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Summer Associate Advice Reprised

July 7, 2008

We are at the mid-point in the summer where summer associates and interns have been around long enough to start to feel comfortable.  DON’T!  Last week my intern showed me “what happens when you Google ‘hobag'” on her computer…I think we need to revisit Associates – Don’t “Just Be Yourself” where Jocelyn reminded summers that their positions are summer long interviews where they are being scrutinized and need to keep their guard up. 

Above the Law also recently posted a memo from NYU career services to law students about How Not to Succeed as a Summer Asssociate.  The memo informs students:

  • Your reputation is your most valuable commodity
  • Be a team player
  • Resist the tone of entitlement
  • Maintain a positive attitude
  • Attend firm social events regularly
  • Be careful about confiding in work colleagues
  • Maintain client confidentiality
  • Be consistently courteous to support staff

It also offers approaches to assignments; feedback/evaluations and mentors; office protocol and what to do if you do not receive an offer.  The memo cites the following “Real World Examples of Career Limiting Behavior”:

A. Unimpressed with the quality of the wine being served at the summer welcome dinner, summer associate orders a special bottle of wine. To make matters worse, summer associate charges the wine to the firm.
B. Summer associate complains about having a windowless office and then claims to have been “promised” a window during the interview process.
C. Summer associate is criticized for filing motion without attachments . . . summer associate blames the secretary.
D. Summer associate shows up at all firm events involving food, and is so busy eating that they fail to socialize with anyone else.
E. Summer associate makes typographical errors in memoranda.
F. Summer associate paints their toenails in the office, assuming 10 p.m. is “her own time”.
G. Summer associate refuses to work past 7:00 p.m. or on weekends.
H. Summer associate sleeps 12 hours a day during the firm’s three-day sailing trip.
I. Summer associate fails to Shepardize.
J. Summer associate yells at support staff.
K. Summer associate misses a deadline.
L. Summer associate makes up citation to support the position he/she is trying to prove in a brief filed with the court (resulting in immediate termination and letter to Board of Professional Responsibility).
M. Wishing to play on the firm’s ice hockey team, summer associate loudly and persistently discusses their skill as a high school hockey player and claims that he would easily be the best player on the ice. The senior associate who organizes the team is a former NHL player.
N. Summer associate decides to give client legal advice without the express permission of supervising attorney.
O. Summer associate refuses to make edits to a draft brief because “I was an English major in college and I know your edits are incorrect.”
P. Summer associate engages in public display of affection with co-clerk in library.
Q. Summer associate turns in a research project that did not answer the question assigned.
R. Summer associate throws up after a firm cocktail party as a result of excess consumption of alcohol.
S. Summer associate visits Internet porn sites at the office.
T. Summer associate forwards a sexist joke to several attorneys at the firm.
U. Summer associate has loud, crass personal conversations regularly from office phone.
V. Summer associate plagiarizes paragraph in memorandum from hornbook.
W. Summer associate is not available to stay late to assist in closing in order to have drinks as planned with other summer associates.
X. Summer associate falls asleep at negotiation session in conference room.
Y. Summer associate removes several attorneys’ phones for an afternoon as a practical joke.
Z. Summer associate takes a significant amount of office supplies (including 10-12 notebooks) home for personal use.
AA. Summer associate organizes summer associate outing to strip club and bills firm.
BB. Summer associate plucks flowers from flowerpot in firm’s lobby.
CC. Summer associate asks printer to create 500 copies of bound document instead of 50 after mishearing directions from partner.
DD. Summer associate trash talks an associate in public area in law firm.
EE. Summer associate berates female partner for her lack of skill at firm softball event.
FF. Summer associate tells a partner that the way he is trying to make a fire during a firm canoe trip is “dumb”; same summer associate, later on the canoe trip, goes skinny dipping with senior associate.
GG. Summer associate uses lunch budget for personal grooming, including a manicure/pedicure.
HH. Summer associate extends disingenuous lunch invite to attorney in order to dine at an expensive restaurant.
II. Summer associate is participating on a conference call with a partner. At 6:45 p.m., summer associate points to their watch, whispers “I have concert tickets,” and leaves the room.
JJ. Summer associate receives an e-mail from a senior associate, sent to the whole summer class, requesting a volunteer to help with an assignment. Summer associate promptly e-mails the senior associate back, informing senior associate that he is busy, but so-and-so (another summer associate) should have some time and can help out.
KK. Summer associate says to a British-trained senior associate “I don’t know where you went to law school, but in America summer associates get more sophisticated work assignments”.
LL. Summer associate proudly informs one senior associate that upon the receipt of an offer of permanent employment, she would only work with two members of the department and be the “go-to” person for them because she doesn’t really enjoy working with anyone else.

“Career Limiting Behavior” may be my new favorite term.  The full memo is long, but worth a read and worth sending to any law students – as well as some attorneys.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2008 6:50 pm

    Was moderate safe search “on” or “off”? That makes a big difference when searching phrases like “hobag”.


  1. Best thing a social media person can do? Be alone. | Paul Armstrong (@munkyfonkey)

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