Bringing “It” Up: Defining the (Employment) Relationship

Vol. 42 No. 7


Emily Acosta is an associate at Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney, Ltd., in Chicago. Rachel Jennings is a career development advisor at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

We’ve all been there in romantic relationships—wondering “Are we ‘just friends’ or more than that?” At some point, to avoid the uncertainty and uneasiness, you decide to have the “define-the-relationship” talk with the person you’re dating. You want a committed relationship, and you hope they do too!

You may recognize those same feelings of uncertainty while working as an intern or law clerk. You wonder “Am I ‘just a law clerk’ or is there full-time employment potential here?” Particularly, 3Ls clerking in small or midsize law firms or at legal aid organizations may find themselves wondering if their efforts are leading to post-graduate positions or if their employers have no intention of extending a full-time job offer. Just like in a romantic relationship, it’s best to “define-the-relationship” with your employer early.

This article provides proven tips for how to have a successful “define-the-relationship” conversation with your employer.

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