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Six weeks. That’s all the time a law student has to turn a summer clerkship into a permanent offer. You may think that’s a long time, but it’s not. Amid the whirlwind of social events and work assignments, the time for making a favorable impression will be gone before you know it. Although every firm’s hiring process is different, the following 10 tips generally apply to any summer clerkship program. Treat each attorney like a name partner:Summer associates most likely will receive projects from many different lawyers. Whether dealing with a first-year associate or the name partner in the corner office, treat each lawyer the same way. Otherwise, it could have a direct impact on your hopes of getting an offer. There are many ways to show respect to lawyers in the firm. Be eager. Arrive early to scheduled meetings. Be available. Don’t make the lawyer look for you. Never make a lawyer feel like he or she is interrupting. And above all, don’t ever “better-deal” a lawyer. If a summer associate cannot complete an assigned project, let a mentor sort out the conflict by talking to those needing help. Trying to determine if one lawyer’s project is more important than another project likely will offend someone. Treat support staff like name partners:Support staff is no different. Summer associates may feel lost on the first day. It may take hours to figure out how to use a copier code or the location of a particular client file. The last thing a summer associate wants to do is be rude to the firm’s support staff. They are the lifeline. The firm’s secretaries, paralegals, librarians, recruiting coordinators and mailroom clerks are professionals. Each employee has addressed any of the issues a summer associate may encounter and can provide tremendous assistance. Say please and thank you. Act like a lawyer:Everyone knows a summer associate is not a lawyer, but during the next six weeks, try to convince the firm you can be one. The quickest way to accomplish this goal is by looking like an attorney. Dress appropriately. Understand the firm’s definition of business casual. When in doubt, err on the side of formality. The firm’s confidence in a summer associate, in large part, is determined by appearances and impressions. Everyone has a preconceived notion of how a lawyer should act and look. Take the time to observe the firm’s lawyers and try to fit that preconceived notion. Understand each project assigned to you:When given an assignment, arrive at the supervising lawyer’s office with pen and paper in hand. Take notes as the assignment is given. If aspects of the assignment are unclear, ask questions. Although it is the assigning attorney’s responsibility to describe the assignment and the nature of the written work accurately and completely, summer associates nevertheless should press for a clear definition to avoid misunderstandings. Good lawyers listen, digest the information and provide valuable responses. Don’t use Westlaw or Lexis without permission:Research in firms is different from research in law school. Computer databases are not free. Some clients refuse to pay for online research, and most lawyers currently in practice learned to research by using the books. For these reasons, always ask before using the firm’s commercial databases for a particular project. Thoroughly research each aspect of the project:In all likelihood, someone will rely on your work. If a summer associate cuts corners, someone will be embarrassed later. Avoid that problem by always checking the relevant statute, rules or regulations that apply in a given situation. Don’t rely on old pleadings or prior memoranda. Perform all updates to the extent available. MEET OR BEAT Turn in the best work you can dA summer associate’s work product matters. The firm expects the best work possible. Because there is no such thing as a draft, a summer associate should proofread everything he writes. Nothing undermines credibility more than a memorandum full of typos and sentences with improper punctuation. Use The Bluebook, as it is the language spoken by most compulsive former law review editors. Don’t think for a minute that it isn’t your job to read everything that goes anywhere in final form. The quality and accuracy of the work product is the summer associate’s responsibility. Even though supervising lawyers expect to edit summer associates’ work, they don’t want to make revisions that the summer should have handled. Their role is to take the summer associate’s best work and improve it by applying their experience and more extensive knowledge of the case or transaction. Don’t miss a deadline:Deadlines are set for reasons. Assume that time is of the essence. Meet or beat the deadline. Occasionally, deadlines change. Something that was needed next week may be due in a day. Don’t panic. Changing deadlines are a part of the practice of law. You may have to work late or miss an event to honor the new deadline. Adapt, and don’t communicate to the lawyer that you regard the change as an imposition. Exercise good judgment at social events:The firm’s social events provide an opportunity to get to know the lawyers and for the lawyers to get to know you. Events provide a chance to observe summer associates’ people skills and judgment. Don’t over-drink. Don’t confuse summer associate events with the dating game. While good judgment is hard to define, bad judgment is not — it is obvious and embarrassing. Have an optimistic attitude:The summer comes at a huge cost in actual dollars and in human time and energy from lawyers, recruiters and other in-house staff. Be appreciative. Summer associates should show lawyers at the firm that they enjoy what they’re doing. Don’t act as if you wish you were somewhere else. Good luck. Robert L. Galloway is a partner in the trial practice group in the Houston office of Thompson & Knight. He is a member of the firm’s legal personnel and associate development committee. His e-mail address is [email protected] .

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