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Cozen O’Connor’s summer associate program has gone from the doghouse to the penthouse. The firm finished No. 1 in the nation in L Magazine’s summer associate survey, leading a strong showing by Philadelphia firms. Cozen finished 138 out of 142 firms in last year’s survey but rebounded with great scores across the board. Blank Rome fell from second to fifth place while Duane Morris was ranked 10th and Fox Rothschild placed 17. Other firms among the 145 that qualified for the survey were Saul Ewing (36), Buchanan Ingersoll (51), Pepper Hamilton (65), Dechert (70), Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll (77), Morgan Lewis & Bockius (92), Drinker Biddle & Reath (111) and Reed Smith (117). Cozen O’Connor hiring partner Martin Duffey said the firm made no dramatic changes to its summer program but rather emphasized portions of it that were prevalent in the past. For instance, Duffey said, the firm has always stressed giving summer associates real work assignments. But this year, summers went on more field trips to take part in depositions and hearings. Duffey also said that the firm has always rotated its summer associates between its three main practice areas — corporate, business litigation and insurance litigation. A summer associate spends four weeks each in a rotation. This year, though, each practice area had one attorney responsible for making sure that summer associates were participating in the aforementioned field trips. And while the firm has always assigned a mentor to give feedback to each summer associate, this year Cozen O’Connor gave summers the chance to grade the firm on how interesting or challenging a particular assignment was. The firm also continued one-on-one dinners with senior partners and a scavenger hunt where summer associates team up with Cozen associates to find landmarks across the city. But in the end, Duffey said it’s about providing summers with interesting work in a positive atmosphere. “You have to like the work you’re doing, and you have to like the people that you work with,” Duffey said. This year’s summer associate survey, conducted from late June to early August, drew responses from 4,503 interns at 188 firms, 145 of which qualified for the national rankings. Surveys were distributed through the firms’ recruiting coordinators, who were contacted in the spring about participating in the survey. Any firm could participate if it had 10 eligible participants firmwide. Eligible summer associates were law students clerking at firms during the summer for at least three weeks before filling out the survey forms. Each firm’s overall score comes from nine key job satisfaction questions: interesting work, how much real work was assigned, training and guidance, partner interaction, associate interaction, how well the firm communicates its goals and expectations, how accurately the firm portrayed itself during interviews, inclination to accept full-time associateship, overall rating as a place to work. There are more than a dozen other categories as well as comments from summer associates. Cozen O’Connor recorded the top score nationally in several categories, including how much real work was assigned, how well the firm communicated its goals and expectations, how accurately the firm portrayed itself during the interview process and overall rating as a place to work. In other questions, Cozen O’Connor was tops nationally for level of responsibility, amount of feedback, a family friendly atmosphere, an entrepreneurial atmosphere, whether the firm’s attorneys would be enjoyable to work with, a clear sense of the firm’s mission and confidence in the firm’s leadership. Blank Rome associates described the level of work at the firm as being “incredibly high and extremely interesting.” The firm had the top score nationally for associate interaction and finished in the top 10 in all but two of the key nine categories. “I didn’t feel like I was doing anyone’s busy work, and my input was wanted,” said Leigh Ann Fierro, a third-year student at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law who spent the summer at Blank Rome and recently accepted an offer for full-time employment. Duane Morris received top 10 national rankings for partner interaction, how much real work was assigned, how accurately the firm portrayed itself during interviews and overall rating as a place to work. In other questions, the firm received the top score nationally for offering opportunities for mentoring. Duane Morris’ summers said they were surprised at how pleasant the attorneys were and described the firm as a “comfortable environment with very nice people.” Fox Rothschild had the top score nationally for having the inclination to accept a full-time position with the firm and also captured high marks for communicating its goals and expectations. Summer associates said they were surprised at the “complexity of the work, the high amount of responsibility and the collegial atmosphere.” “I think that the people there really tried to get to know you as a person,” said Temple Law third-year student Stephanie Fineman, who spent this past summer clerking in Fox Rothschild’s Doylestown office and has accepted a full-time position with the firm. “I mean, you have to work hard. But it’s nice when people know your name and take an interest in what you are doing. It makes you feel like they care about you.” When only factoring in responses from associates in Philadelphia offices, Buchanan Ingersoll was first, followed by Cozen O’Connor, Blank Rome, Duane Morris, Saul Ewing, Wolf Block, Fox Rothschild, Morgan Lewis, Dechert, Pepper Hamilton, Drinker Biddle, Ballard Spahr, Schnader Harrison and Reed Smith. Wolf Block and Schnader Harrison apparently had enough respondents to be considered for the Philadelphia-only chart but not the requisite 10 for the national survey. For a complete breakdown of the survey, check out the L Magazine Web site at www.lzine.com. L Magazine is published by American Lawyer Media Inc., which also publishes The Legal Intelligencer.

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