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Even before a summer associate arrives at his or her firm of choice this summer, the firm believes that the summer associate has what it takes to receive an offer for full-time employment. However, the remainder of the summer is a continuing interview, both for the firm and for the summer associate. The firm must measure up in terms of its culture and breadth of practice. In turn, a summer associate must demonstrate that he or she can not only produce a stellar work product, but fit in and play well with others. Often summer associates forget that although their work product is the initial barometer of their potential ability as an attorney, their timeliness, responsiveness, attitude and communication skills play an integral role in determining whether an offer will be extended. Thus offered below are the top 10 things not to do this summer. In honor of David Letterman’s “Top 10 List,” the following list of “Don’ts” was compiled to amuse and to instruct. Note that all examples, although unbelievable and at times bizarre, are based on true stories — no one could make these things up! 10. Arrive Late on the First Day. There are always emergencies that arise to cause tardiness — an accident, flat tire, broken leg, or even death. Barring these exceptions, one should arrive on time (or even 10 minutes early) on the first day of the summer program. To avoid any confusion, confirm the name of the firm (for those who partake in a split summer or have amnesia), address, floor and contact person. And while we’re at it, summer associates should try hard to be on time for meetings for the rest of the summer as well. 9. Assign Work to a Fellow Summer Associate. Summer associates often overextend themselves or underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete an assignment. Sometimes they request work and three assignments materialize simultaneously. These things happen. But, by no means should a summer associate take it upon him or herself to decide which assignment (or dare I say, which attorney) is more important. Instead, look to the summer assigning partner or recruiting department for guidance. 8. Decline an Assignment due to Lack of Interest. The summer is an opportunity for summer associates to impress their firms with their intelligence, compatibility and flexibility (in addition to their wit and charm). Therefore, a summer associate should be a team player, interested in soaking up every morsel of knowledge through all assignments offered to them. While waiting for the Microsoft case may be a priority for the summer associate, the firm may want a senior partner to work on that case. Remember that summer associates are paid handsomely to produce a stellar work product and should be flexible as to the firm’s need to respond to client demands. Keep in mind that most firms intend to provide assignments of interest and make every effort to extend those opportunities to the summer associates. 7. Assume That the Attorneys Are Computer Literate. In general, not all attorneys are as computer savvy as many summer associates. Obviously, this does not apply to all firms or all attorneys. However, if an attorney gives an assignment and requests a written memo, keep in mind that he or she is most likely asking the summer associate to hand-deliver a hard copy of the memo, including all cases or statutes relied upon in the memo in an organized package (presentation counts). Leaving a voice mail advising the attorney of the document number and sticking some cases in an interoffice envelope does not come across well. 6. Walk Barefoot in the Office. Although firm culture may be casual and the attorneys really “cool,” summer associates should always remember that just because attorneys in the office conduct themselves in a certain way, does not mean that the summer associate has the same latitude. Remember that the firm continues to evaluate a summer associate throughout the summer, so summer associates should always put their best foot forward (no pun intended), both in social and professional circumstances. 5. Boycott Social Events. Firms work hard on planning social events that they expect will be enjoyable for the summer associates. The social events are a forum in which the firm can assess a summer associate’s communication skills, compatibility and judgment. Social events also clue a summer associate into the culture of the firm. If the summer associate is consistently absent from the social events, it becomes obvious that he or she may not be interested in getting to know the attorneys at the firm and may not be a good fit with the firm. And another reason to attend social events (in addition to the free booze, good food and tickets to “The Producers,” for example) is that they give a summer associate an opportunity to get to know partners and associates on a personal level and build a coterie of attorneys at the firm who will vouch for the summer associate at the end of the summer. 4. Ignore the Dress Code. Wearing a Radiohead concert T-shirt to the office the day after the show is not a good idea. While the attorneys may be impressed that you got tickets, it does not score high in the judgment category. Summer associates should observe the attorneys at the firm and get a sense of what “dress casual” means at that particular one. Some firms’ dress codes are a strict interpretation of what a senior partner deems appropriate (the golf clone look), while other firms encourage individualism — to a point (no midriffs, please, or colors that are not in the 48-count Crayola box). Summer associates should be sensitive to their dress at particular events as well (skimpy thong swim suits are not a good idea at the partner’s country club). 3. Carry Excessive Shopping Bags Around the Office. Res ipsa loquitor. 2. Miss Meetings and Training Sessions. As momentum increases throughout the summer, a summer associate may feel like a “real” associate, look like a “real” associate and even act like a “real” associate. However, a summer associate should not fall into the trap of missing meetings and training sessions on a consistent basis. The attorneys who have dedicated many long hours to the process will find it disrespectful and rude, and such behavior will reflect poorly on the summer associate at summer’s end. And the No. 1 thing not to do this summer is: 1. Fall Asleep During Orientation or Other Partner Presentations. Summer associates should try to sleep at least five hours a night during the summer program to insure that their eyes remain fully open during all firm presentations. Keep in mind that at times, there may be two or more partners who bill in excess of $1,000 an hour imparting their words of wisdom to the summer associates. It may be dry at times, but be forewarned that such partners will remember the “sleeper” … as the summer associate who felt that a nap was more interesting than the partner’s presentation. JeanMarie Campbell, a former corporate attorney, is in charge of legal recruitment and professional development in the New York office of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld.

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