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In my 13 years as director of Texas Tech University School of Law’s career services center, I’ve heard every possible comment, compliment and complaint about summer clerkships. One of the most common questions I get from students is how to rate the experience. They want to know if there are obvious things that will enhance or detract from their initial entry into the profession. My answer is always “yes” — and here is my grade sheet for the top 10 concerns. 1. If summer associates are referred to by their given names (instead of being called simply “clerks”), give the clerkship an A. 2. Compare the number of computers assigned to the clerks with the number of clerks. Any ratio of greater than 2-to-1 is going to be a C experience. 3. Is the firm still arguing over how casual Friday can be? Give this clerkship a C. The grade can be raised if the firm will have a written description of appropriate “casual Friday” attire. 4. Are clerks given a client’s “story” when given research or does the clerk get to see the file? Most attorneys who tell the story will come by later to provide another significant part of the story, making the clerk’s research (up to this time) irrelevant. Get the story = C clerkship. Get the file (or copies of significant materials) = A clerkship. 5. Does a clerk have an opportunity to observe the courtroom or attend a mediation? This clerking experience will be a B. 6. If the clerk (see No. 5, above) is given an explanation of the case before the hearing or mediation, the grade becomes an A. 7. Does the firm seem to attract a group of associates that is geographically and ethnically diverse? If so, this gets a B. If those same associates make partner, the firm earns an A. 8. Did the firm figure out before the clerk arrived (a) where the clerk would be working; (b) what the assignments would be the first week; and (c) who would be evaluating the clerk’s work? If so, give the clerkship an A. 9. Has the firm hired 30 clerks when it knows that it will offer no more than four permanent positions? Sorry, but this earns a C. 10. Are the clerks treated as individuals who will be given opportunities to contribute to the success of the firm by researching, meeting the attorneys with whom they may be working and seeing how exciting a career in the law can be? This gets an A+. Kay Fletcher is assistant dean at Texas Tech University School of Law.

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