Saturday, November 22, 2008

Summer 09

One of our commenters asked about next summer and whether everyone is "screwed."  The answer is, no.  I assume you mean for those of you who have offers?  Well, let's start there.   The majority of you will head into your summer jobs as usual. Some programs may be shorter than before.  This wouldn't alarm me.  Remember, firms view summer programs as a long term investment, not a money making enterprise.  So, it is understandable that they may limit the number of weeks summer associates spend in their offices.  

My advice for you is similar to what I did when I was a summer during a tough economic time (note: I was the only one in my summer class to get an outright offer...others were on "hold.").  Keep your head down.  Work work work ... like a dog.  Yes, you should take part in social activities  But, if there is a non-command performance and you have a project to finish...finish it.  It would be helpful to get in early, stay late, have people view you as the type of person they would want to work with longer term.  We often ask, is this someone I would want to work with at 2am if I had a deadline that took us into an this someone who I can spend time with...and who I can trust to put the time in, not blow stuff off, and do a solid job?

Yes, this summer will be tough.  You need to show that you are tough (but pleasant), bright, dependable.  Double-check your work, be enthusiastic about your projects.  If an important partner invites you to watch his or her depositions, negotiations, etc.  - GO.  Look interested.  Help with whatever is needed.  You need to make even more of an effort to show you are a STAR.  The fun is over, it is time to bear down.


Richard said...

What about advice (other than grades, grades, grades) for current 1L's that are really unsure about the future? Anything to give us a one-up?

Anonymous said...

"I assume you mean for those of you who have offers? Well, let's start there."
Going along the same lines with Richard's question, how about those who have not gotten offers? Are they screwed?

at said...

I'm a 2L in a competitive city, albeit at a lower tier school (but that is VERY respected in the area). I have an advanced degree, work experience in law school and prior to for three years. I've interned for a judge, interned at a corporation, worked for a law firm. I feel as though as I have a good, well-rounded package to attract a summer associate offer. I interviewed, I had callbacks, no offer. Same excuse over and over: economy, economy, we're only taking1 or 2 from your school, we're cutting back on our summer class this year. In fact, one firm told me even BEFORE the screening began that they are cutting their class for this summer in half! And they are well-respected firm.

I'm at my wits end as to what to do. I know Biglaw is no longer an option--but what should I be looking at? Should I continue at the corporation in-house where I work now, knowing that they won't hire me without firm experience? Is solo/small firm summer associate the way to go? From what I know of the economy and understand from others, small and medium firms won't know until at least Feb of their hiring needs b/c of the greater impact the economy has on them and their budgets.

Any thoughts HP? I'm dying over here.

Anonymous said...

I second Richard's question--I'm a 1L who'd love to know what to do/expect for next summer.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a similar boat to 7:44 above. I interviewed, went through a number of callbacks, but at the end of the day and often, after waiting in upwards of 4-5 weeks despite persistent contact, I am offer-less. I definitely feel that I was adversely affected by the economic downturn.

I'm not quite sure how to conceptualize this. The door to a SA position has shut for now, but should I still think about the possibility of interviewing again as a 3L? Will employers later ask, "Why weren't you a summer associate?"

What are some new and meaningful approaches 2Ls can take to spending their summer? Should I take the downturn as an opportunity to do something else, try my hand at a new field; or do I chase legal work no matter where it is? For the record, I have already accumulated two summers worth of legal experience as a joint degree. I don't want to pigeonhole myself with three summers of government legal work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. I have a follow-up question. I'm working with a firm who had a fairly emphatic 9-5 work schedule for SA's last summer. The only person who went beyond that was viewed by the other SAs as a bit of a tool and kiss-ass.

This summer might be different, but if it is not... would I really want to be that person viewed by the other SAs as a kiss-ass for staying late when no one else is.

f-3 said...

9:16am - I was one of those who spent more time in the office than other SAs, and I understand the struggle to not look like a big kiss ass gunner. Yes, it's a dilemma. I hope HP has more to add, but here are my two cents based on my own experiences this past summer.

I made the choice to take my cues from the associates and partners, rather than the SAs, because the attorneys are trying to evaluate you as a potential COLLEAGUE, and not just a summer intern.

So, your first priority: Put in the time you need to produce your best work, to not leave your assigning attorney in the lurch, and to finish your assignments on time. You shouldn't let other SAs implicitly or explicitly pressure you into not meeting your work obligations. Remember - they are not the ones who will be deciding on your offer at the end of the day. You owe them collegiality and such, and you should absolutely spend the time to bond with your summer class, but beyond that, your obligation lies with the firm and the attorneys who give you work.

If you are having trouble deciding on how to juggle your workload, then just go talk to a partner or senior associate. Nobody is ever going to fault you for soliciting that sort of advice.

Of course, it'd be another story if you are routinely having trouble finishing your work within a reasonable amount of time. That's an issue you have to analyze, and discuss with your assigning attorneys. "Do you think I spent too much time on a minor issue? Did I spend too much time digging up unnecessary stuff for you to read?" But again, you should evaluate that in the context of the work assigned to you, and not let other SAs' choices dictate what you think is the most professional behavior / decision.

Anonymous said...

f-3, thank you very much for the insight.

f-3 said...

A follow-up for 11/25 9:16am, and other SAs - you'll rarely run into a situation where the attorney says you have to keep looking for an answer until you find it. Most of the time, they will say, "I don't want you to spend more than X hours / Y days researching this," or they'll say "I'm not looking for a memo - your work will be a supporting footnote, so I just need the cases and parentheticals explaining what they stand for."

If they don't say anything, then you should feel free to ask, "how many hours maximum should I bill on this?" Again, perfectly legit question. It's a simple and guilt-free way to help you plan your workload.