One of the better (non-Seth Godin) business books that I’ve read in a long time is Michael Watkins’ The First 90 Days. Watkins is a Harvard Business School professor and a job transition expert. While much of the book is geared towards a business world transition rather than a law firm transition, (so it is easily applicable to in-house jobs) there is much to be gleaned by all attorneys.

Besides the obvious transition tips of gaining early wins, learning about existing intra-team coalitions and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of those on your team, Watkins spends a lot of time discussing how important it is to come into a new position WITHOUT the proverbial “guns blazing.” Everyone thinks that a go-getter will be well-respected and instantly build credibility, but Watkins argues that the best transitions are made after someone spends a fair amount of time in their new position just listening and learning. He lays out a plan for 30-90 days of learning before major moves are made. In this time you learn about the company/firm, the culture and alliances. You can make your best decisions after having this strong base of knowledge.

Of course if you are at a firm, you need to service your clients and bill hours, but maybe before charging into meetings once you arrive, you sit back and listen to your new colleagues.

I found the book to be a very quick read and a great resource for someone at any level who has made a move (or is contemplating a move).