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How to Succeed as a Summer Law Associate According to Our Law Partners

How to Succeed as a Summer Law Associate According to Our Law Partners


We asked the recruiters and legal professionals at our partner law firms to anonymously share their tips for succeeding as a Summer Associate. While these summer programs provide a slightly rose-colored view of what it's like to work as a practicing attorney, we recommend all law students use it as a serious opportunity for professional direction and personal growth. Read on to learn what our partners think of how to make the most of the experience.


Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  

There is a lot of opportunity, and risk, for error as someone will not have much practical on-the-job experience. It’s important to not make assumptions about assignments and get direction when you need it. One recruiting leader we spoke with stipulated, “However, recognize that it’s better to go to a senior person once with a number of questions than multiple times with single questions.”


Don’t be invisible.  

Make sure partners and full-time associates know you are around and ready to work. Don’t wait for work to come around to you, and instead proactively seek out assignments. 

This also applies to social interactions. “Don’t just fade away into the summer associate group,” says one legal professional we spoke with. “And be sure to make your availability and enthusiasm for social interactions known, without being over the top, of course.” This applies to the social activities being scheduled remotely, too.

Another says, “Just taking 15 minutes to grab coffee (or a virtual coffee chat) with a partner can make you memorable — when it is time to staff a case or deal, the partner may call you first.” 


Be indispensable. 

Be the person who always knows where key documents are, when deadlines are, and what the issues facing the firm or a client are. Better yet, always bring the contact list for the case/deal and an extra copy of key documents to meetings you attend."

It’s often the case that the partner or senior associate will not have that information handy, and if you can produce it quickly you not only make their lives easier, but you look good, too. 


Manage, and communicate, your schedule.

Summer programs include a lot of social and professional development events. Be sure to manage your schedule appropriately so that you can take advantage of these important, career-building experiences. However, ensure that those who need to know your whereabouts during the business day know how or where to reach you. If these commitments ever begin to feel like too much, determine and then communicate to your supervising attorney how you plan on completing all assignments while making the most of your summer.  


Make connections. 

Feel free to make connections both internally and externally. Join the local bar association and other young professional organizations to broaden your network. One recruiter we spoke with also emphasized the importance of getting to know clients, especially the professionals at your level, because as you grow and advance in your career, so will they.  

do not limit yourself to networking within your practice group — everyone at your firm offers networking and learning opportunities. This could also help you better narrow in on a potential practice area. Better yet? Ask to work on a pro bono project with a partner from another practice group."