The Law School Authority

The Ten Commandments for Summer Associates.
by Summer X.


I. Thou shall make a good first impression.

Your first day at the firm is really important.  More than likely, someone will take you on an office tour on your first day and introduce you to other associates and partners.  Try to make a good first impression on everyone.  Be very respectful.  Wear a suit, even if your firm has business casual dress code.  Also, you will be filling out tons of forms. Make sure that you have all the important documents and information with you (I.D., SSN etc.).  Do NOT be late!! 

II. Thou shall attend most, if not all, summer social events.

Right now you may think that attending the social events wouldn’t be much of an issue.  But trust me, after spending 8-10 hours in your office, the last thing you want to do is to drive through the city traffic and attend some stupid firm golf tournament.  But do not let your work schedule interfere with your firm’s social events.  If you are really exhausted or if your really hate the activity planned out for the event, just do what I did: make a quick appearance and greet every partner at the event.  When everyone is busy with the activity and the opportunity so arises, just quietly take off.  LOL, it works, trust me.

III.  Thou shall promptly reply to emails and phone messages.

I know you’ll be busy working on your assignments.  But trust me, summer is not all about work.  Many firms like to test how well summer associates can balance their work and other work obligations.  Prompt replies to emails and phone calls is part of the job.  If you are the kind of person who likes to sit on emails or phone messages for days or weeks, make sure you change your habit, at least for the summer.

VI. Thou shall not get too comfortable.

After a month or so at the firm, some summer associates get too comfortable with their position.  By this time, you’ll know many of the partners and you’ll be good friends with the summer associates and other young associates. But do not let such environment fool you.  Your summer position is a two months long job interview!  Rumor has it that a summer associate at a large NY law firm got too comfortable with his environment.  While this associate was having lunch with some young associates and a young partner whom the summer associate considered a “buddy,” the summer used the “F” word.  His “buddy” partner reported the summer to the hiring committee and no job offer was extended to the guy.

V. Thou shall get along with your fellow summer associates.

You summer class will be filled with all different types of personalities, but mostly the gunner types.  Please make a good faith effort to get along with your fellow summers.  I had some summer associates in my class that I would never even talk to if I had met them at a bar.  But I acted like their best fried during summer events.  Trust me, how well the summer associates get along with each other goes a long way when it comes to the final hiring committee meeting.

VI. Thou shall always respect the support staff.

Rumor has it that one summer associate at a prestigious firm had bit of an ego problem.  She considered herself to be Ms. Impeccable and she expected perfection from the paralegal that was assigned to her.  On two separate occasions, she yelled at her paralegal.  Needless to say, Ms. Perfect did not get an offer.  During my summer, I made sure that I was really friendly to all the support staff.  Actually, I got pretty close to my paralegal.  Trust me guys, how your treat the support staff can go a long way!

VII.  Thou shall make a good faith effort to get close to one or two partners.

Even though partners at big firms make $1 million+ every year, they are still human beings.  Trust me, most partners at your firm have gone though the same process you are currently going through.  My advice is to spot out one or two partners with whom you have something in common.  Then try to get some assignments from them and kick some ass on these assignments.  Also, do not be afraid to ask a partner out to lunch.  Chances are that they will be honored to have a young summer associate who wants to spend time with them.

VIII. Thou shall purchase an appointment diary.

During my summer, I made a lunch commitment with a partner for Tuesday.  When Tuesday rolled around, I was so involved in my rather obscure assignment that I totally forgot about the lunch appointment.  After waiting for about 10 minutes in the lobby, the partner came to my office and reminded me of our appointment.  I was really embarrassed by this whole event.  Learn from my mistake and get an appointment diary.

IX. Thou shall never rush through assignments.

You may be the nicest person ever to set foot in your firm.  You may have the best personality.  You may be the best looking summer associate America has ever seen.  But if the quality of your work product is poor, you WILL NOT get the offer.  Therefore, I strongly advice you to pay close attention to the quality of the assignments you turn in during the summer.  Just remember, QUALITY OVER QUANTITY!  During my summer, I would spend a week, sometimes even two weeks, on each assignment.  By the end of the summer, I had about 9 memos in my folder and they were all of great quality.  One may think that writing about 9 memos in one summer is not enough work.  But hey, I still got the offer.  Research hard, proofread your memos like a mad man and turn in perfect work product.

X. After you get your offer, thou shall go to Vegas and get hammered.

You got this far in life and I am sure I don’t have to tell you how to celebrate a great victory!

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