Law students today are a serious bunch. “Although I appreciate the fancy lunches, dinners, ball games, retreats, etc., I am more interested in experiencing what life actually will be like as a first-year associate,” reads one typical remark from an intern at Heller Ehrman in Menlo Park, Calif. “Make sure summer associates have enough work to do — most of us would rather stay late than spend days bored,” counseled a Cahill Gordon & Reindel summer associate. They may welcome — and even expect — the fun and games, but they know that all the pampering goes by the wayside once they sign on as a permanent associate.

Partners and administrators involved in the recruitment process say that this need-to-know approach is coming from a couple of places. Summer clerks today are much more knowledgeable consumers. “Five or six years ago, summer associates would ask questions like, ‘How many lawyers do you have?’ or, ‘What are your practice areas?’” says Jennifer Gotch, director of recruiting at Atlanta’s Arnall Golden Gregory. “You never hear that anymore.” Instead, summer clerks are digging deeper, asking firms to open up their books, discuss their strategic plans, and describe their partnership track — in detail.