Office Etiquette for New Attorneys

Do not wear headphones in your office.  Ever.  Period.  Let me explain.

I. The Generational Gap

In every legal practice, there is a distinct age and generational gap between the oldest and youngest attorneys in the office.  As a rule, it is the responsibility of the new lawyers to impress the more senior attorneys.  This is how we move forward, this is how we build relationships, and this is how we learn and perfect our craft.  

II. The Message Headphones Send To Your Colleagues

Now, I can assure you, the more senior attorneys in your office will not identify with you if you are wearing headphones every time they walk by or stop in to talk to you.  Wearing headphones signals that you are not focused on your work.  It suggests that your attention is divided.  It makes others feel as though they are interrupting you when they walk into your office.  And, most importantly, it screams "I can't hear you!"  None of these are sentiments you want to convey to your colleagues, and this is particularly true if you intend to rely on your colleagues as mentors, sources of work, and advocates for you down the line.   

III. Just Ask!

Even if you think this rule does not apply to you or your firm or office, I assure you it does.  If you don't believe me, go ahead and ask your boss or managing partner what he or she thinks about this.  Have reservations about doing so . . . ?  Well, there's your answer.  

Desiree Moore is the President and founder of Greenhorn Legal, LLC. Greenhorn Legal offers intensive practical skills training programs for law students and new lawyers as they transition from law school into their legal practices.  Ms. Moore is also an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and was an associate at the law firm of K&L Gates. She can be found on Twitter at @greenhornlegal.