The good news: most summer associates love the experience. The bad news: it’s harder for you to stand out.
I asked students at The George Washington University Law School, where I teach, how firms could ease the transition to law-firm life. The “wish lists” included everything from golf lessons to quicker feedback.
Here are some representative quotations:
- “Better rotation systems. These systems can produce huge discrepancies in the amount of work that each summer associate had at any time throughout the summer. I believe rotations provide a summer associate with the best way to learn about each practice group and I would recommend such a system for all law firms. However, I would also recommend that the firm put one person in charge of all summer associate assignments—probably the head of the summer program. Then, the individual practice groups could give an assignment to the ‘head of the summer program’ who could then in turn give the assignment to the summer associate in need of work. This would produce a balanced system.”
- “Formal training on the firm’s document procurement operating system would be key. Since many summer associates have no formal experience with the format and structure of a particular practice group’s style, digging up old documents can be an efficient way of preparing memos.”
- “A front-loaded feedback system would better prepare a summer for the duration of the summer. If summers had a mentor to review their first handful of workproducts, they may better grasp what is expected of them. I found that often times I was submitting a new memo or chart without having any feedback on my prior project. Some mistakes may have been eliminated had I had more attention early on. Ultimately, this guidance could taper off as the summer progresses since the summer associate will become more acclimated to his environment.”
- “No weekend events! My law firm had a number of weekend events such as a fancy brunch, golf outing, etc. Although these events were not mandatory, there’s great pressure to attend because all summer associates want to impress the firm and appear interested. However, students work hard during the academic year and would much prefer to take weekends off during the summer.”
- “A golf lesson (for those less athletically gifted who can’t quite make it onto the course).”
- “More courtroom outings.”