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May 31, 2017 Practice Points

"Top Five Reasons for Solo and Small Firm Lawyers to Hire a Summer Associate"

By Emily J. Kirk

In the article, "Top Five Reasons for Solo or Small Firm Lawyers to Hire a Summer Associate," written by Carolyn Elefant and published in Above the Law, Elefant proposes that all solo and small firms hire summer associates. Here's why:

  • Chance to Be the Boss – Elefant states that when she started her own firm she didn't have much experience managing others. Even though eight months into her solo practice, she wasn't "raking in the dollars," she felt she could afford an intern so she hired a college student from her alma mater. The student helped her with office tasks and gave her the opportunity to practice being a manager.
  • Risk-Free Experimentation – Elefant suggests that hiring summer associates is a good way to see what it is like to work with staff. The positions are temporary so you don't have to worry about long term costs if it doesn't work out.
  • Chance to Spell Out Your Workflow – If you work on your own, you likely have your own process in place for opening files or filing pleadings, etc. When a summer associate comes on board, you'll have to explain your process. Elefant says at first this may seem like a hassle, but you can have your summer associate document the process so it will be in place for any hires in the future.
  • Create a Marketing Machine – A summer associate can help you keep up on marketing tasks that you may have put off. Assign the summer associate the task of writing blog posts or creating social media marketing pages. According to Elefant, these types of tasks are ideal for summer associates because they are discrete projects that can be finished during the summer, and blog posts create substantive work for the associate since it will likely require the need for research on legal concepts.
  • It's the Ethical Thing To Do – Elefant stresses that as attorneys, we have an obligation to train and educate new attorneys. A solo or small firm attorney can provide invaluable experience for a summer associate by just including him or her in client interviews or court sessions. And hopefully that summer associate will return the favor to other newer attorneys in the future.

Emily J. Kirk is an associate at McCuneWright LLP in St. Louis, Missouri.

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