Lawyers choose a legal career for many different reasons. Some have it in their DNA and come from a family of attorneys. For others, the idea may arise during high school or college, or maybe after spending some time in another kind of job or doing community service. When the idea strikes, some are not certain and need time to explore; others are driven straight to law school. But they all have one thing in common: something sparked their interest.
My job is to help empower our lawyers. They arrive here on their first day having already navigated their way through law school, the recruitment process and a summer program. It’s an impressive beginning, and I find great joy in doing my part to help them shape the future of their careers – digging into the work and finding the right space to practice in.
Since the firm decided in 2015 to embrace a pool concept for our first years in the transactional practice, I have been tasked with implementing that process. Shortly thereafter, I began coordinating staffing within the litigation practice in collaboration with our partners and counsel. This approach offers significant benefits. For one, it keeps everyone consistently busy and allows lawyers to immerse themselves in a variety of work, where and when our clients need it. It also provides exposure to our international network of offices in a very fluid way – that’s a great fit with our culture as a global firm.
A big part of my job is getting to know people: what kind of work interests them, their professional styles and goals – their voices. What I’ve learned is that this generation of junior lawyers is shifting the prevailing wisdom about success in the law.
I’m also here to encourage people to step outside their comfort zone by exposing them to different types of work. I know that I am having a positive impact on someone’s career when they say, “I’m so glad I tried something new.”
What you will read in these pages is just a sampling of the stories that our junior lawyers could tell. From my perspective, the takeaway is this: whether they practice law for their entire careers or move on to something completely unexpected, they are on a path to forging their own success in an evolving field. That’s why their perspective is so valuable. n
Erin Zucker, Americas regional professional development manager, Clifford Chance
A level playing field: How the Transactional Pool works
Upon joining Clifford Chance, most first-year law clerks and associates enter the pool for a two-and-a-half-year period, during which time they are given exposure to assignments across the firm’s transactional practices. The enhanced system preserves the best aspects of prior approaches – exposure to many different kinds of work and to partners and associates practicing in different areas – without the rigidity of six-month rotations. Ms Zucker’s role as a dedicated assignment manager was integral to the firm’s objectives in designing the pool system.