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Everywhere you turn, it seems someone is giving advice to summer associates — from what they should or shouldn’t wear to the office to the proper etiquette for a lunch with partners. Last year, I weighed in with this heresy: Scrutinize the attorneys in your firm as closely as they’re evaluating you. Then ask yourself: Who among those lawyers leads the kind of life you’d want? Even so, in a tough employment market where loan repayment schedules beckon, practicality reigns. There are plenty of factors to consider. Start with some basics: 1. You want a full-time job offer. (To call them “permanent” anymore is just silly.) After three days at the firm, you might have concluded that the place isn’t for you. But an offer to return is a useful ticket to wherever you want to go. Interviewing as a 3L, the most important question you’ll get is: did you get an offer from your summer firm? If you did, the message this sends is that another firm has signed off on you and your work. As such, you’re a less risky proposition. If there was no offer, the road ahead will be rougher, especially if you’re interested in some other large law firm.

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