Getting In Touch With My Inner Associate

If anyone reading this blog has not read–and read often–Associate’s Mind, you must absolutely begin following it. Every post has some nugget of brilliance.

Before I  actually read the blog, I assumed from the title I would encounter either (1) ranting about the misery of being an overworked albeit overpaid BigLaw associate à la the old Greedy Associates message boards;* or (2) posts like “Five Easy Tips To Bill 2,700 Hours Before October!” I couldn’t have been more off-base. Instead, I’ve always found thoughtful, well-written posts offering insight on topics ranging from the profession to litigation strategy to Eastern Philosophy.

And, now that I’ve been a partner in an AmLaw 150 law firm for almost 10 years, I feel qualified to endorse the following observation by the blog’s author, Keith Lee:

“Although frequently people speak of always thinking like a “partner” or “partner-level” thinking when in regards to how one should conduct oneself inside a firm –  reject the notion. Just as in the mind of the master there are few possibilities and in the Beginner’s mind, infinite – most partners have fixed ways of thinking and conducting their practice and processes.

An Associate’s Mind should be flexible and open to new ideas and processes, while being mindful of the guidance of those who have tread the road before him.”

I recognize this tendency in myself to “have fixed ways of thinking and conducting [my] practice and processes,” and I don’t like it. When he refers to the beauty of the “Beginner’s mind,” I think I may know what Lee means: I love to watch how my 4-year-old approaches any new issue, problem or obstacle. Her thinking is always “outside the box” (or whatever cliché you prefer) because she hasn’t yet been trained to think inside the box.

As we gain experience and, hopefully, wisdom in our profession and our life, we should strive to retain the infinite possibilities of the Beginner’s mind.

*Note: I have not read Greedy Associates in many years, so I don’t know if such ranting still persists, though I expect it does.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the kind words.

    I try hard to make the posts be worthwhile and not make people stupider. I don’t always succeed, but I try my best.

    And yes, children are the best source of inspiration for a Beginner’s Mind. I have a little boy that just turned 3 and watching him approach problems is fascinating. Definitely an example of how to always approach problems with a blank slate.


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