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As you start your summer program, you are going to get a lot of professional advice, including tips on legal research and admonitions such as “never enter a partner’s office without a pad and pen,” but not from this article. Instead, let’s focus on how to navigate your way through the Summer Associate Social Scene. If you are going to be working at a mid-size to large firm, you have probably heard about the infamous three-hour lunches, Broadway shows and themed events that will pepper your calendar. This summer will require you to tackle both challenging assignments and lavish cocktail parties with equal poise. Demonstrating your legal acumen throughout the coming weeks is of obvious importance, but the way you present yourself at firm social functions is another significant factor in determining whether you are a “good fit” for the firm. Here are some socially savvy tips to help you network your way to an offer. While many law firms have gone to business casual, they are not as progressive on dress as other industries (in some firms you may even see a bow tie or two). Keep it professional, neat and ironed. When in doubt, err on the conservative side. You are never wrong to wear a suit, even if more casual attire is permitted. The recruiting coordinator of your firm is often a good person to ask about the dress policy. These events are a great way for you to get to know the other lawyers at the firm and for them to get to know you. Try to attend as many as possible — you are the guests of honor, after all. Use the opportunity to meet as many of the firm’s attorneys as you can. Meeting your co-workers in a social setting will help you feel out whom you would most like to work with. At some point, you will be faced with the following situation: The boat cruise sails at 6 p.m., but it’s 5:15 p.m. and you are still waiting for an attorney to call you back to discuss your research results. What do you do? Consider dropping by the attorney’s office to explain the situation. Let her know that you would gladly miss the event if you are needed, but could use some guidance. The attorney will either tell you to stick around or will reschedule your discussion for the next day. She will know that you have your priorities in order, yet you will avoid missing the event unnecessarily. On the other hand, if you know you are working on a brief that is due in the next few days, or a deal that is about to close, you are simply going to miss the event. Having a summer’s worth of activities centered around you is really fun. With events ranging from ceramics painting to bowling to art gallery tours, your summer program may feel more like summer camp. Nonetheless, firms use events, parties and luncheons not only to woo you during the hiring process, but to evaluate your ability to interact with other attorneys and with clients. While it is important to relax and enjoy yourself, a few basic points will keep you out of trouble. The first rule is: Do not drink like you are at a frat party. If you mistakenly violate the first rule, try to quietly leave the event as soon as appropriate to minimize the damage. If you end up going a bit overboard with the festivities, the best way to make up for it is to arrive bright and early the next morning, looking your best, and make sure people know you are ready and able to work. As the saying goes, if you hoot with the owls at night, you better be ready to soar with the eagles at dawn. Lastly, when it comes to the wining and dining, do not whine that the events are not cool enough or that another firm has better ones. Your firm is doing its best to roll out the red carpet for you — complaining will not endear you to the hiring committee. Be appreciative and act as if you want to be where you are. The summer program will probably have a mix of attorney-only and attorney-plus-guest events. Unless you have been invited with a date, you should assume the event is an attorney-only event. Any uncertainty can usually be cleared up with a quick call to your recruiting coordinator. For attorney-plus-guest events, you should not feel that you must bring a date. It is perfectly acceptable to come alone, and it is definitely not the place for a first date. On the other hand, you should not hesitate to bring your significant other. With all of the social events throughout the summer, it’s likely that you will become close friends with many of your summer associate classmates. If you are romantically drawn to one of them (or to a permanent associate), you’ll want to keep this between the two of you until the program is over. You may be invited by partners and associates to go out to lunch several times throughout the summer. These lunches are a lot of fun, and are a great way to try the city’s top restaurants. However, they can take you out of the office for two to three hours, making it harder to get your work done, or causing you to miss the opportunity to take on a new assignment. Thus, there may be occasions when you prefer not to go out to lunch. It is much better to skip a lunch than an event. A lunch involves fewer people and has not already been paid for by the firm. Simply say thank you for the invitation, and explain that you have too much work to take a long lunch that day. If the lunch invitation comes from a partner, however, the socially savvy summer associate will go even if it means working late that night. Partners are the decision-makers and equity holders of the firm, and if partners are going out of their way to take an interest in you, you don’t want to discourage them. When you do attend a lunch, watch your table manners. Follow the lead of the other attorneys when ordering. If they order an appetizer, you should order one too. If they do not, then you should not. Let your hosts know that you are appreciative of the time they took out of their day to get to know you better. And last, while you may be taken to many upscale restaurants, don’t act like your goal for the summer is to dine at the Zagat’s Top 10. If you know you want to work with a select department or group within the firm, you can use social events as a way to ingratiate yourself with the group’s members. Always accept lunch invitations from them, and focus on getting to know the individuals in the group at firm events. The better you know the people you want to work with, the more likely they will pull for you to be added to the department. Some firms host events or lunches where the summer associates get to pick the attorneys who will accompany them. Inviting members from your favorite group is a wonderful opportunity to reinforce your interest. The summer associate program is essentially an eight-week interview. While you should be stunning the partners with your legal prowess in the office, you should also be wowing them outside it with your social grace. Intelligence and personality are a winning combination. Make sure the firm knows that you are strong in both. Laura M. Twomey is a senior associate in the New York office of Fulbright & Jaworski.

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