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Advice to my younger self
Chicago partner Ray Bogenrief reflects on what he has learned during his career

Ray Bogenrief is the Graduate Hiring Partner in our Chicago office. He reflects on what he has learned during his career.

Diversity is a positive attribute that can reap benefits
I've really come to value diversity in every respect for optimal outcomes for our clients. When you have people who think differently, or bring an interesting perspective to an issue by virtue of personal experience or otherwise, it becomes a true capability. Far from being just a "box check," a diverse team is at a competitive advantage.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes
As lawyers, we like to hone things to perfection and we're comfortable with certainty. But when you consciously move outside your comfort zone, that's where you really learn and development your practice. Always try to do a little more than you think you might be capable of and don't be afraid to make mistakes, but learn from each one. Such an approach will fast-track your learning curve.

The nature of feedback will change
When I was a junior associate, feedback as a general practice or exercise was often non-existent or negative, when it was actually provided. The absence of explicitly negative feedback was essentially a very positive review. We've pivoted to a practice of an associate expectation of more positive reinforcement on a consistent basis. Don't let that desire dissuade you from expanding into new work or allowing constructive criticism to affect your work and abilities. 

You can develop your own management style
I've worked for a number of partners who expected associates to bill 3,000 hours a year and commit their entire life to work. It was a tough experience, but I developed significant substantive skills and experience during that time. As importantly, the process also informed my approach in respect of management style. In particular, I realized that in pursuit of building a team member's capabilities, it's important to encourage the development of the person as a whole (both personally and professionally). It's a worthwhile habit to study what partners do and implement things you like into your management style and, as important, avoid what you dislike! 

Networking and business development starts early
In time, your cohorts at other firms or within clients will become the decision makers in respect of choice of counsel themselves. Build those relationships from your first day as a summer associate, and actively deepen those relationships that can make you an invaluable member of a client relationship, which will grow over time. It's never too soon to be cognizant of business development opportunities. 

Face-to-face meetings are invaluable
At White & Case, international travel to meet clients or to spend time in one of our other global offices is the expectation, not the exception. This continuity between offices and the rapport with my fellow partners builds real relationships. The same goes for clients—instead of only connecting on conference calls, I always try to have a lunch or a coffee where we can discuss weekend plans and shared interests as well as work. Clients invariably view your work through the lens of their impression of you as a person — make it a good one!

Know why you're doing it, not just what you're doing
As an associate on a steep learning curve, you can find yourself just going from task to task and solely concentrating on what's right in front of you. Make an effort to think about how your work fits into the bigger picture of the mandate and what the logical next step or larger issues might be and how your work fits into that broader universe. 

Extracurricular accomplishments are important
When I'm interviewing potential associates, I'm always keen to see what a candidate brings in addition to academic excellence and an intellectual curiosity to the practice of law. Whether that's an achievement on the sports field, in the arts or something else, it shows that someone has the tenacity and resilience to persevere and go for the win.

You can have the best of all worlds
Working at White & Case gives you access to our vast global infrastructure and a chance to be at the heart of a rapidly expanding firm. This is somewhere where entrepreneurially minded people who want to make their mark can succeed. And Chicago is a fantastic place to work and live. It's a great sports town too—especially when the local teams are doing well.
 

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