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Five Qualities Of A Great Summer Associate

by Beverly Aarons 7. May 2012 10:56

If you’re one of the fortunate law school graduates then you’ve probably landed a summer associate job at a law firm. If so, you want to make the best impression possible. Below are a few qualities that can make any summer associate shine:

1.     Professionalism on and off the job.  This may seem like a no-brainer; but many new lawyers make the mistake of getting a little too comfortable in their summer associate positions. Just because a law firm wines and dines you this does not mean that you should let you hair down. Even at casual after work events, summer associates are under the scrutiny of their superiors.  Remain on your best behavior at all times.

2.     The power to say no.  While it is in the best interests of the summer associate to take on as much meaningful work as possible to show off their skills, taking on more work than you can competently complete could be a disaster. One of the biggest mistakes that some summer associates make is failing to inform their superiors when they are overwhelmed.  Don’t make the same mistake.

3.     Eager to build relationships. Law firms want to know that their summer associates have solid interpersonal skills. Demonstrate your superior social skills by building professional relationships with various people throughout the law firm’s ranks. Don’t limit your relationships to only those who hold considerable power, befriend first year associates as well as paralegals, secretaries and your fellow summer associates.

4.     Receptive to constructive criticism. While most law firms have some type of review system for their summer associates, you should take the initiative to seek feedback on your performance before the official review. If there are issues, make a concerted effort to correct course and make notes of your progress.

5.     Work with a mentor. Some law firms assign mentors to their summer associates; but even if they don’t you should take the time to find one of your own.  Once again, don’t limit your mentor search to only those lawyers in the higher ranks of the firm.  It’s perfectly acceptable to find mentors who have only a few years of legal experience under their belt.


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