Bo Shi has completed his second year at Harvard Law School and is returning to Vinson & Elkins for his second stint as a summer associate in the firm’s Houston office. He received a diversity fellowship from V&E during his first year of law school, which included the opportunity to work as a summer associate in 2012. Texas Lawyer research editor Jeanne Graham emailed Shi some questions about his experience as a 1L summer associate and asked for his top advice for incoming 1L summer associates. His answers are below, edited for length and style.

Texas Lawyer: What was something unexpected that you learned during your first summer associate experience with Vinson & Elkins?

Bo Shi: Attorneys at Vinson & Elkins have a reputation for being friendly, but it surprised me to learn just how approachable and helpful everyone was. All the attorneys had a truly open door policy that encouraged asking questions and clarifying assignments — especially important for a summer clerk trying desperately not to embarrass himself.

TL: Which legal assignment was your favorite (or was the most memorable) and why?

Shi: The most memorable assignment I worked on was a memo comparing the common carrier obligations of oil pipelines to those of railways. Though daunting, at first, given my lack of knowledge in the area, I found the assignment to be extremely rewarding. It allowed me to learn more about an area of the law that is so important to Houston’s economy.

TL: Which social event was your favorite (or the most memorable) and why?

Shi: My favorite social event was the annual “Titanium Chef” cook-off, where partners hosted teams of summer clerks and associates at their homes to cook a special dish of their choosing. The dishes were presented to a panel of judges the next day and awards like “best presentation” and “best dish idea” were given out. Some of the teams dressed up in fun costumes and prepared skits for their dish presentations. My team went with a “The Breakfast Club” theme. We made Eggs Benedict and each member of the team dressed up as a different character from the movie. It was great to socialize with the associates and partners in a casual setting over an activity like cooking.

TL: What do you hope to accomplish this summer at V&E?

Shi: I hope to contribute substantively to every project of which I am a part, and to find the practice areas that truly interest me. I look forward to working with accomplished attorneys and to learning more about the areas of law in which I will practice after graduation.

TL: What is the number one advice you would give incoming 1L summer associates?

Shi: Prioritize work. The summer has an undeniably social vibe, but the hiring committee is still looking for clerks who show they are serious about work, and who have submitted quality assignments. You will have plenty of opportunities to socialize, but remember that the entirety of the summer is part of your job interview.