“When firms do a good job with the basics, happy summer associates result.”
That sound advice comes from Abbie Willard and Lisa Abrams, two top career-services officials at The University of Chicago Law School.
But what exactly are those “basics”?
These two veterans sifted through years of experience to find ways for firms to rise above the competition.
- Provide strong orientation programming, including information about evaluation measures.
- Provide plenty of feedback and train attorneys how to provide that feedback.
- Help students develop realistic work expectations by allowing them to do the type of work they would do as new associates.
- Make sure work projects are available as soon as the summer associates arrive—feeling underused and undervalued can be as bad as feeling overwhelmed.
- Explain at orientation that social events are not just “social events”—explain how the impression students make during participation (or by not participating) affects their futures at the firm.
- Provide a variety of social events for students of all ages and at all life stages (sometimes older students are uncomfortable with the settings of some events, or nondrinkers feel uncomfortable at events hosted at bars, etc.).
- Provide substantive training programs that help students work more effectively and efficiently, and help them develop their portfolio of skills.
Abbie Willard is Associate Dean for Career Services at The University of Chicago Law School; Lisa Abrams is Director of Career Services.