Tips for Summer Associates, Interns and Volunteers

In Kimm Walton‘s book  What Law School Doesn’t Teach You But You Really Need to Know, she lists some tips for summer associates that legal recruiters had shared with her during her discussions with them.  The CSO is sharing those tips with you, with a few additional comments of our own added in.  The suggestions are helpful to summer associates, interns and volunteers, alike.

*Ask questions: if you don’t know/understand something, ask.  It is especially important for you to communicate with the assigning attorney.  Ask about time expectations and deadlines for projects.  Listen carefully when receiving an assignment; have paper and a pen with you, and take clear notes.

*If you are struggling or concerned that you will miss a deadline, you must communicate with the assigning attorney – trying to hide in the library is not a good plan!  Submit your best work, not a “rough draft.”  Also, when submitting an assignment, or filing a document, make sure it is received before leaving for the day.

*Be friendly: Communicate and don’t be shy.  Be visible, introduce yourself to others and attend functions that allow you to meet a variety of attorneys, especially partners, i.e., don’t just hang out with other summer associates.  Therefore, while you have to work hard, don’t work so hard that you don’t have time to socialize.

*Be gracious: Treat everyone nicely.

*Seek feedback: Ask attorneys for feedback.  Be persistent so that you can improve your work product.

*Seek out projects from as many different lawyers and practice areas in the firm as possible and don’t be afraid to try things in areas you are not familiar with.

*Ask for work: If you don’t have enough work, seek out assignments.

*Be timely and responsive: Be on time for all meetings and events, return phone calls and emails, and RSVP for events promptly.  If someone calls you, return the call instead of responding via email. 

*Work hard: Always work hard and complete all of your projects before leaving the firm for the summer.

*Be open to constructive criticism.  Learn from it.

*Dress professionally.  If you doubt for a second whether you should wear something, don’t wear it.

*Behave professionally: avoid being overly familiar, gossiping, or engaging in office politics and avoid drinking too much at firm functions.  Treat your summer associate position as an extension of your job interview. After all, you most likely are hoping for a long-term employment offer from that employer.

*Don’t be arrogant and brag about your credentials – remember, there is always somebody who is smarter, faster, etc. (See treat everybody nicely above.) 

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