I was reminded today of the importance of protecting your reputation as a lawyer. I was contacted by someone who wanted to apply for an attorney opportunity at a firm where she was a summer associate many years ago. Normally this is a great opportunity to work with a firm that is at least vaguely-familiar with your work – even if it was many years since you worked there. Unfortunately, knowing that this wasn’t where she wanted to work, this attorney put in minimal effort and received less-than-glowing reviews of her summer performance. Everyone was happy when the summer ended.

Fast forward a dozen years and now this firm is in a position to hire someone with her exact skillset, and her clients would be well serviced by this once-rebuked firm. It’s too bad that her actions many years ago likely tainted the well for what could have been a great fit.

The moral of the story: do your best work, or at the very least do what is needed to maintain your good reputation. Had this attorney done even a marginal job years ago, this attorney might be able to approach this firm about an opportunity.