building and managing a stellar LinkedIn page:

  1. Write your summary in the first person
    When people visit your profile, this is probably the only thing they’ll read. So take some time to write a punchy, 30-second snapshot of who you are professionally. And to make it more personal and authentic, write it in the first person.
  2. Include your contact information
    You might have concerns about privacy, but LinkedIn is only helpful if connections can actually contact you — and the LinkedIn messenger service is not user-friendly. I find it helpful to include my email on my profile. (Plus, my work email is Google-able anyway.)
  3. Accept most invitations to connect
    But don’t blindly accept every request. At worst, you’ll be spammed and, at best, you’ll have an unwieldy and impersonal network. As a general rule, filter out people you’ve never met, unless they send you a message explaining why they want to get in touch.
  4. Post updates regularly
    Even if you’re just commenting on a piece of legal news, posting often will keep you top-of-mind within your network and enhance your professional brand. I also use Hootsuite, which lets me manage both my LinkedIn profile and my Twitter feed at once.
  5. Be cautious about endorsements
    It’s flattering to receive endorsements from other users — and they are the mark of a strong profile — but be wary if someone endorses you for a skill you don’t possess. It both muddies your professional brand and it can mislead potential clients.
  6. Use groups sparingly
    In theory, groups should help you meet new people in your field, discuss the latest trends and learn about cool events. But in my experience, most groups are more annoying than helpful. Be thoughtful about which groups you join or you might be overwhelmed with spam. I prefer to join closed groups with moderators who are selective about who can become a member. Feel free to join and exit groups until you find a few that work for you.

Happy linking!


Atrisha Lewis is a second-year associate in McCarthy Tétrault’s litigation group. Follow her on Twitter: @atrishalewis

 

Trial & Error: How lawyers can leverage LinkedIn (part 1)

Hey lawyers — it’s time to get on LinkedIn. Or, if you’re on it and barely use it, it’s time to get your act together. Your career will thank you.

For the uninitiated, LinkedIn is essentially an online CV — a summary of your experience and accomplishments, connected to a network of your contacts. Many associates erroneously believe that they only need a profile if they are looking for a job. However, LinkedIn can be a powerful business development and profile-building tool and need not be limited to those on the job hunt.

Here the top four ways I use LinkedIn:

  1. As a database of experts
    As part of my litigation practice, I often look for the leading experts in a particular field. LinkedIn is a great database for searching for individuals with specific expertise. I often find that potential experts are more responsive to a LinkedIn request because the expert will know that I am a lawyer, can review my background and experience, and can see if we have any common connections.
  2. As a tool to stay in touch
    LinkedIn helps me stay in touch with a broader network of people and helps me keep track of individuals as they move around. I aim to message someone I have not seen in a while or who I do not know very well once a month and suggest meeting for coffee or lunch. It may initially be intidimating to visit a profile, because LinkedIn tracks it — users can see who’s viewed their profile. However, there’s no real downside to a little LinkedIn “creeping.” After all, that’s kind of the point of making a  profile. I often look to who has viewed my profile as an inspiration for who I might reach out to for a coffee.
  3. As a way to help others in my network
    I also use LinkedIn proactively to help other people. For example, if I notice that a contact has moved to a company where I already have a friend, I will offer to make an introduction. Helping others in this way brings me joy and keeps me plugged into my network.
  4. As a vehicle to promote my writing
    I am always sure to post my latest Precedent column on LinkedIn. This allows me to keep my contacts updated on me and grow the reach of my writing.

The more you use LinkedIn, the more profile views you’ll generate. It doesn’t matter how impressive your resume is if no one sees it. The profile-building value of the LinkedIn profile lies in the number of times it’s viewed.

Coming next month, Part 2: Best practices for creating your LinkedIn profile.


Atrisha Lewis is a second-year associate in McCarthy Tétrault’s litigation group. Follow her on Twitter: @atrishalewis

Making It Work: The four ways your job is killing you

Between the food courts, long hours, all that sitting and the stress — practising law can be dangerous. But staying healthy doesn’t have to be hard. Here, some of the city’s top health experts reveal how to overcome the health hazards lawyers face every day.

HamburgerHazard #1: Eating out all the time

Make smarter choices at food courts
“I could eat out seven days a week — for breakfast, lunch and dinner — and never gain a pound,” proclaims Rose Reisman, a nutritionist and owner of Rose Reisman Catering. The first step, she says, is to stop ordering these common foods: cream-heavy Caesar salads (“a heart attack on a plate”), anything with crust (“the eggs in a quiche aren’t going to kill you, but the lard or shortening in the pastry will”), Thai dishes with mounds of white noodles and any menu item with the word “smothered” in the title. The next step is learning which foods you can order. For Reisman, open-faced sandwiches on whole-wheat bread are a good choice. So are salads with light dressing, a whole grain (brown rice or quinoa) and a lean protein (fish, chicken or tofu).

Boss your chefs around
At restaurants, always tell the chef to grill, rather than fry or sauté, any meat, advises Leslie Beck, a registered Toronto dietician. And always ask for sauce on the side.

Eat breakfast
Otherwise, your brain will release wave after wave of appetite-inducing hormones hours later, says Beck. “That sets the stage for cravings” — and overeating — “later on in the day.”

CellphoneHazard #2: A serious lack of sleep

Turn your gadgets off an hour before you want to sleep
To prepare your body for rest, you need to disconnect from the world, says Jaan Reitav, a Toronto psychologist certified in behavioural sleep medicine. So if you get home late, shut down all devices — phones, tablets and laptops — right away. If you read a stressful (i.e. work-related) email or answer a phone call, he explains, don’t expect to nod off minutes after.

No more late-night Netflix
“Think about it: the job of a television producer is to engage the audience with a captivating narrative,” says Reitav. Watching television at night is more likely to rile you up than calm you down. Instead, Reitav recommends reading a book or listening to music. “Putting on beautiful music and listening quietly while practising deep breathing is an incredible way to relax the mind.”

Listen to your body
“We all know people who can sleep for four hours, get up and have no trouble,” says Reitav. But those people are outliers — that is, genetic mutants to whom the normal rules of biology don’t apply. Most of us need about seven hours of sleep each night for our bodies and minds to properly recover.

ChairHazard #3: Not enough exercise

Stand up
Sitting at your desk for hours on end is truly terrible for you, says Meg Sharp, executive director of personal training at the Cambridge Group of Clubs. It causes your blood sugar levels to spike and triglycerides — better known as fat — to clog your arteries. Standing up to stretch or move around at least once an hour stimulates your blood flow and flushes out your arteries. As Sharp puts it, “It’s incredibly powerful.”

Work out in small doses
“Everyone says they’re short on time,” says Mark Hendricks, regional group fitness manager at Equinox Fitness Clubs. “I believe that is a bit lazy.” Especially, he adds, when a 20-minute workout — or jog, or squash game, or bike ride — three times a week can make a huge difference in overall health.

Get a gym buddy
“It’s incredibly easy to let ourselves down,” says Hendricks. “But it’s not so easy to let others down.” And so, if you want to make exercise a regular habit, make that commitment with a friend — or even a client. (How’s that for motivation?)

HourglassHazard #4: Maximum stress levels

Get a hobby
“It sounds kind of lame,” says Dr. James Aw, chief medical officer of the Medcan Clinic, a health centre in Toronto. “But it’s important to remember who you were before life got so serious as a lawyer. Otherwise you’ll start to lose connection with old friends and communities.” Whether it’s playing an instrument, joining a sports team or writing poetry, Aw says it’s important to give yourself “permission to have fun and to play.”

Work fewer hours
If you’re working more than 60 hours a week, and you know it’s hurting your health or relationships, then you need to work less, says Dr. David Posen, author of Is Work Killing You? Maybe that means working late three nights a week, rather than five. Or working Saturday, but not Sunday. And, as a bonus, Posen says you’ll likely be more productive when you are working. “In close to 30 years, I’ve never met an over-worked patient who couldn’t get the same amount of work done in less time once they took better care of themselves.”

Spend more time with family and close friends
Your social calendar should not be crammed full with cocktail parties and outings with colleagues, says Aw. Even if you enjoy work events, he notes, an agenda hovers over each social encounter. Over time, that leads to higher levels of stress. Hanging out with family, he insists, is actually good for you. Make it a priority to have dinner with your spouse or catch up with your friends a few times each week. Aw says that those interactions give your mind a break: “There’s no agenda except that you love each other.”


This story is part of The Precedent guide to getting it all done, from our Spring 2015 issue.

 

 


Illustrations by Naila Medjidova

The Crime Traveller: How to take a grown-up guys’ trip to Las Vegas

I first visited Las Vegas in my twenties. As a budding criminal defence lawyer, I had the utmost respect for a city so committed to the principle of solicitor-client confidentiality.

Now, fifteen years later, I decided to embark on a weekend guys’ trip to Sin City with one goal: to return home with my legal reputation intact.

I arrive at the MGM Grand just before midnight local time — a perfect time to enjoy a few spirits at a relaxed, woody bar like Whiskey Down. Come morning, I find myself sipping from the hangover cocktail menu at Mandalay Bay’s Fleur. Fortunately, my cocktail is accompanied by a soup bowl of steaming coffee and red velvet pancakes.

Suitably caffeinated, I take a short trip off the Strip to the asphalt home of Exotics Racing. I relish the rare chance to test-drive a 550HP Lamborghini Gallardo. The professional driver seated beside me hails from Australia — and he nonchalantly goes over a few of the Lambo’s quirks: “The paddle shifters are tiny pieces of crap jammed too close to your wiper stalk, and the brakes bite like a dingo. Now let’s get this car moving fast!” OK then. Within 30 seconds, I’m streaking around a tight corner at 186 kph. After the drive, I take a passenger ride-along with a professional drift driver, whose nauseating turns reduce our Corvette’s tires to wet, pasty tar.

After a morning of Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, I settle into my booth at the MGM’s Shibuya for a feast of Japanese culinary creations. I start with plates of jalapeño hamachi and kanpachi sashimi coated in yuzu and black lava salt. Then, the main attraction: a broiled black cod with thinly sliced wagyu skirt steak in a black pepper teriyaki sauce. The pleasant warmth of Shibuya’s in-house sake accompanies me as I turn in for the night.

I wake the next morning and opt for pure relaxation. I settle into a barber’s chair at the Aria Spa and Salon. After an expert shave with a straight-edged razor, I am pampered with a tightening skin mask. Rubbing my palm against my baby-faced cheek, I make a mental note to shave again in a month.

Feeling rejuvenated, I travel to the Desert Pine Golf Club. The landscape alternates between the dusky red mountains and the multi-coloured glass of the Strip. The solid undergrowth and arid conditions (even in February) make for concrete-hard fairways and unforgivingly fast greens.

For dinner, I head to Portofino, a Tuscan-style restaurant tucked at the back of the Mirage hotel. It’s a pleasant respite from the dazzling lights and clanging bells of Las Vegas. Local herbs and vegetables are fused with Italian mainstays, like bufala mozzarella, to create rich broths for made-to-order pastas. Don’t be afraid to request modifications to the menu. Chef Michael LaPlaca appears to relish the challenge of perfecting each diner’s customized order.

So there you have it. Three jam-packed days in Las Vegas. No censorship required.


Some travel support and assistance provided by MGM Resorts.

 


Edward Prutschi is a Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer. Follow Ed’s criminal law commentary (@prutschi) and The Crime Traveller’s adventures (@crimetraveller) on Twitter, read his Crime Traveller blog, or email ed@thecrimetraveller.com.


Trial & Error: Practice resolutions for the junior lawyer

Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions. So why not include a practice resolution on your list? After canvassing resolution recommendations from peers in various practice groups, firms and practice settings, here are my top 5 practice resolutions for the junior lawyer — or any lawyer looking to improve her practice in the new year. 

  1. Implement a Bring Forward (BF) system. 
    Many litigators already have a BF/tickler system in place, but why let them have all the organizational fun? This habit can also extend to a transactional practice. I “bring forward,” or put in my calendar, a future reminder to do something, ensuring all of my deliverables are diarized and nothing falls through the cracks. Consider extending your BF system for business development purposes. For example, if you meet a new connection at a networking event, use a BF system as a reminder to reconnect in a few months. Better yet, set up a Google alert for news related to your connection’s employer so you get both a reminder and a conversation starter.
  2. Create a personal plan.
    A personal plan outlines your professional goals and specific ways to achieve them. If you do not have one, write down your professional goals and be accountable to them throughout the year. You can BF a quarterly review of your plan to make sure you are on track. Ask other lawyers or your human resources department for precedents. If you already have a plan, consider showing it to a more senior lawyer and ask for feedback.
  3. Join a new industry group. 
    There are a plethora of practice groups to join in your area. Resolve to join a new OBA section, or a group like Women in Capital Markets, and commit to attending at least three events throughout 2015. It’s a great way to expand your network.
  4. Make social media your friend. 
    Do you have a LinkedIn page? When was the last time you updated it? Do you have a Twitter account? How often do you tweet? This year, resolve to break into, update or expand your presence into one social media outlet. Chris Horkins, an associate at Cassels Brock LLP, wisely told me that social media is a strategic advantage that juniors can have over our more senior counterparts in building our practice. Why not use it? (Of course, always be sure to respect your firm’s social media policy.)
  5. Spend time strategically.
    So how will you make time for these resolutions? Resolve to be strategic in how you spend your valuable time. Examine your plate with a critical eye and consider what work can be better served by another colleague, articling or summer student who would be eager for the learning opportunity.  Consider reducing the amount of work you take on and re-allocate that time to digesting the work you are doing and to investing in your professional development.  

Atrisha Lewis is a second-year associate in McCarthy Tétrault’s litigation group. Follow her on Twitter: @atrishalewis

Special thanks to Rachel Allred for all the help with this column in 2014.

Trial & Error: Essential reading for the junior lawyer

Are you seeking inspiration, insights or talking points? Check out my list of essential reads for the junior lawyer —four that have profoundly impacted my practice: 

1. Chris Hadfield’s an Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

It’s not a book about law, but there are many takeaways that apply to any ambitious lawyer, such as the value of working hard and parking your ego. The biggest lesson I gleaned from this book was to plan for every contingency. I found myself reflecting on this advice earlier this year as I geared up for my first trial. I considered all possible permeations and equipped myself appropriately. I came prepared with materials that my team may need in the face of possible objections and while I did not think of everything, I was able to plan for most contingencies and add a great deal of value to the trial team. 

2. The Rules of Civil Procedure (or whatever legislation is most relevant to your practice)

Phil Moore, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of TD Bank Group, advised me as an articling student to read the Canadian Business Corporations Act cover to cover… in one sitting. He explained that in so doing, I would obtain insight into the contents and structure of the statute. Regardless of your area of practice, I firmly believe his advice holds true. I recently familiarized myself with the most relevant legislation to my practice, Rules of Civil Procedure, which has helped me immensely. With a thorough understanding of the Rules, I know exactly where to turn when I face new issues in my practice. 

3. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In

This one is worth the buzz. The messaging in this book is essential for all junior lawyers. There are many useful nuggets in this book, and I’ve previously shared one in my article on how to properly take a vacation. Lean In is packed with so much practical wisdom that I could write an entire column about this book alone.

4. Daily news

You’ll hear it often in your career that reading the news is important. It took me a few road trips with colleagues and a handful of awkward elevator rides to truly understand the necessity of being current with the daily news. Being current not only provides you with a litany of talking points to fill elevator silences, but it also deepens your perspective of the world around you. 

Notable mentions:

While I haven’t yet carved the time out to read these books, they came highly recommended by my colleagues and sit on my current “to-read” list:

  • Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer by Grover Cleveland. This book was provided by Osler to all of its first year associates.
  • Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future by Richard Susskin. This one describes what the future of technology has in store for lawyers.

Got any other great must-reads? Let me know


Atrisha Lewis is a second-year associate in McCarthy Tétrault’s litigation group. Follow her on Twitter: @atrishalewis