A Young Lawyer and MSCD Reader Seeks a More Fulfilling Position

In this recent post I introduced the idea of putting job notices on this blog, with the aim of perhaps helping anyone who has hopes of finding a new employee from among readers of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. Now let’s look at this from the perspective of someone looking for a job.

Below is an email I received from a reader. In it, she expresses frustration with her current job. She lives in the New York metropolitan area, so I met her for coffee. We agreed that it would make sense for her to look for a new job. If you’re in the market for a competent junior lawyer to help with your transactional work, you’re welcome to read her email and my appended observations.

I’m writing to ask your advice about how a new lawyer should handle resistance from an experienced lawyer regarding modern contract drafting.

I work in the in-house legal department of a mid-size company. I took contract drafting classes in law school. My professor was a proponent of modern contract drafting, and I embraced it. I was happy when I found your website. I consult it regularly, and recently I purchased A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting.

I started as a legal intern at my current company, and I worked there part-time all through law school. I was offered no training, but I muddled through, learning by doing. When I graduated from law school, in 2017, my company hired me as a lawyer.

I’m grateful to have my job, but my boss isn’t a fan of clear, concise contract drafting.

For example, recently my boss instructed me to add to all our form contracts a provision saying the recitals are incorporated by reference. But I know that doesn’t make sense. Furthermore, two recitals in our standard set of recitals relate to substantive issues that should instead be addressed in the body of the contract.

I explained this to my boss, with some trepidation. I’m keenly aware that I’m a new lawyer, and the last thing someone more experienced wants is a pipsqueak handing out advice. But I care about this stuff, so I spoke up anyway. My boss wasn’t interested, saying I should know what I’m talking about before offering opinions on such matters. So I backed off.

This sort of thing happens regularly. I feel underused and underappreciated, and I know I’m not learning as much as I should be learning.

I’ve looked for other transactional work, but with no luck, presumably because I’m so junior and because I didn’t go to an Ivy League law school and wasn’t in the top 5% of my class. But I’m determined, resourceful, and a hard worker.

I know you encounter resistance—you certainly write about it a lot!—so I thought you might have some suggestions about how to survive in a workplace with a boss that doesn’t appreciate the value of clear drafting. Should I just cave and do it my boss’s way? Will I be able to unlearn the bad habits I’m currently acquiring? Should I switch to a different kind of practice?

An impeccable resume is nice, but what I get enthusiastic about is someone who didn’t go to the best schools and doesn’t have the best grades but does have plenty of drive. Gumption. Initiative. You get the idea.

From what I’ve seen, my reader has a good amount of that. For one thing, she was the first in her family to go to graduate school. That means she has shown more determination than I ever had to muster, coming as I do from a family of smart, overeducated people. And she had the wit to contact me.

Obviously, she would like to continue working with contracts. She’s happy in the New York metropolitan area, but she’s also open to relocating for the right opportunity.

If you’d like to find out more about her, you can email her at juniorlegalny@gmail.com. Tell her Ken sent you!

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.