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Those dreaded interviews are over, the firm has chosen you and you have chosen the firm. You’ve started your summer — a summer that you hope will end with a much-anticipated offer of a full-time position after law school. You have heard lots of now-legendary summer associate war stories from past summers. In case you missed a few of these true (yes, true) stories, try not to do the following. � A summer associate painted her toenails at her desk and walked the firm’s halls barefoot while the polish dried. � Two summer associates at a major New York firm were caught kissing in one of the firm’s closets. � Having too much fun/alcohol at a reception at a partner’s home, a summer associate propositioned the host partner’s wife. � A summer associate accepted two job offers during the fall, planning to split the summer between two law firms. However, this student never told the first firm about the split summer and was just stringing the second firm along until July, never showing up there at all. Succeeding may appear simple in this job market, where most large law firms intend to extend full-time offers to all of their summer associates. However, there is some advice most career services advisors and law firm recruiting directors would share to ensure your success during these important 11 weeks. KNOW YOUR FIRM Read all you can about your firm to catch up on its news since you accepted your offer. Review the firm’s Web site, read the attorney bios, take a look at the February 2000 National Association for Law Placement (NALP) form now available on LEXIS and look for recent newsworthy articles about your firm in Westlaw and LEXIS libraries. To learn what is important to your new colleagues, chat with your summer mentor or with alumni/ae from your law school at the firm about new lateral hires, practice area updates, and important cases the firm is handling. Find out who else from your law school will be with you in the firm’s summer program so that you can have a built-in buddy. HANDLING YOUR FIRST WEEK Most summer programs begin with intensive “nuts and bolts” orientation sessions to acquaint you with every aspect of your new position. Listen carefully during the orientation program and review all of the materials distributed about the firm’s departments, the work assignment process, and how you will actually get your work done. Learn to use the firm telephone system, the fax and copy centers. Also, learn about working with paralegals, the word processing teams and, of course, your secretary. Use this initial period to meet some of the other summer associates. Get to know your mentor and work on developing what undoubtedly will be an important relationship for you. Make sure you understand what is expected of you on a regular basis — whether you are asked to prepare a weekly docket of your work or maintain your time in an accurate way on the firm’s computer system. Learn about the firm’s dress code so that you can dress appropriately on a casual Friday or during an entire casual summer. Learn how the firm defines casual chic/business chic. Leave your backpack at home and purchase a nice carry bag or briefcase that does not scream “law student.” YOUR CALENDAR, YOUR OFFICE Between the firm’s summer social events and your work assignments, you easily will fill your calendar for the summer. Update the social events and work assignment deadlines on your calendar regularly. If you are sharing an office with another summer associate or with one of the firm’s junior associates, be considerate of his or her needs. Do not leave piles of papers and folders on the floor when you are doing large research projects. Try to straighten your desk at the end of each day. Be considerate when using the telephone. Try to time your calls to be least disruptive to your office mate. Avoid using the speakerphone. Personal calls should be infrequent and very brief. Be mindful that your in-person conversations also disrupt those nearby. Some firms have an art committee that governs what is put on the firm’s walls. Some have gardeners who provide plants for your office. Learn the firm’s policies on art work and plants before bringing in your own things, and remember, the materials you introduce into the office environment send a message about who you are and influence how you will be perceived. THOSE WORK ASSIGNMENTS Respond promptly by phone or e-mail to the assigning attorney to set up a meeting time with him or her. Provide assigning attorneys (or their secretaries) with your office location and telephone extension. If a work assignment comes from the recruiting director or one of the summer associate coordinators, obtain all the information you can in advance of your meeting with the assigning attorney. Bring a pad and pen to all attorney meetings so that you can take notes. At the time of the assignment, ask questions that arise until you really understand it. Ask the assigning attorney the deadline for the project and how many hours he or she expects you to work to complete it. If you have additional questions following the assignment meeting, ask the attorney. Since lawyers are always busy, it may be best to e-mail your questions or call to arrange a meeting to ensure that the attorney will have time to answer your questions thoroughly. Be sure to complete all assignments by the deadlines specified. Unless otherwise indicated, submit a completed, polished (not a draft) version of the document. Never submit an incomplete “in progress” draft of your work. Proofread your work carefully because typographical errors invariably are found and discussed at summer associate evaluation meetings. Be prepared for a follow-up assignment once the initial project is completed; it is not unusual for initial research to produce the need for further work on a related matter. If, during the research and writing phase, you find that you cannot meet the scheduled deadline, speak with your mentor and, subsequently, with the assigning attorney. You may have to rearrange your schedule and assignments to accommodate a rigid deadline. On the other hand, you may find that a deadline is more flexible that you imagined. Acing an assignment also means being aware of and responsive to time constraints. Handing in your assignment to the assigning attorney may not be enough. For purposes of evaluation, you may be asked to send copies of finished work to your mentor and to the recruiting coordinator. Do not simply give these individuals the document number of the work assignment and ask them to download copies from the computer. Add a cover sheet to each work assignment so that the reader/evaluator understands what you have been asked to do. It helps the assigning attorney remember what he or she asked, and it prevents misunderstandings about what you were doing. Let the appropriate individual know when you are ready for another assignment. If your schedule allows, volunteer to take on an urgent assignment. Be careful not to take on too many assignments, however, because you will be expected to complete them on time. Time management is a huge summer associate issue. TIME AND BILLING Most attorneys will advise you to bill all the time you have spent on a project; they will make appropriate adjustments later when billing their clients. Many summer associates, however, hesitate to bill all the time they spend on a particular assignment. Senior attorneys understand that you may spend more time on a project than an attorney with more experience. On the other hand, however, the amount of time you spend on a matter may be in line with a senior attorney’s expectations (especially after he or she reviews the stellar work product you have produced). The important thing to remember is that you should provide the senior attorney with the opportunity to make the judgment with respect to time spent. It may well be that the assigning attorney underestimates the amount of time that the assignment might take. Also, understand LEXIS and Westlaw billing. Be sure to speak with either the firm’s librarian or its representatives from LEXIS or Westlaw, or call the “800″ numbers for help with searches so that you use your on-line time well and do not incur excessive costs. Remember, you can schedule time with the LEXIS and Westlaw firm representative to run difficult queries. Those representatives often work with summer associates with no extra fees. CONFIDENTIALITY, DISCRETION The attorneys at your firm consider confidentiality about the names of clients, their issues and your work assignments of utmost importance. Do not be tempted to talk about specific work assignments, clients or case strategies with your friends and family. In some circumstances, sharing case information within the firm may be discouraged because you never know if an opposing counsel is present with you in a firm elevator. Know the firm’s policies about files leaving the office. Remember that you will be judged on your discretion. It is your professional responsibility not to discuss these issues with anyone outside your firm. ‘YOUR’ COMPUTER From your first day at the firm, you may be told that your e-mail is not confidential and that what you send or receive on e-mail is discoverable. Do not put yourself on e-mail joke lists. Do not upload software that will take up space on the firm’s server. Do not use personal screen savers or software. It is the policy of most law firms that their computers, e-mail and voicemail systems are the property of the firm and are to be used for business purposes. TAKING ON PRO BONO WORK Summer may be the perfect time to take on one or more pro bono cases at your firm. If you are interested, learn about the pro bono assigning process. Ask if there is a specific amount of time to do pro bono work. Consider pro bono work quality and deadlines to be as important as for any other work assignment. RESPECT SUPPORT STAFF Understand your secretary’s pressures and particular work preferences. Realize that you may be the third or fourth person to whom he or she has been assigned. Clarify how you will work together and communicate with each other. Ask who the other attorneys are to whom this individual reports and how busy they are. Ask how to get your work done if the secretary has time pressures from other assignments. Find out where your mail arrives and how many times each day to expect mail pick-up and delivery. Ask whether the secretary expects you to retrieve your own mail or whether it will be delivered to your desk. Be respectful and friendly toward your secretary and to all support staff. Say “good morning” to the receptionist and to others at the firm. Their comments about you and your work style may be expressed during your summer at the firm and will be taken seriously. Keep in mind that many members of the support staff can provide significant guidance and insight into law office management and the business of getting work done. Simply stated, respect other people’s talents. WORK WITH MANY ATTORNEYS It can be the kiss of death to work with only one or two attorneys during an entire summer. If that attorney gives you a lukewarm evaluation (or worse), you may not receive a full-time offer at the end of the summer. Attorney evaluations can be highly subjective, so it is best to have many different evaluations in your file. In the 480 hours (or more) that you will be at your summer firm, try to take on at least 10 assignments, making sure that no single assignment exceeds 48 hours of research and writing. If you have difficulty extricating yourself from the clutches of a single attorney who is certain that only you understand his/her assignment, go to one of your summer coordinators whose job it is to intervene in these delicate situations. That individual will help you wrap up one assignment and send you onto the next. EVENTS AND MEETINGS It is expected that you will attend as many of the firm’s summer social events as your time and work allow. Some firms, with 90+ summer associates, may be planning as many as 65 summer events and certainly do not expect you to attend all of them. Firms with smaller summer groups may plan 20-25 summer events and may expect you to attend more of them. Summer associates may need to cancel their attendance at events at the last minute. Be sure to call the recruiting manager as soon as you realize you cannot attend an event so that your ticket can be given to another attorney. Try not to cancel social events more than once or twice during the summer. Send an RSVP for all summer events, if that is expected. Make note of the time of the event and appropriate dress and obtain directions. Appear on time and be prepared to interact with many different people from the firm. Make an effort to “work the room” and meet as many partners and associates as possible at the event. A few “closed door” group meetings may be held during the summer with the summer program coordinators to answer questions you have or to unearth any problems that may exist. When you are asked for your honest and genuine feedback about the firm and the attorneys, remain professional in your demeanor and comments. Remember that you are in a work situation, and the people around you are colleagues, not casual friends. SPLITTING YOUR SUMMER There are inherent difficulties in “splitting” your summer. Spending only six or seven weeks with an employer puts the entire experience on fast-forward. Working at an accelerated pace, you will be expected to find your way around the firm, complete several assignments and develop a relationship with your mentor and with other summer associates. Many law students underestimate the strain of a mid-summer move to a new apartment and a quick start at a second firm. Most employers believe that it is more difficult to adjust to a firm during the second half of the summer, once most of the “get acquainted” events are over and the summer group has already bonded. Summer associates who are splitting their summers do not have much chance to improve assignments that receive mediocre reviews. Greater pressure exists for them to work twice as hard to produce careful and thoughtful work because neither firm has a full 10 or 12 weeks to evaluate them. Nevertheless, the rewards of receiving two job offers and being able to evaluate two cities may compensate for the difficulties. AT EVALUATION MEETINGS Receiving detailed and specific feedback concerning your work product can be difficult and frustrating, even for many full-time associates. Feel free to ask your assigning attorneys for feedback following each project. Learn from your mistakes and employ the criticism in succeeding projects. All too often, mid-summer evaluations from the summer partner (joined by your mentor or the associate coordinating the program) last just a few minutes and consist of: “Continue to do what you are doing” and “You are doing a good job, keep it up.” If there is a critique of a single project, listen carefully, ask questions and learn from the experience. Show that you appreciate the constructive criticism and try to stay positive throughout your talk. If the criticism is more systemic and concerns your ability to perform legal analysis or critiques your legal writing overall, you may find yourself in a more difficult situation. Because the summer associate coordinators want you to succeed, they will hope that your assignments in the second half of the summer demonstrate that you have corrected any deficiencies that they identified during your first six weeks. At your exit evaluation meeting, you may receive a job offer. While it is not expected that you will accept that offer on the spot, it is hoped that perhaps you will. Employers are eager to know when they will hear your reply to their offer and what area of law most interests you. Be enthusiastic and appreciative at this meeting. KEEPING SUMMER RECORDS All law firms do conflict checking. It is important that you save the list of all clients for which you have worked, even on small assignments. Begin now to keep a file of clients from all part-time or full-time jobs that you may be asked to provide by future legal employers. If you need a writing sample (for a future employer or for a judicial clerkship application), be sure to ask and receive permission to use it. It is expected that you will redact the names of any clients or anything that might be revealing within the writing sample. SAYING GOODBYE Many people worked hard to ensure that you had a wonderful summer. Take some time to thank your secretary, your mentor, the recruiting staff, and the summer program coordinators. You may wish to send them notes following the end of the summer to express your appreciation for all the time they spent with you. Offer to assist the firm with fall on-campus recruiting and volunteer to speak to those receiving future summer offers and with your school’s Director of Career Services about your summer at the firm. ACCEPTING YOUR JOB OFFER When you decide to accept your job offer, contact the hiring partner and the recruiting coordinator by telephone. Follow up in writing to each of them, indicating the department you plan to join in the fall. You may wish to share the good news that you are joining the firm with your summer mentor, the attorney with whom you interviewed on campus and the chair of your department at the firm. You may also wish to contact one or more of your summer assigning attorneys to let them know that working with them during the summer positively influenced your decision to join the firm. These are your future colleagues, and they will remember and appreciate your thoughtfulness. Most of all, remember to have fun! Jane Thieberger, who served as the director and assistant dean for career services at New York University School of Law for 11 years, is currently the director of legal personnel at Lowenstein Sandler in New Jersey.

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