Posted by: LYF | August 31, 2008

“Look at last year’s file”

I was very nervous the first time I got a file. I didn’t even know what a file was or what I was supposed to do with it. I looked at it for a while and got really nervous until I finally worked up the courage to ask someone for help. “Oh just look at last year’s file and do what they did.” That’s what I was told.

This is an awful experience. You sit around feeling like an idiot, looking at a bunch of papers that make little to no sense. It’s like trying to write an essay from another person’s rough notes; written a year ago. It’s close to impossible when you don’t understand what you are looking at.

This makes having a “go-to” person key. Someone who’s been around the office for a few years, knows the ropes and doesn’t mind walking you through a file. Having people like that to depend on has saved me hours of frustration. More importantly, it’s saved me from looking like a complete idiot in front of a partner, which is much more valuable.



  1. Which leads to the stellar response, “but last year’s file sucks.”

  2. I’m passed this stage…at the moment, I sit at my desk trying to to muster the courage to go and ask the partner some questions about the file I’m working on. Email communication between staff in our office is really big (or so I’m assuming), but I don’t know if I should email, call or go directly to their office and ask away. I don’t know which one is the most polite/typical way. I’m at a standstill on two of my files, because I’m too nervous to approach the partner…ahhrhfjshjahhh…what should I do? huhuhu…

  3. Before going to anyone try to come up with some possible answers on your own. That way when you go to someone for help you can say, “I’m not sure whether I should be doing option A or option B. What makes sense to you?” That way it looks like you’ve actually done some work. Asking questions like “What is this?” or “I don’t get this.” Aren’t very useful because they don’t allow someone to help you effectively.

    I’d recommend going to an employee first, preferably someone at the same level as you. If they don’t understand then try someone a little hire up. I’ve found face-to-face is best. E-mail can seem a little formal for file prep questions.

    I’ve also found it helpful to find out who did the file the year before. Then you can just go and ask them. They probably won’t remember, but they’ll feel obligated to help a bit because they’ll feel like they should remember it.

    Anyways, don’t just “sit and spin.” That’s always a bad move.

    Hope that helps?

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