chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.

Student Lawyer

Student Essentials

Give Us 30 Minutes, We'll Help You Master Your Summer Associate Experience

ABA Law Student Division

Give Us 30 Minutes, We'll Help You Master Your Summer Associate Experience

Jump to:

To help you get ready to start your BigLaw internship, young lawyers are sharing their advice on how to make the most out of your summer associate experience and land the job offer after the "three-month interview" in this 30 Tips in 30 Minutes video from the ABA Young Lawyers Division.

Hosting the webinar are: Cabell Clay of Moore & Van Allen PLLC in Charlotte, NC.; and Perry MacLennan of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd P.A. in Charleston, SC.

The moderator is Kristina Bilowus of Findling Law in Royal Oak, Mich.

Orient to the Firm/Organization

1. Find a Mentor
A more senior person who takes an interest in your career can provide you with knowledge, insight, and guidance. Look for a mentor from your firm, bar association, or alumni from your law school.

2. Receive Software Training
Work closely with the person responsible for technology. The training will pay off in more ways than just learning the systems.

3. Learn the Law
Take on as wide a variety of assignments as possible. The more diverse work you do, the easier it will be to determine what aspects of the law you enjoy.

4. Understand Research Economics
Contact your administrator or firm mentor to get a full understanding of how the firm will be charged before you go online. Sometimes the best place to start is Google.

5. Accept Assignments
Listen to the assignment, take notes, and ask questions. Asking questions is a great way to learn and demonstrate interest. And, do your best to never turn down work.

6. Know Who Does What
Learn about the firm’s administration. Building relationships with key non-lawyers at your firm can help build your reputation and show commitment to the firm.

7. Get Time Estimates
Ask for a time estimate when you receive an assignment because Partners may not be aware of projects assigned to you by other partners. Also, alert the assigning attorney if your initial research poses any doubt about meeting that deadline.

8. Know Your Firm
Become familiar with all the practice areas and offices of your firm.

9. Look The Part
Dress neatly and conservatively so you never have to turn down a client meeting or court visit because you are not dressed appropriately.

Interact with Colleagues

10. Incorporate Assigning Attorney’s Styles
Adapt to the difference in writing among the partners and senior associates for whom you work by reading their prior work product. It is a worthwhile challenge to satisfy a variety of bosses.

11. Be Respectful
Every employee plays a part in the success of your practice, from the copy services person to the paralegal. If you are rude to staff members, the lawyers will find out.

12. Solicit Feedback
If you don’t ask for feedback you may not get it and feedback is a valuable learning tool. This feedback will help you become better and learn better what expectations are for your firm.

13. Learn From Mistakes
Ask for help, and learn as much as you can from others’ mistakes and examples. If you do make a mistake, let your supervising attorney know immediately.

14. Socialize With Caution
Be sure to always attend firm social events to which you are invited. Be aware that these events are designed to test how you hold yourself in a social setting, so never overindulge.

Administrative Matters

15. Report All Time
Record and report all of your time even if you think you spent too much of it on one project. Partners know that doing something for the first time takes longer and they will adjust your time accordingly.

16. Utilize A Calendar System
Learn what tools your firm has or find one that works for you and those with whom you work most closely.

17. Read Time Reports
Review your own time and talk to a partner if you think you may have spent too much time on a project.

18. Organize Work
Case files need to be organized. If your firm does not have a pre-set system, create one that you and your team can use with ease.

19. Do Your Best Work
Socializing with co-workers will be a major part of your experience but the work that you produce can be the difference between getting a job offer and not.

20. Create A File Format
If your firm does not already have a computerized or manual form file, create one on your own. Train your staff to complete routine or frequently used forms when possible. You will not recreate the wheel while completing routine assignments.

21. Keep A List Of Major Projects You Completed
At the end of your clerkship, you may be asked to complete a self-evaluation that asks about the major projects you completed. You will also want to reflect on what you learned while working for your firm.

22. Indicate Satisfaction
When you worked on an assignment that you really enjoyed, tell the supervising attorney that you enjoyed the project and would enjoy working with them again. This will help you build relationships and hone your skills.

Client Relationships

23. Recognize Your Internal Clients
Your primary clients as a new attorney are the partners and more senior associates you serve and assist. Make sure you would enjoy working for them as a lawyer if you wish to continue your career at the firm.

24. Create An Action Plan
Consider creating an action plan with measurable goals. A goal should be specific, realistic, and capable of completion within an identifiable time frame, such as learning a new area of the law or shadowing a deposition or trial.

Marketing and Business Development

25. Join Bar Associations
Membership in many Local, State, National, or Specialty bar associations is open to law students, and it is a wise investment in your knowledge base and professional network. Most of these organizations are free or of nominal cost to Law Students.

26. Get Active In the Community
Become involved in organizations that mean something to you. Even as a law student, these activities will give you exposure and offer you opportunities to begin building a network of contacts.

27. Network Inside The Firm
Seek assignments from senior associates and a variety of partners. The more people who know you and the quality of your work, the more opportunities you will have to develop and progress.


28. Be The First One In The Office
Arrive early to work. Lawyers at your firm will be impressed when they arrive and see you already hard at work. “If you are early, you are on time. If you are on-time, you are late, and if you are late you are left behind.”

29. Be On Time For Meetings
When you are attending meetings, be sure to arrive promptly even if others do not. Always bring work or reading material with you so you can use your time well while waiting for others.

30. Master Time Management
Devise a daily routine and, as often as possible, stick to it. Avoid procrastination and learn to control your time so that you can work efficiently.

You can read all of the tips in this PDF.