Young businessman sitting with legs crossed relaxing on the beach

Dear Summer Associate:

Do you miss your sand-filled shorts of bygone summers? Do you yearn for popsicles for breakfast and entire afternoons wasted watching Law & Order reruns in a damp bathing suit?

We can’t bring back the good old days of summer, but we can brighten your season if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the Big Law experience.

No doubt many of you are thoroughly enjoying your summer associate job, but for those who feel anxious about your performance or worried about the impression you’ve made on hiring partners, here’s some help.


Your pals at ALM

First, compare only leads to despair. Nagged by self-doubt because others in your group seem confident, at ease and born to practice? Stop it. You deserve a pat on the back for even snagging a summer gig.

Here’s why. The latest numbers of summer associate jobs offered are soft. The tallies for 2017 are not yet available, but totals for last year came in flat. While some firms increased the number of offers they extended to law students for summer associate positions in 2016, half said they made fewer offers than the year before, the first time in four years that a majority reduced offers.

Also keep this in mind: You must have done something right during the interview if you made the cut for a summer slot. Take comfort from the tales of hiring partners about interviews gone badly awry. Pointers include keeping your feet off the partner’s desk during the interview and refraining from claiming on your resume that your hobby is “dogs” if you, in fact, don’t have one.

Count your blessings that you’re not in Miami or D.C. If history holds true, your chances are below average of landing a full-time gig after a summer associate job in those two cities, which last year showed full-time job offer rates under 90 percent. And even if you are working there this summer, you’re likely to beat those odds.

Still don’t know what kind of law you want to practice? There’s a test for that.

Some firms are using personality profile tests to help lawyers and practice groups get the right match. For the past two years, Koley Jessen, an Omaha-based firm with about 70 attorneys, has relied on The Right Profile, a Chicago-based talent analytics firm, to run an online psychological test to help place summer associates within the right practice groups.

If you’re working at Choate Hall & Stewart or Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer this summer, chances are you’re a happy camper. Choate Hall and Kaye Scholer (which merged with Arnold & Porter in January) won the top spot in The American Lawyer’s Summer Associates Survey two years in a row.

Concerned you’re blending in and not distinguishing yourself from the crowd of other summer associates? Consider loosening up.

“If anything, the summer associates tend to be super conservative” in the way they dress, one partner at a major firm told The American Lawyer columnist Vivia Chen in May. “That said, the trend is that firms are getting increasingly casual,” Chen writes.

Or you could try an act of heroism to set yourself apart, like Andrew Miller.

The 23-year-old came to the rescue of Baker McKenzie partner John Rowley III, who was attacked in June by a group of young thugs in a D.C. train station. Miller, a law student at George Washington University, scared off the bad guys and got a summer associate job offer out of it.

And finally, if you do land a full-time job after your summer gig, here’s what not to do should you later be fired.

Former Dentons associate Michael Potere, 32, was arrested earlier this month and accused of trying to extort $210,000 and a piece of artwork from the firm, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and a criminal complaint filed in federal court. Potere allegedly downloaded sensitive documents, then threatened to leak the information to the legal blog Above the Law unless his demands for the money and artwork were met, according to the government’s complaint.