You've gotten an assignment from an attorney. Now what?
- Understand the Subject of the Assignment: If you don't understand the nature of the assignment, you can't give your attorney what he/she requested.
- Understand the Scope of the Assignment: Does your attorney want an in-depth analysis, or just a brief summary? Get an answer to this question before you "put pen to paper."
- Know the Due Date of the Assignment: A belatedly-submitted assignment may be the same as the non-performance of the assignment.
- Know the Ultimate Audience of the Assignment: Is your work-product intended just for your attorney? For a senior partner? For a client?
- Know the Limits of Your Knowledge/Experience: If you're asked to draft a document that you've never heard of before, let your attorney know upfront.
- Be Prepared to Broaden Your Horizons: Even if you've never researched a topic, but anticipate further assignments in the particular area, be prepared to tackle the topic.
- Know When to Ask for Help: If you are floundering, seek help before procrastination seizes control.
- Know Who to Ask for Help: Who can simplify/clarify/provide direction on the subject?
- Know If You May Speak Directly to Client About Your Assignment/Conclusions: Or are such communications reserved to your attorney/his or her senior partner?
- Be Thorough; Be Complete; Consider Side Issues: Cover all bases.
- Proof Read/Edit Your Final Work-Product: Your attorney should be prepared to sign-off on your report/conclusions.
- Request Direction on Further Necessary Work: Ask what else is required to make your work/conclusions truly "final."
- Accept Praise/Constructive Criticism with the Same Degree of Equanimity: 'Nuf said on that subject.
Lewis Cohn is an attorney with Witman Stadtmauer, P.A., where he practices in the areas of commercial litigation, corporate litigation, estate and probate litigation, and commercial collections. He is admitted to practice in New Jersey. Mr. Cohn is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, the New Jersey Supreme Court (Standing Master), and Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic Vicinages (Commercial Arbitrator). He earned his B.A. degree, magna cum laude, from Hobart College and his J.D. degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was a member of the editorial staff for the Virginia Journal of International Law.
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