The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide (2nd Edition)
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About the Author
Thane Messinger is an attorney, adjunct professor of business law, and author of The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide; Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold; and Con Law: Avoiding...or Beating...the Scam of the Century (The Real Student's Guide to Law School and the Legal Profession).
"Since the introduction of One L by Scott Turow, published in 1977, many authors have attempted to write similarly instructional and successful books about becoming a lawyer. Thane Josef Messinger has differentiated his book by focusing not only on law school travails, but also on firm expectations of new associates. The primary focus of his book is on how new attorneys can immediately assume a production role without wasting countless hours of time. The book is extremely useful in training new associates and reminding senior partners of the commonly forgotten problems new attorneys face. It provides numerous ideas regarding the information to impart to new associates to ensure their success. Chapter Four, called "Getting the Work Done," instructs associates in a simple format how to write briefs, memos of law, complete forms and draft contracts. The author addresses the concerns, worries and fears of new associates who try to balance the need for detail and completeness against efficient use of time. The author's instructions are poignant and remind supervisory attorneys of wisdom to impart to new associates that they may take for granted or inadvertently overlook. Chapter Five succinctly addresses the basics of legal style and prose. The author provides insightful advice to help new associates manage tasks and competing firm interests. Messinger also addresses office politics and promotes modesty, even if an associate is a super genius. It provides strategy considerations for dealing with Rambo attorneys, and even the difficult client. This book will help new attorneys regardless of whether they work for a firm, government agency, corporation, or have their own solo practice. It imparts knowledge and instills confidence. The table of contents is well organized, and it is moderately easy to find the information one is searching for after a cursory review. This author does an excellent job of addressing the fears and concerns of new associates and the objectives of partners. He also addresses many other issues commonly overlooked in other books, like how to handle feedback and what to do if problems arise in employment. I recommend new attorneys, law students and supervisory attorneys read this book." -- Tracy A. Cinocca, Oklahoma Bar Journal, Vol. 71, No. 26, September 9, 2000
"As a young associate, I was anxious to read The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book. Like most associates starting out, I have quickly realized that three years of law school education did not adequately prepare me for legal practice.
While volumes have been written about law school survival and how to get ahead in law school, books on associate survival are relatively few in number. (Probably due to the lack of time young associates have for outside reading.) Thus, it was refreshing to discover that Messinger's book is primarily addressed to that forgotten class of legal society.
The author offers his own tidbits and advice on everything from 'your place in the firm' to dealing with other attorneys, clients, secretaries, and staff in order to avoid the traps and pitfalls that await every young 'junior' in a firm.
The author delivers his words of wisdom in a light-hearted and humorous manner, which makes the subject matter a little easier to digest. The book is peppered with anecdotes and humorous stories from the author's own early years as an associate.
The book is loaded with common-sense advice for new associates, presented in a humorous, readable manner." -- Joseph Lee, Esq., Washington State Bar News, March 1997, pp. 38-39
"It has been documented many times that the first year of law practice is one of the most stressful in the life of a lawyer, replete with new surroundings, experiences, behaviors, and requirements.
This book offers suggestions and survival guidelines on topics from legal research to writing style to appropriate dress to professional relationships inside and outside the firm. The author provides realistic descriptions of the time required of a new associate, the hierarchies that exist within firms, and the mysteries surrounding the annual review. This is the type of information a law student might assume is covered in law school or a CLE course or by the firm itself, but generally is not. Additionally, the book offers advice for the law student on classes, on summer jobs and judicial clerkships, and on the bar exam.
A former law review editor and lawyer with a commercial practice, the author's view of the law firm environment is one more structured and "silk stockinged" than may be true for many firms today, but the background he provides to the new associate is priceless.
Law firms might want to consider purchasing a copy for each associate." -- Law Practice Management, March 1997, pp. 60-62.
"Speaking primarily to new attorneys, law students, and would-be law students, though also to more senior attorneys with management and training responsibilities, the author assesses with dead-pan humor the current legal marketplace and concludes that it is less collegial and more competitive than ever before as more and more lawyers battle for the business of increasingly demanding and sophisticated clients.
The author stresses that new attorneys must work hard to develop the proper attitude about the practice of law. The book not only examines such traditional orientation topics as how to work effectively with your secretary, how to organize and prioritize your work, the need to develop a proper and persuasive writing style, and the need to meet your billable target, but also more subtle, though no less important, topics that are rarely the subject of formal orientation meetings. For example, modesty, responsibly handling money, 'fitting in, ' proper appearance, and learning to be all things to all partners all receive extensive treatment.
It is in these largely subjective and too-often undiscussed areas that this book shines. Frankly confronting the reality and importance of personal and subjective preferences and prejudices in a number of non-performance aspects of firm life, the author tries to guide the young attorney over the fine line between totally compromising one's individuality and being an ego-centric individualist who compromises the firm's interests through inappropriate personal behavior.
This is a thoughtful, candid, and well-written book that is simultaneously humorous, insightful, and disquieting. It honors no sacred cows, but rather attempts to provide new attorneys with honest (sometimes painfully honest) advice to guide them through the initial stage of private practice.
In this the book succeeds, and the new attorney, or even second or third-year law student, would do well to make the investment." -- Richard F. Wareing, Esq., Connecticut Bar Journal, vol. 70, no. 4, pp. 308-310
"Usually, when I'm asked to review a book, it's real hard to drum up enthusiasm. Not so with this one. I really, really like it, and I'm excited to review it. (Believe me, I rarely say that.)
Jungle hits home...I wish I'd had it 20 years ago. This book should be required reading for all law students; by the time it reached my hands, two decades after law school, it was still relevant.
An upfront, no-holds-barred primer on becoming a lawyer, this book could be the most worthwhile investment you make in your legal career." -- Jennifer Rose, Esq., Editor-in-Chief of The Compleat Lawyer, July 6, 1997
"Most junior associates are set on their way with neither map nor compass...although expected to arrive on time at the secret destination.
In The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book, Thane Josef Messinger provides the map; his book is packed with frank and encouraging advice for beginning attorneys. He paints an honest picture of what is in store for a first-year associate, covering who the players are, how to behave with clients, time-billing, annual reviews, guidelines on how to act professionally as well as dress appropriately, and much, much more.
The book is filled with insightful nuggets of advice that would be valuable to anyone setting off in the first years as an attorney. Messinger's advice leans toward life in the private law firm environment, but the topics discussed are relevant and general enough to interest those starting careers in other areas of legal service.
This book should be suggested reading for pre-law and law students, as well as junior attorneys beginning their first years of practice. Advice is offered on which courses to take in law school, what to look for in a law firm, why a judicial clerkship can be a plus, and even tips on preparing for the bar exam. This book would also be of interest to legal recruiters, law firm administrators, personnel support, and law librarians.
For those going through the transformation from law school to law practice, the demands and expectations can be overwhelming to say the least. Messinger is encouraging and supportive throughout. He genuinely wants to steer you in the right direction and to save you some agony in the long run.
The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book is highly recommended for all types of law libraries. I will definitely be adding my copy to our law firm library.
When one of our new fall associates saw it on my desk, he wanted to read it then and there. I wish I had enough copies for each of them.
Enjoy the book! I did." -- Michelle Schmidt, Research Advisor: Information Solutions for Today's Legal Professionals, issue 13, Jan/Feb 1998, pp. 5-6. Ms. Schmidt is librarian for Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, a law firm based in San Diego, California
"The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide, 2nd Edition by Thane Josef Messinger is the subject of this week's book review -- a little off track of what we've been reading so far this summer but hopefully, you'll find it useful nevertheless!
There are a bunch of advice books for new lawyers out there. This one came highly recommended to me by a senior associate acquaintance. So I read it, admitedly in small doses about a chapter at a time until I could get through the whole thing. I will say that I read it slowly not because it wasn't interesting but, let's face it, this is a professional advice book, not a novel, and you can only take so much advice in one sitting.
Overall, I think this was a worthwhile read for a new associate in a big law firm. Mr. Messinger gives very practical advice in a no-nonsense kind of way. He tells it how it is in manner that isn't apologetic or politically correct. (It is perhaps a little male-focused as he hides a little bit from the issues when he discusses gender politics in firms or gender diversity in the profession.) By and large, I think the advice is sound and something that was worth the effort and time and would have been valuable before my summer associate job or a great read between the bar and starting work at the firm. Some things are common sense but those things likely differ for each reader.break I really appreciate that it isn't written with just litigators in mind as I've found from most of these sorts of books. He doesn't talk endlessly about cite-checking briefs of suffering through document review. I think this book would be valuable to all large and medium firm lawyers and not just litigators or transactional attorneys.
Here are some nuggets from the book to give you a sense of what you are in for:
In Chapter 4 'Getting the Work Done' he writes about how to take on your first year's work at a firm:
"Your first years in the law are a good opportunity to learn it. Take advantage. Glamorous though the Captain might be, it's more comfy as co-pilot. Enjoy your training wheels while you've got 'em."
Hitting the nail on the head, in my opinion, he writes about how much to bill:
'Why do you think firms pay new associates such ridiculously high salaries? Niceness? Yeah, right. ...The rub is that your cost to the firm is fixed, buy your potential revenue is limited only by the hours of your day. Thus the never-relenting push for even higher billibles. Strangely, [Partners] aren't the only ones stoking. [Associates], in their ignorance of life beyond compeition, too often delight in the unrefined art of extratemporal one-upsmanship. ... Don't shoot for billable superstardom. ... Instead, shoot for - and hit - a target slightly to moderately above the median. Unless you're in the Tour de Rat, moderated exhaustion will be enough to get you the crown of partnership.'
You'll find practical advice and many shared lessons learned in this book." -- K Hernan, JD Book Reviews
"New lawyers receive relatively little in the way of practical guidelines to the real world of practice: enter this title, which examines law practice operations and the young new lawyer's entry-level experience. This book covers all the basics." -- Midwest Book Review, vol. 3, no. 12, p. 1.
"A very helpful book for those planning legal careers. Each year 45,000 young lawyers graduate from one of the most grueling of all graduate programs only to enter one of the most hostile employment environments.
If you did well in law school, and go with a top firm, its expectations will blow your mind. If you were only average, then you have a real job search on you hand. In either event, this book is filled with sound advice with a helpful optimistic tone.
Every career field would benefit from a great book like this one on law." -- Career Opportunity News, Jan./Feb. 1997, p. 12.