X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
It’s a good time to be a summer associate in the Bay Area. Salaries for summer associates were set at $2,400 per week by San Francisco-based Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, mirroring skyrocketing salaries for Bay Area associates. Most of the firm’s Northern California competitors, including Cooley Godward, Morrison & Foerster (MoFo), and Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve & Hachigian, met the pay hike. Moreover, summer associate class sizes have also increased; Fenwick & West, a Silicon Valley-based tech specialist, doubled the size of its summer class from the previous year. Because of the booming economy, attorneys are in demand. And because attorneys are in demand, the intense courtship processes that are summer associate programs have continued to live up to their extravagant reputations. EXCEPTIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE Despite reports to the contrary, summer associates do have to work. While the amount of billable hours expected varies by firm, Bay Area summers are generally expected to bill somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 hours per week. “While we try to give them real work, similar to the work that a first-year might be given,” explains Fenwick recruiting director Karin Amatengelo, “we don’t expect our summer associates to keep long hours.” Allison Sparks, attorney recruiting manager for Cooley Godward, estimates that summer associates at the firm work from “9 until 7 or 8.” “The amount of hours you work really depends on what you want to get out of your experience,” notes a MoFo summer associate. “Definitely some people bill the minimum; some people also bill a lot more.” Many firms also include training and orientation as billable activities and provide special opportunities such as mock depositions, mock trials, and luncheon seminars. Also prevalent are pro bono programs, such as working with a legal aid clinic. While the work may not be especially back breaking, it is by most accounts gratifying. Firms offer the opportunity to take part in “incredible assignments” for “big clients.” Furthermore, the booming high tech sector of the region provides many “wonderful opportunities,” reports another MoFo trainee. “It’s only the halfway point of the summer and I’ve already been heavily involved with two IPOs and a merger.” And the high tech environment fosters multiple training opportunities. “Just working with excellent clients automatically makes the work interesting,” gushes a Fenwick summer associate. “Even if you are doing boring work, it is still exciting. I’ve probably learned more here than in law school.” SOCIAL STUDIES While the work assigned to Bay Area summer associates may be exciting, it is not so gripping as to prevent summer associates from attending the multitude of social events staged by the firms. Events range from the standard cocktail hour to more luxurious fare. A MoFo summer associate calls the firm’s social calendar “overwhelming.” One of the firm’s standout events this year was a sailing trip on the San Francisco Bay followed by a reception at a yacht club. Summer associates at Pillsbury Madison & Sutro were treated to a reception at the SF MoMA-the firm had rented the entire museum. Cooley Godward is one of many firms to treat its summer associates to tickets to the San Francisco Opera; tickets to watch the Giants at San Francisco’s new Pac Bell ballpark are also widely available. Weekend retreats are popular. Cooley Godward sponsored a weekend at the Seascape resort near San Jose, where summer associates from all the firm’s offices take part in training as well as relax on the beach. Fenwick & West’s Napa getaway offered associates wine tasting and pampering at the resort’s health spa. Pillsbury summer associates were more vigorous — during their retreat to Lake Tahoe they went water-skiing and gambled the night away. Firms take full advantage of the natural attributes of the Bay Area. Outdoor activities include hiking, biking trips, surfing, golf tournaments, sea kayaking, and whitewater rafting. A Fenwick summer associate notes that partners do not mind getting dirty: the boats on the whitewater rafting trip each had one partner and one associate along with the summer associates. Partners, associates, and summer associates all get down and dirty at Morrison & Foerster’s “Salsa Party,” where they are taught salsa dancing at a local Spanish restaurant. NON-STOP LUNCHING Lavish lunches have long been an institution of summer associate programs, and the Bay Area summer associates interviewed indicate that there has been no let-up. “I feel like I’m a freshman in college all over again,” sighs a Pillsbury summer. “My caloric intake has skyrocketed.” Summer associates’ culinary highlights include being treated at some of San Francisco’s finest restaurants, including Boulevard, Postrio, and Hawthorne Lane. “If you want to go to lunch every day, you can find someone to take you,” says a summer associate at MoFo. Many point out that the responsibility for lunch plans often fall on the summer associates themselves. “Because of the ‘free market’ system at Fenwick, if I want to go to lunch I need to let an associate or a partner know that I’m interested,” reveals a summer associate. SF VS. NY Sparks believes the difference between summering in New York and the Bay Area can be traced to the benefits derived from “exposure to the entrepreneurial spirit” of the region. Others agree and point to the “laid-back” culture of Northern California. “Summer associate programs are more aggressively social in NY,” notes a law student who has summered in both locales. “They treated me like a queen — the partying is non-stop. But you realize that the New York summer program is not real; I wanted to be in San Francisco for the practice.” Others point out that Northern California simply offers opportunities that New York does not — the chance to appreciate the great outdoors. Many associates chose California firms for lifestyle reasons. “The New York lifestyle is crazy, chaotic, and wonderful, but nevertheless very draining and very lonely,” comments a Silicon Valley summer associate who also spent time in New York. “Out here you can work really hard with intelligent and talented people and not lose track of yourself.”

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.