In the final weeks of the summer associate program, we had the opportunity to debrief with an experienced attorney at the firm—Marshall Pasternack. In his infamous “10 at 3” meeting, Marshall took time out of his busy day to share some of the things he’s learned throughout his career with myself and the other summer associates. At Bilzin Sumberg, people call these “Marshall-isms,” and they have been invaluable to our experience and growth as lawyers-in-training. There are too many to list, but some of the Marshall-isms that caught my attention include:
- When given a new assignment or matter, learn everything you can about the client and the context for the problem to be addressed. In other words, don’t perform your work in a vacuum.
- Practicing law is adversarial, but it doesn’t have to be antagonistic. Just because you sit on the opposite side of the negotiating table or argue for opposite resolutions in court doesn’t mean you have to treat opposing counsel poorly.
- The two most important things for a young lawyer: be reliable and be dependable. Your word is everything. Safely guard it.
- Be interested. Be interesting. Be inquisitive. People connect well with those who care. Be someone who cares.
- At the end of the day, all you have is your reputation. Protect it.
- Find a mentor and be a mentor.
- Ask for and embrace constructive criticism. It is vital for your development.
- Take pride in your work. Everything you touch carries your professional “DNA.” Make sure that when people view your work, they see quality product.
- A shot not taken is a goal not scored. Take chances. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
- Manage expectations. This is key. It is better to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and under deliver.
Marshall offered many other insights, but the theme stayed consistent throughout: be respectful, be engaged, guard your reputation, and take chances. As you can see, many of these tips apply not just to work, but to life in general. As a young person about to embark on my career, I really appreciated Marshall taking the time out of his schedule to share these tips with us. It serves as just another example of the kind of wholesome training summer associates receive at Bilzin Sumberg. The firm really values developing us as people, and its leaders care not just about our ability to turn in quality assignments, but who we will become in the process.