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They’re back. Following months of preparation, some summer associates at Atlanta firms began arriving a week ago while others are trickling in from the nation’s law schools. They’re being greeted with parties, instructions on using the phone and filling out time slips and — in several cases — significantly higher salaries. The 83 summer associates at King & Spalding’s Atlanta office each will earn $1,750 a week, says Rebecca Newton, the firm’s director of recruiting. That’s almost a 30 percent increase over last year’s weekly salary of $1,350. (Annualized, that’s $91,000 vs. $70,200 a year ago) At Kilpatrick Stockton, 41 summer associates also are receiving a $400 per week raise over last year, to $1,600 from $1,200, says Jason S. Bazar, an associate who chairs this year’s summer associate committee for the firm’s Atlanta office. The increase in part is attributed to recent rises in associate pay as well as the market in general, says partner Evelyn H. Coats, who heads the firm’s recruiting committee. PLANNING SINCE JANUARY Integrating dozens of law students into firms with hundreds of lawyers requires months of planning. “We’ve been preparing for it since January,” says King & Spalding’s Newton. The firm’s administrators have determined how the summer associates will rotate through numerous practice areas while attorneys in charge of the summer program have collected assignments for the incoming class, she says. Such planning is critical to a good summer experience, says Emily Shiels, director of attorney hiring and development at Alston & Bird. There, firm administrators sent the summer associates questionnaires to determine the types of projects they hoped to do, the places in Atlanta they hoped to see and even their food allergies or other special dietetic needs, says Shiels. “Everything’s important. Every little detail will leave an impact,” she says. And now that the students are arriving, attorneys and staff will be advising them and trying to ensure they receive quality work assignments. “Our challenge is to get the right number of projects of appropriate complexity,” says Todd E. Jones, a Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy litigation partner in charge of his firm’s summer program. “Sometimes we don’t have enough. You send around e-mail asking for projects, then you get a flood. It’s hard to find a happy medium.” MOST REQUIRE TIME SLIPS Most of the firms interviewed require summer associates to keep time slips but do not hold the students to any minimum billing requirements. “We recognize that one clerk might end up watching a trial for a week. It’s not fair to make him make [that time] up,” says Robert E. Saudek, managing partner of Morris, Manning & Martin. Seventeen summer associates are visiting the Atlanta office this year. Managing the summer program is often time-consuming for the attorneys: Jones says he’ll be busy overseeing PoGo’s 26 Atlanta summer associates. W. Randall Bassett Jr., the King & Spalding partner in charge of this year’s summer program, estimates he’ll spend 25 percent of his time on that task. Kilpatrick Stockton’s Bazar says many firm attorneys look forward to the summer program. “The firm recognizes we need attorneys and staff devoted to this process,” he says. Likewise, firms take steps to encourage attorney participation. At Morris, Manning, “being helpful and effective in recruiting” is a factor in associate evaluations, Saudek says. A MIX OF WORK AND PLAY For the students, a summer in a big Atlanta firm means an equal mix of work and play, including weekend retreats. Alston & Bird plans to take its summer class to the Marriott Grand Resort in Point Clear, Ala., the weekend of June 9, Shiels says. PoGo’s group will visit Amelia Island that same weekend, says Jones, as well as attend the usual assortment of Braves games, concerts and parties. King & Spalding holds six tickets to every Braves home game and has standing reservations at Chastain Park, Newton says. Alston & Bird’s Shiels says “We’ve found smaller events are more effective recruiting tools.” Lawyers offer summer clerks the chance to accompany them to salsa dancing and cooking classes as well as on mountain biking and rock climbing trips. Asked whether throwing together lawyers and students of disparate ages is sometimes awkward, PoGo’s Jones, 40, replies: “I will admit they are seeming younger and younger. … In terms of socializing, with summer associates, they tend to do it with younger associates and [other] summer associates.” At Kilpatrick Stockton, all rising third-year law students come to the firm knowing they have an offer for a permanent job following graduation, says Coats. “It takes off the pressure of worrying all summer,” she says. Those associates will earn $100,000 a year plus bonuses, she says. That should make their June retreat to Destin, Fla., more relaxing. The event had been set for South Carolina, the site of a controversy over flying the Confederate flag over the Statehouse. The issue recently has been defused with both houses of the state legislature approving the relocation the flag from the Statehouse. However, Kilpatrick Stockton earlier changed locations, says a firm e-mail, “because we, as a firm, are committed to diversity and mutual respect” and “to ensure that participation will be comfortable for all our associates and partner and recruit guests.” For some summer associates, the coming months will provide an opportunity for community service. COMMUNITY SERVICE King & Spaldings’s attorneys and clerks will work on a Habitat for Humanity house together, Newton says, and up to six of its summer associates will be paid their weekly salaries to do pro bono work for six weeks at area public interest organizations. Finding office space for the students can sometimes be a problem. At PoGo, which Jones says has been experiencing enormous growth, some summer associates will occupy space on the 39th floor of the 191 Peachtree Building, several floors above the firm’s regular offices on the 16th through 20th floors. Troutman Sanders’ 51 summer associates primarily will occupy empty attorneys’ offices, says Betsy Hatcher, the firm’s recruiting manager. At King & Spalding, which occupies 15 floors of the 191 Peachtree Building, clerks will rotate offices occasionally to be able to meet attorneys and staff throughout the firm, says Newton. WELL-ORCHESTRATED EXPERIENCE Kristen Lee, whose summer associate career at King & Spalding was just five days old at press time Friday, says that, so far, her experience has been well-orchestrated. She says she’s been trained on the computer system and is working on an interesting trademark law assignment (while enjoying a view of Midtown from her 45th floor office in the 191 Peachtree Building). She even got to watch King & Spalding lawyers argue a motion for sanctions in federal court on her second day on the job. “It can be a bit overwhelming,” says Lee, a rising third-year at Duke University and an Atlanta native, “but it’s very exciting.” Rick Sizemore, who’s spending his second summer at King & Spalding, says he’s much more at ease on this return trip although he, like the first-timers, won’t know if he’s got a full-time offer of employment until the end of the summer. Sizemore, who graduated from Mercer University’s law school a week ago and will spend the next two years in a federal clerkship, says the nerve-wracking newness of working at a big firm in a big city has worn off. Also helpful: he knows people at King & Spalding from last year. Although King & Spalding’s summer class is large — more than 80 people — Sizemore says that this year, like last, the firm uses staggered start dates. This means law students arrive in small groups — the current one has 14 students — and get to know one another through training and social events, he says. A favorite so far: the firm’s outing to Harold’s Barbecue last week. Lee’s first week also has included being taken to lunch every day-something she says she’s enjoyed at eateries including Azio’s and the King & Spalding partners’ dining room. Janet L. Conley contributed to this story. Tom Rawlings is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ga.

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