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David McFarland made the rounds at least once a week from May 10 through June 18. From his office on the 25th floor of the Plaza of the Americas building in Dallas — where he’s a partner in the casualty and tort litigation group at Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons — he’d go visit briefly with two summer associates on the 25th floor, one on the 24th floor and four others on the 23rd. It was usually about 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. “I’d go by and say, “Do you have enough work? How is everything going? Do you need anything?’ — that type of thing,” says McFarland, chairman of the Dallas-based firm’s associate and recruitment committee. Everything seems to have been going well according to the scores the firm received in The American Lawyer’s and Texas Lawyer’s 2004 Summer Associate Survey. Thompson, Coe received the highest possible score from its summer associates for the amount of interaction they had with partners and full-time associates. It was the only firm to receive perfect scores in both categories and the only firm to earn a perfect score for partner contact. The 25 largest firms in Texas (as reported on Texas Lawyer’s “100 Largest Firms in Texas” poster, published on June 28, 2004) were invited by either The American Lawyer (a Texas Lawyer affiliate) or Texas Lawyer to distribute information about the survey to their summer associates. The publications conducted the survey from June through early August, and 354 associates from 18 firms responded. A minimum of five responses about a firm was required for inclusion in the final survey. Two firms — Dallas-based Godwin Gruber and Fort Worth, Texas-based Cantey & Hanger — did not have enough respondents to qualify for inclusion. Each firm’s overall score is based on nine job satisfaction questions rated by the summer associates — law students who had completed two years of law school and had worked at the firm for at least three weeks. The American Lawyer and Texas Lawyer asked each summer associate to rate his or her firm as a place to work; whether the assigned work was interesting; how much real work was assigned; training and guidance; partner interaction; associate interaction; how well the firm communicated its goals and expectations; how accurately the firm portrayed itself during the interview process; and the summer associates’ inclination to accept a full-time position with the firm. The summer associates gave their firms a score from one to five — with five being the highest — in each of the nine categories. The ratings from each respondent, for each question, were averaged and those numbers were averaged again to reach each firm’s overall score. As a whole, the summer associates gave the firms the highest scores for associate interaction and the lowest scores for training and guidance. Most of the summer associates gave their firms average scores for interaction with partners and the amount of real work assigned. The firms consistently received low marks for whether the assigned work was interesting and for communicating goals and expectations. Not only were the summer associates at Thompson, Coe satisfied with the amount of partner interaction they received, but they also gave the firm a perfect score as a place to work. Thompson, Coe’s overall score was 4.60 for a rank of third place among the 16 firms on the survey. “I think that’s more of a credit to the firm as a whole than to the recruiting program,” McFarland says. “We try our best to get them to see what it’s like to work here.” The summer associates gave the firm its lowest score in how well it communicated its goals and expectations. “That’s something we need to correct,” McFarland says. “I will try to talk with the group coming in that we hired, and see if we can find ways to improve.” The firm made offers to six of its summer associates and five have accepted, he says. They will join the firm as full-time associates in the fall of 2005. “I have an exit interview with each candidate their last week here and try to find out where we can do better and what we did well,” McFarland says. “They don’t always tell me everything.” HEAD OF THE CLASS High scores at Chamberlain Hrdlicka White Williams & Martin for associate and partner interaction, the amount of real work assigned, and the firm’s portrayal of itself during the interview process helped put the Houston-based firm at the top of the list with an overall score of 4.68. The firm made offers to four summer associates, and all have accepted, says George Connelly, chairman of Chamberlain Hrdlicka’s summer recruiting program. “We assign each summer associate three mentors and at least one of them is a shareholder in their likely practice area,” Connelly says. It’s the job of the shareholder and two associate mentors to stay in touch with the summer associate and make sure that the workload is manageable, he says. Summer social events are an opportunity for the summer clerks to experience the more collegial aspect of being a lawyer at Chamberlain Hrdlicka, he says. In addition to a few happy hours, a poker night and a bowling night, the firm also holds Six Flags AstroWorld night. “Not everybody loves the rides,” says Connelly, who has been a member of the American Coaster Enthusiasts since 1985. “Riding the rides is not a determining factor in hiring,” he says. The summer associates gave the firm its lowest rating, a 4.14, in the interesting work category. “They do everything from help us with writing articles to doing real substantive work, which may entail going to depositions, writing summary judgments, and a lot of writing and research,” says Wayne Risoli, the firm’s managing shareholder. Dallas-based Strasburger & Price also received its lowest rating from the summer clerks in the interesting work category. “We give them a realistic picture of what the first several years of work will be, which obviously is a lot of research and drafting memos,” says Toni Scott Reed, one of the firm’s hiring partners. The work they are assigned — drafting discovery motions and pleadings — is real work passed on to the clients, Reed says. “People do a lot of new work, a lot of new challenges that are not done in law school work,” she says. The firm received high marks from the summer clerks for associate and partner interaction (5.00 and 4.73 respectively) and a 4.67 score overall to rank No. 2 among the 16 firms. So far, eight of the 12 summer associates who received full-time offers from the firm have accepted, Reed says. Each summer associate is assigned three lawyers — a partner, a senior-level associate and a junior-level associate, she says. The partner coordinates the summer associate’s work assignments. “The partner is the person who organizes the process for them and gets other partners to assign them work,” she says. “And [the partner] is the person that teaches them how to prioritize, how to meet deadlines and balance a large work load.” The senior associate makes sure the summer associate gets outside the office. For example, if the summer associate is in the litigation section, the senior associate makes sure the summer associate gets out to see a trial, deposition or hearing at least once a week, Reed says. The junior associate is called the associate mentor to the summer associate and helps with day-to-day survival, she says. They help the summer associates find the library, give any advice they need, and coordinate lunch assignments so the summer associates meet a variety of partners and associates. ACCEPTANCE RATES Houston-based Baker Botts received one of its lowest scores, 3.81, for training and guidance (the most common complaint among all summer associates). David Sterling, hiring partner in the firm’s Houston office, says he’s surprised by the rating and not sure why the associates were dissatisfied with the training they received. With an overall rating of 4.02 points, Baker Botts ranks 15th among the firms on the survey. The firm earned high marks for accurate self-portrayal during the interview process, the amount of real work assigned and associate interaction. Sterling says that summer assignments are real work, not “make-work. We have a lot of assignments in which summer associates are doing research, briefing and due diligence where we bill the clients,” he says. Sterling says the acceptance rate among summer associates offered jobs in the Houston office is higher than 50 percent. The firm reports it made 81 offers Texas-wide and has received 43 acceptances. “The acceptance rate is the final barometer on the success of the program,” he says. Dallas-based Jenkens & Gilchrist ranked 16th among the firms on the survey, with an overall score of 3.48. In addition to receiving its highest score (4.00) for associate interaction, the firm also received its best scores for the amount of real work assigned (3.71) and the way the firm portrayed itself during the interview process (3.71). Like many other firms, Jenkens received its lowest rating (3.14) in the guidance and training category. In an e-mail, Robert Dockery, chairman of the firm’s employment committee, wrote, “From what we heard during exit interviews, from anecdotal information, and in ongoing discussions, we believe that the summer associate program was valuable to and well-received by the students as a whole.” Locke Liddell & Sapp also received its highest scores from summer associates in the associate interaction and the amount of real work assigned categories — a 4.48 for each. The summer associates gave the firm, based in Dallas and Houston, its lowest score (4.13) for partner interaction. The firm’s overall rank is 11th. Stephanie Donaho, the partner in charge of recruiting, isn’t overly concerned about the survey results since the firm did nothing different from previous years when partner interaction was Locke’s best category. “Maybe, the economy clearly picked up this year, and partners were extraordinarily busy,” Donaho says. “I didn’t perceive there to be that much of a difference.” Like Sterling at Baker Botts, Donaho says that the acceptance rate for full-time associate offers is the key measurement of a successful summer program. She says that 10 out of 14 offers have been accepted in the firm’s Houston office, and 14 out of 23 offers have been accepted in Dallas. “That’s one of the best rates of acceptance that we’ve had,” Donaho says. Summer associates gave Dallas-based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld its highest marks (4.75 points each) for associate interaction and the inclination to accept a job if offered. That inclination is demonstrated through job acceptance rates. Only two of the 16 summer associates offered full-time positions in the Dallas office declined the offer, says Eliot Raffkind, hiring partner in the Dallas office. The firm received its lowest score — a 4.22 — for training and guidance. The firm ranks seventh among the firms on the survey. “We have some structure in the summer program, but overall, the way we approach life [is this:] If we can avoid structure, we like to,” Raffkind says. “As we see these kinds of stats and surveys, it causes us to say, “What can we do to make it better?’ ” he says. “ Nothing is off limits to improvement.” METHODOLOGY The 25 largest firms in Texas were invited by either Texas Lawyer or The American Lawyer (an ALM publication) to distribute information to their summer associates about the 2004 Summer Associate Survey — 354 summer associates from 18 firms responded. The survey was conducted from June through early August. Only 16 firms are listed on the chart because we required a minimum of five responses about a firm for inclusion; Godwin Gruber and Cantey & Hanger did not have enough responses to qualify for inclusion. Six firms from among the largest 25 had no respondents to the survey. They are Beirne, Maynard & Parsons; Clark, Thomas & Winters; Gardere Wynne Sewell; Jones Day; Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson; and Vinson & Elkins. One firm from among the largest 25 — Brown McCarroll — had no summer associates this year. The firms invited to participate were among the 25 largest firms in Texas, as reported on Texas Lawyer’s “100 Largest Firms in Texas” poster, published June 28, 2004. The summer associates — students who completed their second year of law school and clerked at the firms for at least three weeks — rate the firms on nine fundamental aspects of job satisfaction: overall rating as a place to work; whether the work was interesting; how much real work was assigned; training and guidance; partner interaction; associate interaction; how well the firm communicated its goals and expectations; how accurately the firm portrayed itself during interviews; and inclination to accept a full-time position. Respondents are guaranteed anonymity. The rating choices range in point value from 1 to 5, with the higher score the better ranking. The ratings from each respondent, for each question, were averaged, and those numbers were averaged again to reach each firm’s overall score.

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