law talk tuesday: how to succeed as a summer associate.

4 Mar

Last week I spoke on a panel put on by a campus organization I’m part of – the St. Thomas More Honor Society – and it was all about how to succeed as a Summer Associate.  I spoke along with four other 3Ls about our experiences working as summer associates at “big law” firms the summer between 2L and 3L.  I thought I’d share some take-away points from the panel.

  • Work flow –  The workflow during a summer associate position can vary – some of the other summers in my class were constantly bogged down, whereas I was scrounging around for work the last week or so.  The important thing is being able to effectively manage your time, while at the same time not turning down any assignment that may come your way from an attorney. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for work from your work flow coordinator or an assigning attorney you’ve worked with in the past!
  • Assignment Tips
    • After receiving an assignment from an attorney, it’s generally a good idea to respond with an e-mail recapping what the assignment is and what question you’re being asked to research, as well as the format of the assignment and when it is due.  That way, before the assignment even gets going you and the assigning attorney are on the same page).
    • When submitting an assignment, it’s a good idea to end your e-mail with the attachment by saying “Please let me know if you’d like me to do anything else related to this.”  This provides a natural conclusion to your e-mail and demonstrates interest.
    • Social events – One of the best things about being a Summer Associate is that there are tons of social events, and free lunches. (No, really.  Whoever said “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” clearly wasn’t a summer associate).  With that inevitably comes alcohol.  My advice would be to match the tone of the event.  If everyone is having one glass of wine or beer, don’t be the person drinking his or her third rum and coke.  On the other hand, if all of the partners and associates are downing shots, you don’t want to come off as the wet blanket who doesn’t know how to have fun, either.  My advice is to use your judgment and to know yourself, and remember that even a fun night out is still an extended interview.
    • Final tips
      • One of the other panelists, Rose, suggested a book called “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law” by Mark Herrman to read before beginning a summer associate position.
      • Don’t engage in gossip with attorneys about other attorneys (probably just a good general life rule).
      • Take constructive criticism well.
      • Don’t mistake “invitations” to meetings or social events as optional – they’re not.

Any other law students out there? What tips would you add?

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4 Responses to “law talk tuesday: how to succeed as a summer associate.”

  1. Kaley March 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    I think these are all really good tips, even for a career in general, not just law.

  2. Coco March 5, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    These are good tips. From the other side of the desk, I would suggest not hesitating to ask questions (and follow-up questions) on assignments and not drinking too much at social events. Your tip about gossip is important, because gossiping can be seen as a sign of lack of discretion, which is not a good thing for an attorney who needs clients to trust them!

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