Advice for New Lawyers from Attorney Jeremy Goldstein
Mar 31, 2020 03:55 PM EDT
Jeremy L. Goldstein is a partner at Jeremy L. Goldstein & Associates LLC, a boutique law firm dedicated to advising and consulting CEOs, management teams, corporations and compensation committees. The firm specializes in executive compensation and corporate governance matters, particularly in the context of transformative corporate events and sensitive situations.
Mr. Goldstein is recognized as a leading executive compensation lawyer in Chambers USA Guide to America's Leading Lawyers for Business and The Legal 500. He is chair of the Mergers & Acquisition Subcommittee of the Executive Compensation Committee of the American Bar Association Business Section. Additionally, Mr. Goldstein is a member of the Board of Directors of Fountain House, a charity dedicated to the recovery of men and women with mental illness.
Mr. Goldstein has a J.D. from New York University School of Law, an M.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.A. cum laude and with distinction in all subjects from Cornell University.
Mr. Goldstein has been involved in many of the largest corporate transactions of the past decade, including the pending acquisition of eviCore by Express Scripts; the acquisition of Truven Health Analytics by IBM; Westlake/Axiall; Goodrich/United Technologies; Duke Energy/Progress Energy; Oracle/BEA Systems, Inc.; Sanofi-Aventis/Genzyme; Merck/Schering Plough Corporation; The Dow Chemical Company/Rohm and Haas Company; Goldman Sachs et al./Kinder Morgan, Inc.; Verizon Wireless/ALLTEL Corporation; Goldman Sachs and TPG/ALLTEL Corporation; NYSE Group Inc./Euronext; Bank of America Corporation/MBNA Corporation; SBC Communications Inc./AT&T Corp.; Chevron Texaco Corporation/Unocal Corporation; Kmart Holding Corporation/Sears, Roebuck and Co.; Sanofi-Synthelabo SA/Aventis SA; Cingular Wireless Corporation/AT&T Wireless Services, Inc.; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co./Bank One Corporation; Bank of America Corporation/FleetBoston Financial Corp.; South African Breweries plc/Miller Brewing Company; and Phillips Petroleum Company/Conoco Inc. Mr. Goldstein is also involved with the pending acquisition of eviCore by Express Scripts.
Mr. Goldstein writes and speaks frequently on corporate governance and executive compensation issues. Recently, he sat down and offered his top advice for attorneys just starting out in the legal field.
Studying your profession on your own time is one of the best ways to stay committed to learning. It might sound like a tall order to use personal and spare time to read up on law, but the more you do when you're starting out, the further you'll be ahead of your colleagues every step of the way. Part of standing out in the legal field is specializing. Researching is the best way to identify what area you feel strongest about and then pursue it.
For well-established fields of law, read as many treatises as you can. For a new, burgeoning area, familiarize yourself as much as possible and start writing what you can about it. This could be crucial for honing your expertise. Not to mention, the best way to learn something is to teach it to others.
Be Open to Mentors
Mentors can be tricky. They are only as good as their advice and their honesty. That's why it's good practice to talk to as many veteran attorneys and legal professionals as possible. Sometimes you'll hear conflicting advice, but the more people you hear from, the more experiences you'll have to draw from by proxy.
The best mentors are honest. They won't always tell you what you want to hear, but that usually means you need to hear it. You'll have to learn some things the hard way, everybody does, but let older, wiser lawyers lead you away from your worst impulses.
Make Friends with Your Peers
The best established attorneys will have their own practices to run -- a good thing to aspire to. So make friends with peers who are just starting out with you. Some of these peers will be lifelong colleagues, and maybe even partners one day. Some of them you might end up on opposite sides of a case in court with. It will behoove you both to have a pleasant working relationship, which starts with mutual respect, and that starts with getting to know each other.
Watch Out for Scams...But Pay for the Important Stuff
Like with everything in life, there's a time to pay good money, but make sure you're getting everything that money is worth. Think of the money you spend as an investment: are you going to get a return? How much? When? What are the risks?
Every scam starts somewhere. But don't be fooled. Where do those scams come from? If you believe you need to "look the part", what kind of investment will that lead to? Luxury clothes and accessories; sports cars; depreciating assets in the legal business. A time will come when you can treat yourself, but before you've become a successful lawyer, all you'll be doing with those accessories is playing dress up.
In the meantime, save your money and invest in your future as an attorney.
Take Care of Your Brain. That Means Take Care of Your Body.
Eat right, get sleep, exercise. It's simple, but incredibly challenging for a number of reasons. A high-intensity profession like this is very demanding. It's demanding of our time, which makes it harder to eat right and exercise, and it's demanding of our minds which makes it harder to get adequate sleep. But our brains are our best asset as lawyers. Sleep, exercise, and a balanced diet are all essential to keep our mental faculties performing at pique levels.
This profession and its rewards are only as valuable as your own physical and mental health; if you're sick and stressed within an inch of sanity, you'll have no room to enjoy them. It may take a while to hit your stride and reap those rewards, but don't let that lead you down a path where you can't enjoy yourself right now. This career requires dedication, and poor health makes it hard to concern yourself with anything else. Plus, one day you'll want to retire and enjoy your hard work; don't let deferred healthy choices cost you later in life.
Be Practical and Take Advantage of Modern Technology
Like with any aspect of modern life, the internet has absolutely revolutionized law practice. Take advantage of this. Digitize your records and case notes so you'll never have to worry about losing them. Invest in client software. I've personally found TurboScan invaluable. Having an adept awareness of the internet will give you an edge during trials. Whether defending or prosecuting, the internet will come into play for your case.
On the other hand, stay professional. Use valid, vetted sources when researching, whether for your own edification or for a case.
Make It Work For You
No matter how much advice you get, only you will be able to determine what works for you. Unhealthy habits won't be sustainable, but that might be something you need to find out for yourself. Or maybe the way a fellow up-and-coming attorney swears by practicing law just doesn't yield the same results for you. It's good to plan for the future, but you'll only know what works for you once faced with certain situations. After enough of these situations, you'll find yourself doling out your own advice. Which leads to the last point...
One day you'll find yourself giving your own advice to beginning lawyers. Be generous. Make time when you can and extend your (honest) guidance to them.