Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Importance of Asking Questions by Justin Steele

            When I first started here at Rice, Amundsen & Caperton I was told that I should ask as many questions as was necessary to get the job done right.   I was, of course, reluctant to do that because I believed that it would seem like dumb questions or like I was less capable than other people in the office.  However, the truth of the matter is that everyone asks questions and asks a lot of questions.  I quickly learned the value of making sure to get all the information on the front end. 
            All of the staff here and Larry himself are very accepting and understanding of asking a lot of questions.  When I get a new assignment or project I spend a significant amount of time asking questions.  Who is it for?  What’s the story behind this?  What are we trying to accomplish?  How long do I have to get it done?  Where do you want me to send it, file it, save it?  In my opinion, this is one of the most fundamental skills of working in a law office.  Whether it’s a big firm with big name clients, or a small firm, cases get complicated and it can be difficult to know about all the developments or positions that need to be taken.  Therefore, we ask a lot of questions.
           While asking questions is fundamental to understanding the goals and tasks that are assigned to you, it is not the only thing that we do to make sure everyone is on the same page.  We spend time discussing the cases in meetings and trying to figure out the best way to approach each case.  These meetings are the place where law clerks like me get to sit down and ask a lot of questions and see how attorneys organize and strategize in complex litigation.  Asking questions in and out of meetings and before or during assignments is the best way to start learning the practice of law.

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