NY Lawyer has some interesting tips for you young big-firmers out there, regarding how not to behave in your first few months on the job. First, try to cover up your mistakes. Then abuse the staff. Finally, badmouth firm administration and clients. Oh, drink lots of booze and send angry emails.
In other words, act like an arsehole:
Most of what you need to know about getting along in the social setting of a law firm you probably (should have) learned in kindergarten. Consider just these few simple rules:
• If you're not sure how to behave, ask for help. Most of the time, a colleague, a supervisor (and surprisingly perhaps, often a staff member) can steer you toward what will be considered acceptable in a given situation.
• If you make a mistake (and especially if you think you've hurt someone's feelings), apologize and ask what you can do to rectify the situation.
• Learn to play nice. You don't have to become a Stepford associate, but you should be able to muster basic civility every day, in every encounter in a law firm. If you're just too grumpy to be nice, shut your door until the mood passes, or go home and give it another try tomorrow. And if you blow your top at some point, re-read the prior rule (apologize).
Boy, how many flameouts have we known who didn't figure out how to behave and who quickly passed through big firm doors? Sadly, some of them managed to stick around.