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The most talented law students, ripe with ambition and yearning to discover what large-firm life is all about, are arriving at large firms in New York and all over the country. They will encounter some of the most talented lawyers in the country, with years of experience under their belts and eagerness to share what working at a large firm is all about. Lawyers firmwide should take notice of summer associates, for they are their associates of the near future who will be drafting their discovery requests, keeping their clients informed of case developments and revising their share purchase agreements to incorporate newly negotiated provisions. And summer associates should take notice of associates and partners, for they are their soon-to-be colleagues who will be doling out assignments, closing the deals on which they are working and mentoring them while rendering legal advice to chief executive officers of Fortune 500 companies. It does not take much effort to make the summer a success for all those involved. The recruitment departments make that easy. Within the well-planned and structured summer program, those summer associates who extend minimal effort will reap immeasurable benefits in the future. While most firms will encourage or require this, it bears emphasizing that summers should enter this season ready to accept and experience work in all departments of the firm. The summer associate who wants to become a litigator should accept assignments in the corporate, bankruptcy, benefits, trust and estates and real estate departments. He or she should attend a deposition, but should also be sure to attend a real estate closing and a complex merger agreement negotiation. This is important because being a good litigator also means knowing how the other departments in the firm operate and just what it is that transactional lawyers do. Social events during the summer are almost as important as the work experience. Make every effort to attend as many as possible. Firms put in tremendous effort and spare no expense to ensure that summer associates meet each other and the firm’s attorneys outside the office. Not attending events should be viewed as the equivalent of not completing the memorandum of law that a partner requested you write. More importantly, summer associates should realize they may not just be missing the hottest new theater production but also the opportunity to build lasting relationships with their peers and the other attorneys while making lasting impressions. While at the finest local restaurants, museums and venues, take the opportunity to get to know each of your fellow summer associates. These are the individuals who will be your officemates when you return to the firm, those you have lunch with daily in the cafeteria and who will be the colleagues you will turn to for years to come. Remember that not everyone who summers at a large firm ends up at that firm or even at a firm at all. Keep in mind that a fellow summer associate may be a future business referral or contact. Also take the opportunity to get to know the partners and associates in an informal environment. Speak with them about their activities and interests within and outside the firm. Share your background and interests. Foster these relationships throughout the summer, even with those attorneys with whom you may not directly work with. And remember, a little interest goes a long way: The more interest a summer associate is perceived as having, the more interesting things that associate will experience. Although attorneys should always endeavor to include summer associates in their work, demands sometimes put the summer associate’s development on the back burner. It only takes reminding an attorney (and especially a busy one) that one is there to foster development and increase involvement in a case. More often than not, the summer associate lends a much-welcomed helping hand to a busy attorney. After the program is over, summer associates should keep in touch with the attorneys with whom they have worked and those with whom they have connected. Drop the second-year associate who worked with you on a corporate transaction an e-mail forwarding a magazine article about the company’s new venture. Send the partner who heads the white-collar practice an e-mail to say hello and inform her that you just litigated a criminal jury trial and obtained an acquittal through your law school’s criminal clinical program. And check in to see how the cases you worked on over the summer are progressing. If possible, inquire as to whether work during the school year is an option. Not only is it a great source of income for students but it is also a way for a summer associate to stay connected with the firm and those attorneys who made an impression. Summer associates should view the summer program as an extension of their 2L interview process, where the summer associate can determine whether he or she made the right choice of firm to embark on his or her career. Summer associates should remember, though, that the firms at which they spend their summer view the program in the same way. Remember that the relationships formed over this summer are not fleeting ones that disappear with the dog days of August but rather ones that will continue for years to come. Lisa H. Bebchick and Elana F. Sinensky are associates in the litigation department of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. This article originally appeared in the New York Law Journal, a Recorder affiliate.

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