This year, my topic for the CLEBC full-day conference was “How to Be a Good Litigation Junior”. As I prepared for my presentation, I couldn’t help but think about what I might say if I was invited to a similar conference aimed at senior lawyers: “How to be a Good Litigation Partner.”

Leadership is a learned skill that develops with attention and effort. There are so many books and courses on leadership because it isn’t easy. It is all about human skills that are never perfected, only bettered. Many well-meaning, kind and ethical litigation partners have some blind spots when it comes to their leadership.

Leadership is challenging and unlike physical appearance, you can’t quickly look in the mirror to see what needs to be adjusted. Feedback is needed for learning how to improve as a leader, and associates are unlikely to provide this.

Here are three commonly arising scenarios:

  1. Taking on a new file before discussing or knowing the workload of the juniors who it will impact.
  2. Chronic last minute delegation.
  3. A deluge of emails to junior lawyers late at night, on weekends, or in the morning before sunrise.

To better your leadership in the above scenarios start by treating your juniors with respect as colleagues.

  1. Before taking on the juicy file that will impact their schedules, talk it over with the juniors.
  2. If you are a disorganized litigator, give this aspect of your practice some attention. Work with a coach on strategies to better your practice management.
  3. Use the delay send feature in your email program.  Have a conversation with juniors about your respective work styles and expectations.

In the end, your approach to leadership is how you act on your values. Read the full article here and the questions for reflection as you work on being a good (or better) Litigation Partner.