Five Tips for a Successful Summer Associate Experience

Desiree MooreHow’s your summer legal job going? Today we’re thrilled to welcome back Desiree Moore, founder of Greenhorn Legal, for some expert advice on succeeding in your summer job!

Without further ado, here’s Desiree. (Oh, and check out her new project, House of Marbury, a fun style blog for women lawyers!)

Whether you are interviewing for jobs, or you have secured a clerkship or summer associate position, here are five tips that will ensure a successful experience:

1. Think of your summer position as an extended interview

The most successful summer associates treat their summer position as an extended interview.

Throughout your summer, take care to demonstrate by your attire, demeanor, and interpersonal skills that you are a true professional.

You should also demonstrate that you are a hard worker and that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get your work done. Demonstrate that you are intellectually curious and that you will make a productive member of any legal practice environment.

Your objective over the course of the summer should be to approach your work with energy and enthusiasm, and to put your best foot forward each and every day.

2. Begin to formulate ideas about your career path

Just as your firm or office will be interviewing you, you will want to be interviewing and exploring them, as well.

Use your summer as an opportunity to begin to formulate ideas about your career path and to steer the direction of your career.

Take advantage of whatever resources and opportunities your firm or office has to offer, including by getting involved in a diverse array of cases, projects, and deals. Explore different practice areas, if possible, and seek out professional events that you can participate in, even if just as the designated note taker.

Ask questions of people in different practice areas and try to get an idea of what practice area best comports with the vision you have for your life in the long term. The more initiative you take, the more information you will gather and experience you will gain — and this in turn will allow you to make an informed decision about the direction of your career.

3. Use good judgment

As I talk about in detail in my new lawyer training, there are a number of great ways to hit the ground running and stand apart from your peers in a professional environment. But, as a fall back provision, you will be well served by employing good judgment in every situation you are in.

If there is any doubt in your mind as to whether what you are about to do is prudent, don’t do it.

Instead, take a step back, think, consult with a mentor.

You will never be in the wrong for acting diligently. On the other hand, acting in poor judgment will not reflect well on you and could impact whether you ultimately get an offer.

4. Build relationships

On the whole, summer associates tend to be shy about getting to know people in their offices over the summer. I can assure you, however, that it is never too early to seek out mentors and to build relationships with people in your firm or office. As I share in detail in this training, relationship building is an important part of our profession as a whole and there are a number of great ways to go about building relationships.

As a summer associate, participate in firm activities whenever possible and make a point of getting to know people on a sociable level when you do so.

Of course, you will want to maintain a level of professionalism, but, as lawyers, we are in the service industry and thus your ability to be sociable will say a lot about your potential as a lawyer, as well.

You can also use the assignment process to get to know attorneys in your office. Anytime you get an assignment, do your best work. Always turn in a full, complete, and final work product. And, engage with the assigning attorney in ways that will show that you are someone he or she can rely on. This is a key way to build relationships that will be meaningful and long lasting.

5. Never forgo the opportunity to make an affirmative, positive impression

Finally, you will be well served by taking advantage of every opportunity to make an affirmative, positive impression.

Get on your feet, walk around the office. Have a presence in your office from day one.

Be impressive. Volunteer to do more than just the discreet work you are assigned. Be proactive.

No matter what summer position you have taken on, do not approach it with a “get by” attitude. Work hard to master the work you are given, to stand apart from your peers, and to excel. It’s one summer — there is no reason not to be the best you can be.

Good luck! I know you can do it.

— – —
Thanks, Desiree!

More about Desiree
Desiree Moore is the president and founder of Greenhorn Legal, LLC and author of the ABA Bestselling book Thrive – A New Lawyer’s Guide to Law Firm Practice. Check out Desiree’s new lawyer trainingTHE training for successful summer associates.

Have questions for Desiree? She can be reached by email: or via Twitter at @greenhornlegal.

** Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, so if you decide to sign up for Desiree’s program, I’ll receive a small payment. (But, of course I wouldn’t let her promote it unless I knew it was solid!)

Read On:

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