Young Practitioners Committee Kicks Off Virtual Discussion Series

Published: June 15, 2020

Daniela Rojas Pirkey Barber PLLC Austin, Texas, USA Young Practitioners Committee

INTA’s Young Practitioners Committee on May 7 successfully kicked off its first virtual discussion series, geared to help practitioners on how best to adapt to the digital workplace. The first discussion was on Digital Onboarding. 

David Bowden, associate at Clark Wilson LLP (Vancouver, Canada), and Crystal Prais, associate at Fenwick & West LLP (New York, New York, USA), led the discussion on how to best start a new job in a digital workplace environment. As the COVID-19 pandemic pushed law firms and companies to transition to remote working, employees starting a new job face the challenges of learning and adapting to new employers from home, through a computer. 

Mr. Bowden spoke from the perspective of both the employer and employee. He recommended that people starting a new job ask for “‘to-do’ documents, which include timelines and expectations to obtain guidance from your employer,” and to “set your own personal plan to easily move into the workplace culture.” Also, make sure to “identify who is who on each team, look up their photos, and connect with people one on one. Don’t be afraid to reach out.”

Ms. Prais provided tips and tricks on how to ease the onboarding process for yourself and your employer, and on video conference etiquette. She highlighted the importance of quickly becoming familiar with the technology and IT platforms used by the employer as well as the key people on the team. She also explained that it is important to dedicate a space at home that will provide a good environment to work and for video conferencing. As for etiquette, she said, do not be late to a video conference, try to connect a few minutes early to check audio, camera, and lighting, mute yourself while people are talking, and be aware of the background and your clothes. If you don’t want to turn on the camera, make sure you add a professional photo that will appear with your name.

The 34 participants were double the initial registration limit, and took part eagerly in the discussion. Questions were raised on setting boundaries and the issue of being available at all times, to which speakers said it is okay to step out and log out—and to disconnect if needed. With regard to performance during the pandemic, speakers recommended keeping an open line of communication, informing the team and supervisors if the workflow has lightened, as it might be good to turn your focus to other, non-billable work—but make sure you have work product to show. 

Participants were also reminded that it is still possible to develop relationships with peers and clients while working remotely. Keep the communication lines open, reach out to colleagues with whom you studied, use your social media to inform about your new job, and always keep visible as a new team member.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

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