Legal Practice

What If I Don’t Like My Intern?

Ok, so first I figure this was a good time to post this when I have NO interns assigned to me so that no one can think this is me throwing shade. I’ve manage a lot of interns since I began practicing–a lot. And if you ask any attorney that works with students frequently, they’ll tell you some interns they LOVED and some…were their interns lol. So I know that as new attorneys, working with students, we end up working with a medley of people and some we like, some we don’t. That’s normal–everyone isn’t for everybody, you know? But it can be difficult when we have a duty to work with students and make sure they are gaining skills. This has to be easier for attorneys who were teachers in a past, right? But for those of us that don’t have that talent, trust me it can be tedious working with someone that te cae mal, you know?

So what can you do to make sure you remain professional but don’t lose your mind working with someone that annoys you?

First, focus on the work. The best way to temper your feelings during your interactions is to focus on the work. Yes, this person annoys you, but ask yourself 1) are they getting the work done? 2) is the quality of the work done well? 3) are they helping you reach your client goals? It’s vital that you don’t let any personality clashes stop you from producing good work. For example, say you had a student who is a whiz at research, but they also really annoy you. Is it worth not using that asset that could help your client just because this person isn’t your fave? Probably not. Focus on the work. The rest is noise.

It’s also important to check yourself. It is so easy to let your mood or annoyance show through your facial expressions or curt responses. Think of a past volatile boss or even a current coworker who tends to get overly emotional. No one wants to be around that–and while you’re not trying to cultivate bffs, you do want to create a good relationships. Unless a student has done something beyond the bounds, strive to be as professional and neutral (at least) as possible. In some cases, just take a deep a breath before calling a student over to talk them through an assignment.

Finally, remember that you’re not so perfect either. LOL this is really a dig at myself. I have one of those Seinfeld personalities that is easily annoyed by a lot of things–issa problem. Because I know this about myself, I try to take it easy when something bothers me because sometimes if I wait, whatever is “triggering” may very well dissipate.

I know this seems like a lot of work, especially over someone that isn’t your cup of tea, and when it’s a student, it’s easy to be dismissive because of the power dynamic. But I would caution you to rethink that approach and stop acting as if  you won’t see this person again after the semester/summer.  (I mean if they’re especially grating than maybe/hopefully you’re right). But never forget that the legal community is small! Even entry-level associates eventually move up in rank–you don’t want to burn bridges that could potentially exist for your career.

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