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When New York City heats up and summer associates hit the firms, law firms want to have the coolest summer program around. With Broadway and baseball games the standard for many years, New York recruiting coordinators are trying to add excitement to their summer programs by adding new activities. INTERACTIVE SUMMER This summer’s activities are shifting from the sedentary to the interactive. “We’re trying to get out of the staring-at-a-screen thing and do more outward-bound, team-building activities,” said William Davis, legal personnel and recruitment manager at Dewey Ballantine. At Dewey, those activities include interactive simulations and bike tours. Other firms have incorporated activities like white water river rafting and canoe trips where summer associates can work together in teams and get to know each other. Recruitment coordinator at Rosenman & Colin, Daniel Kehn, stressed the importance of interactivity among summer associates, associates and partners. With that idea in mind, the summer crew will break the ice at a Manhattan scavenger hunt that will include associate “siblings.” Other popular activities include team sports like basketball, softball and bowling. Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison summers take on the firm’s partners in a softball game, while Dewey summers enjoy glow-in-the-dark bowling. Whether the program consists of mostly social or law-related events, creativity is a necessary element. While some firms organize physically creative activities like Debevoise & Plimpton’s pottery painting party, other firms ask their associates to express mental creativity. At Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts, summers will attend the show “Copenhagen” and spend the next day in an organized discussion of the play and how the issues interplay into their daily lives and into their careers as lawyers. PUT AWAY THE SUITS Another trend appears to be the triumph of khakis over navy blue suits. Most firms have conceded defeat to the sweltering temperatures of the New York City subway system and have gone business casual for the summer. At least half of the 35 largest firms have already taken the plunge and at least two firms, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft and Chadbourne & Parke, are casual year-round. While most firms just sent memos describing appropriate dress, Cadwalader hosted a fashion show at Polo-Ralph Lauren featuring partners as models. The general guidelines include collared shirts for men, no form-fitting or revealing clothes, no jeans or sneakers and no shorts. Associates also must keep a suit at the firm for emergency meetings. As a Cadwalader memo indicated, “The success of the business casual policy rests with the good judgment of each individual.” Associates be forewarned — take no notes from “Erin Brockovich.” SUMMER TRAINING The summer programs are not “no work and all play.” Since training is an integral part of acclimating summers to the practice of law, coordinators of law firm programs have developed innovative ways to teach the basics without being boring. Instead of straight lectures, simulations and interactive approaches reign for summer 2000. Most firms offer training workshops in legal writing and negotiations, but plan to incorporate new topics into their offerings. Winthrop Stimson mixed mid-level associate development with summer associate training by organizing a trial where the associates argue the case while summer associates play the jury. The associates then watch the jury deliberate via closed-circuit television to learn how a jury thinks and ways they can improve their performances. At Shearman & Sterling, summer associates participate in a day-long Deal-A-Rama, where groups of associates assume the role of different parties in a take-over agreement and are supervised by partners and senior associates. Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson introduces their summer associates to the firm’s Latin America practice during a happy hour overview session. Summers enjoy margaritas and chips with salsa as they learn about the firm’s Latin American clients and practice group. An individualized approach to interactive training is taken by Chadbourne, where each summer associate is given a private writing tutorial by a professor from Emory Law School. Pro bono training and opportunities are also emphasized. LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae stresses its commitment to pro bono groups by forgoing a fancy lunch and doing a brown bag one. The firm donates the money it saves on lunch to a non-profit organization. At Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, several summers associates get hands on experience in an uncontested divorce clinic, where the associate can complete the matter during the 12-week summer program. Another twist on pro bono participation is attending a charity baseball game. Summer associates at Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Stroock attend games at Shea Stadium where all proceeds benefit respective non-profit groups. The associates meet members of the organization, enjoy a picnic and get autographs from players too. Other firms arrange for associates to spend time assisting a non-profit organization. Pro Bono stints at various firms range from two to eight weeks, allowing associates to split their summers between the firm and a selected non-profit group. USE THOSE CLIENTS Firms also rely on clients to broaden the summer experience. For example, associates may participate in client meetings or attend stockholders’ meetings. Summer associates at Rosenman will be privy to a private tour of Sotheby’s, one of the firm’s clients. Proskauer Rose is using its connections to the National Basketball Association to host a farewell party for the summer associates at the NBA store. Paul Weiss works their connections in the entertainment industry to treat summer associates to a private movie screening or house seats to Broadway shows. The recent litigation between the city and the Brooklyn Museum has kept attorneys at Cahill Gordon & Reindel busy, and the firm now plans to show the summer associates the scene of all the controversy. While many firms take summer associates on tours of the stock exchange, Brown & Wood uses the expertise of Merrill Lynch to give summers an inside perspective. Few summer programs take their associates on tours of a power plant, but Chadbourne’s project finance group introduces summers to a major client and the practice group with a special tour of the plant’s facilities. Fried Frank incorporates its client base and deals it has worked on into a bus tour of the city. The summer associates get a glimpse not only of landmarks of importance to the firm, but of the entire Big Apple guided by the firm’s real estate partners. While the basic concept of wooing summer associates into accepting full-time offers is the same, each law firm develops a different approach. Whether the program emphasizes career development, interactive social activities or team-building exercises, it gives summer associates a good idea of the firm’s values and what lifestyle the firm embraces. Though the lunches and paychecks are an added bonus, the experience is an invaluable opportunity to assess the firm and whether it is the right place to begin a full-time legal career. To see what the summer activities are at 20 Top New York Firms, click here.

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