Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. “My firm’s summer associate program felt more like summer camp,” said one recent law school graduate in Philadelphia. “We worked nine to five and had nonstop activities: lunches out every day, cooking classes, nights at the theater, dinner parties at the partners’ homes. It was fun, but it didn’t give me a very realistic picture of life at the firm.”

Go ahead — enjoy the social activities and other summer associate perks. But in the midst of those cooking classes and dinner parties, it’s also important to get a true sense of what life is really like at the firm. Just as your firm is evaluating you, you also need to size up the firm and decide if it will be the right match. If you don’t, you risk the unpleasant surprise of joining the firm as a new associate and finding that it bears no resemblance to the wining and dining of the previous summer. Three fundamental questions can help you assess whether your summer firm is a place where you’ll enjoy working later on.

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