How associates use technology to advance their careers

Law firm associates understand the importance of getting it right and getting it fast when it comes to their legal research. For Sarah-Michelle Stearns and Mario H. Nguyen, first-year associates at Locke Lord LLP, that means using technology to help their partners put together the strongest case for their clients. Stearns is an associate in the firm’s litigation group, and Nguyen is an associate in white collar criminal defense and investigations.

Both Stearns and Nguyen spend a majority of their time doing research, and both know that they need to complete assignments quickly without sacrificing the quality of their work. As Stearns explains, “Quick answers mean everything to the partners, who are essentially my clients at this stage in my career. They’re looking for somebody who can find the answer quickly and to make sure that it’s accurate.”

Locke Lord, an AmLaw 100 firm serving clients around the world in a variety of litigation and transactional matters, was among the first firms to adopt Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge. This next-generation solution includes several features designed to streamline routine tasks that allow Stearns and Nguyen to reliably find the information they need every time. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) trained by expert reference attorneys and an incomparable data set curated and maintained for more than 140 years.

Adding value to the firm

For first-year associates trying to establish themselves at their firms, it’s important to complete research assignments fast and efficiently so they can be involved in more cases. Doing so, Stearns and Nguyen say, gives them more visibility with firm leadership and positions them for projects with more responsibility.

As Nguyen explains, “With the Litigation Analytics feature on Westlaw Edge, I can set out hard data and statistics to back up my recommendations. When I’m providing that kind of insight, partners begin to listen to what I have to say and give some consideration to my ideas.” Stearns adds, “The partners don’t expect me to have the correct advice as a first-year associate, but they do expect me to spot all the potential problems. Because of Westlaw Edge, I’m much more confident that I’ve found all of those pitfalls.”

Both Stearns and Nguyen talked about the efficiency Westlaw Edge brings to their work and the impact that efficiency has on their careers. As Nguyen explained, “For me, 15 minutes is a lot. Being a first-year associate, you’re always pressed for time with multiple people needing your help. So, 15 minutes of saved time can be the difference between being able to help a partner on a new matter and not being staffed on the matter at all.”

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