I’m writing this week to help lawyers starting their first job in a law firm this week.

Over the years, I have been asked many times to give a presentation Starting Right for Career Success. If you click you will see that in October, I will give this presentation to young Boston lawyers.

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My challenge will be not to overload them with too much information. I want to give one “ah ha” moment take away that they can actually use their first year.

I recently thought about when I started in 1971. I had gone to University of Richmond Law School. Dean Muse required that we wear suits and ties to class.

I owned a couple. I remember one had cost $14.95 at a discount store. Nancy and I bought another suit along with two shirts, two ties and socks from a discount men’s store in Richmond for $49.95. While my two outfits met Dean Muse’s requirement, they looked their price.

When I finished law school in September and got my bar results, I went directly to the finest men’s store in all of Richmond to buy a suit that would enable me to actually look like a lawyer.

I remember finding a REALLY expensive suit for $295 and a really expensive tie. I was disappointed because I knew I couldn’t afford the suit and tie.

The salesman sensing my problem offered to let me pay $20 a month. That closed the sale for me. With my suit tie and the briefcase my father gave me I thought I at least looked like a real lawyer.

In December I would be going on active duty in the USAF, meaning my expensive suit would get a lot of closet time. For the two months before active duty I sought to get court appointed to as many cases as possible.

I vividly remember my first case. I represented a 14 year old accused of burglary. I visited the scene of the crime, where he had been caught along with a 35 year old coming out of a house with the homeowner’s TV. I interviewed his mother and the neighbors.

Then I met with my client in the county jail and prepared for my debut in court.

I arrived at court wearing my expensive suit and carrying the briefcase my dad gave me. When I met the judge and they brought my client in from the jail, I came to the realization that my 14 year old client had vastly more courtroom experience than me, including more experience with this judge.

I put on my best “save the trees, save the whales, save a poor, easily led astray 14 year old” defense. I argued this poor youngster had been led astray by his 35 year old partner.

When I finished what I thought was a compelling argument, the judge called me to the bench along with the prosecutor. When we got right in front of him, he said:

Mr. Parvin, that was a really good try. There is only one slight problem with your argument. Instead of the 35 year old leading your client astray. It was actually your 14 year old client who led the 35 year old man astray.

What is the lesson of my story for a first year lawyer?

Things are not always as they first appear. Dig deeper to find out what really happened. Make your best effort to see things that other lawyers miss.