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If Sarah M. Lombard, a second-year law student at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, wanted to coast through her summer internship, she could have stayed in Beantown, she said. Instead, Lombard sought real experience and an opportunity to get know a prospective employer based on more than just the superficial exposure that big-market firms notoriously provide their summer associates. Her friends who, in previous years, had summered at Boston firms told her stories of being stuck in the library all day. And Lombard, who is spending this summer with New Haven, Conn.-based Tyler Cooper & Alcorn, wanted no part of it. So far, so good. In her first seven days at the firm, five of them were spent in court assisting a partner on trial by reviewing documents and researching legal issues, according to Tyler Cooper hiring partner Thomas S. Marrion. Among her other assignments, Lombard said she also worked on a motion for summary judgment in an indemnification suit against a general contractor that Tyler Cooper is defending. “We do not look at the summer associate program as an opportunity to make money,” insisted Marrion. Like their counterparts at all the firms interviewed for this article, the five summer associates at Tyler Cooper this year, according to Marrion, are not subject to any billable-hour goals. But they do fill out time slips, bill clients when appropriate, and work more than just 9-to-5 during their two-month stay at the firm, Marrion said. It’s all in an effort to give them a good idea of what practicing there as a first-year associate is really like, he added. “We’d like to think that the more they know about us, the more they’ll want to continue with us after graduation,” Marrion explained. EARNING THEIR KEEP Real work also means real bucks. And, at most of Connecticut’s larger firms, summer associates are taking home more than their predecessors did last year. At the top among large Connecticut-based outfits, Day, Berry & Howard pays its 24 summer interns a cool $1,423 a week-plus parking allowances — if they work in the firm’s Hartford office, according to hiring partner Steven M. Greenspan. That’s up from $1,308 a year ago, he said. Summer associates in its Stamford office earn $1,615 a week this year-roughly $115 more a week than last year, he added. But other than limitations placed on them because they have yet to pass the bar exam, “they do exactly what first-year lawyers do,” Greenspan claimed. That includes drafting contracts and legal motions, reviewing documents and helping out in real-estate transactions, he said. “They’re definitely earning their keep here,” said Murtha Cullina hiring partner Hugh F. Murray of the Hartford-based firm’s nine summer associates. Those interns, Murray said, earn roughly $1,346 a week, which translates to an annual salary of $70,000 — the firm’s base salary for its first-year associates. “We’re keeping them pretty busy,” he reported. One summer associate helped draft the firm’s response to a petition for certification to the U.S. Supreme Court filed by a plaintiff in an employment discrimination case that Murtha is defending. “We don’t want to set up this fantasy land” by giving interns make-work projects, Murray added. He admitted that some of the work they do, such as help the firm get ready for upcoming seminars it is holding, might not otherwise get done if not for Murtha’s summer program. But the majority of their assignments are “real work for real clients,” he insisted. The same goes for the four summer associates at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker’s Stamford office, according to partner Kurt W. Hansson. HELPING HANDS Last summer, two interns, according to Hansson, helped the firm’s lawyers in assisting Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in the state’s successful commuter tax war with New York. In ruling from the bench, the trial judge, who found that the New York couldn’t eliminate the tax for its own residents without eliminating it for Connecticut residents as well, actually used some of language drafted by the summer associates, Hansson maintained. Part of making sure that interns don’t get stuck doing pointless state-by-state reviews of laws in a particular area — a traditional make-work project — is lining up assignments for them well before they arrive, said Stephen K. Gellman, the hiring partner at Hartford-based Shipman & Goodwin. “Work tends to ebb and flow for summer associates as with anyone else,” Gellman conceded. So, by early May, he checks in with his partners to make sure there’s a diverse workload to keep interns busy for the entire summer, he said.

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