November 28, 2012

Legal Interning Tip #8

Keep a list of your current assignments.

Law offices can be hectic places. Everyone, from attorneys to paralegals, is trying to juggle several projects at once while dealing with endless interruptions. Because every one else is preoccupied with keeping track of their deadlines, meetings, and whatever else is on their plate, no one is going to keep track of your responsibilities but you.

This is why it is very important to keep track of what tasks have been assigned to you. Once an attorney gives you an assignment, the matter is out of her mind. She no longer has to think about it because you are handling it now and she can focus on other things. If you forget about the assignment, then it could be weeks before the attorney remembers that she needs it and gave the matter to you. In a legal environment, where deadlines can be very important, there is a chance that this kind of mistake could have serious consequences for the attorney or client. Even if the mistake is harmless, the slip-up will make make you seem irresponsible and that attorney (or any others who catch wind of what happened) will be less likely to give you interesting or important work in the future.

Find a list-keeping method that works best for you. You can keep your assignment list in a Word document, Google docs, or on your legal pad. What's important is that your assignments are all listed in one place and that it is kept current. To ensure that your list is accurate, take a minute at the end of your day to go over it. Cross off what you accomplished that day and add any new assignments that are missing along with any deadlines. If you are doing work for several attorneys, also note who gave you the assignment.

It is also often wise to keep a list of recently finished projects for you to follow up on. This is because emails get lost, attorneys forget, and miscommunications happen. A good way to stand out as an organized and responsible intern is to make a note to follow up on an assignment a few days after handing it in if you do not get any confirmation from the attorney that it was received.

- Lauren | Twitter: @Musicn3rd
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