Advice column: my boss spends his time looking for new business; how do I find support when I need it?
Dear Ash
I have a new boss who has only recently joined the firm. Despite him being proclaimed as a real asset to the firm, I have found him to be lacking in knowledge in relation to some critical issues. All he seems to do is go out to long lunches and dinners with potential clients; he seems to leave all the follow-up legal work and the details to me and the other more junior team members. Recently he asked me to produce some critical documentation, which I was happy to do, but when I asked him some key questions he said he didn’t know the answers and expected me to be able to work it out!
I am happy to work independently but as I am much more junior I still need input from time to time and my last boss was quite supportive and helpful in this regard. 
Ash replies:
It seems that your new boss is focusing all efforts on bringing in potential new business, and as you say is leaving the follow-up work to you and others. This often happens in circumstances where the priority for the firm is for new business to be generated; however, there needs to be a balance between focusing on new business and ensuring that the quality of the work is to a certain standard. There seems little point in making great attempts to generate new clients if they are then dissatisfied with the quality of the work. You therefore are quite right in asking for assistance when required and you should not shirk away from insisting on support if you need it. 
There is also a balance to be struck for you at a personal development level, in that you need to have the confidence and support to be able to work independently where required but also feel that you can rely on others when needed. 
If your new boss seems reluctant or unable to provide you with the support you need to progress matters, it may be that you need to identify someone else more senior in your team or within the firm who could assist you. Perhaps a partner from another department may be able to step in temporarily to assist more junior members of the team whilst your boss is focusing on new business ideas? If you can make a suggestion to your boss as to who may be able to assist with critical decisions, or indeed signing of documentation, whilst he is out of the office, he may appreciate your efforts in making his life easier!
Send your queries to Ash
“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor:, or mail to Suite 6b, 1 Carmichael Place, Edinburgh EH6 5PH. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.
Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team.
For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162, or by email:
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