Entering the Ring on the First Day of Work

By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 19, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In professional boxing, fighters usually start the first round by touching gloves and lightly jabbing for a few minutes. Nobody comes out swinging for the fences in the first round. It is more like a fencing match, as opponents parry to ward off blows and gauge their distance.

It is a tried and true strategy to size up your competition in the first three minutes of a fight. It's a good idea when starting a new job at a law firm, too.


Like boxing, the law is inherently competitive. It is an adversary system, whether in law school, the courtroom or the workplace. The key to survival is to understand and play by the rules.

With a new job, you have to start with an open mind to whatever the boss throws at you. Go in ready to learn"You may be going into a new position driven to do something, but first spend time listening and understanding the culture," says Kristi Hedges for Forbes.


Once you have felt your way through the first part of the day, typically onboarding and meeting colleauges, focus on your game plan. What, you didn't know you needed one?

Look, just because Floyd Mayweather, Jr. made about $300 million dollars on his last fight -- which lasted about half an hour -- don't think he didn't have a game plan. Known as a great counter-puncher, Mayweather's plan throughout his career was "don't get hit, and hit back fast."

Likewise, you should have a plan before you start the job. Put it in writing with goals and benchmarks for 30, 60, and 90 days, and review it frequently.


By the end of the first day, you should have sized up your competition and set your eyes on the next round. Work, and life in general, is often a battle.

But that doesn't mean you should literally fight anybody, especially in the firm. You are fighting for a prize. Even in a competitive law firm environment, you should respect everyone who is striving for the firm's goals. If you didn't get invited to lunch the first day or two, invite yourself next time. It's about team bonding.

Boxers, after knocking each other around in a fight, often embrace at the end because they are professionals. It is their job, and they respect each other for giving it their all. Lawyers, whether it's their first day or fourth decade, would do well to carry this lesson when dealing with both co-counsel and opposing counsel. 

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