Associate, Clerk, or Intern: Surviving and Thriving This Summer

By William Peacock, Esq. on May 14, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It’s summertime! Unlike your younger years as a carefree college kid delivering pizza, this summer you’ll be doin’ time in an office. You’ll spend your days researching law, handling client intake, or if you have a really unique boss, writing movie scripts!

In the old days, most law students would spend their summers working for a judge, a BigLaw firm, or in a public service internship. Today’s reality is a bit different, and you could be working anywhere from BigLaw to a craigslist-sourced crapternship™. No matter where you work, however, keep these tips in mind:

4. This (Probably) Won't Lead to a Job; It Will Follow You

Oh, you haven't heard? No one is hiring. Even if they are, most smaller employers aren't going to hold a job open for a year or two while you finish school, fail the bar, and retake the bar twice more.

Permanent gig or not, future prospective employers will contact that firm. They'll talk about your work habits, wardrobe, and the time you broke into tears in the office after finding out that McSteamy on Grey's Anatomy died after the plane crash.

3. Flex For the Odd Request; Don't Be a 'Yes' Man or Woman

Who would've thought that an internship with a general practice firm would've led to a movie script about a Chinese immigrant prostitute-turned-lawyer? Though that abomination of a film was never made, the writing (and casting) was beyond fun. It also provided a much more informal way to get to know the boss.

Handling odd requests doesn't require you to be a pushover, however. Once you've built a comfortable working relationship with your boss, if you have an idea for a case strategy (or a plot twist), toss it out there in a respectful manner. If phrased right, it'll show that you care about the case, the client, and the firm.

2. Make Your Deadlines; Don't Overpromise

In most law offices, work ebbs and flows. One week, you'll be elbow-deep in deposition transcripts and last-minute trial prep. Other weeks, you'll handle a single client intake. No matter how busy it gets, you must make deadlines. If your boss needs something on Thursday, it should be done by Wednesday afternoon.

That being said, there are only so many hours in the day. If you're already digging through discovery, and your boss requests a memo on her desk by the morning, speak up! Let her know that you'll have to set aside the other projects to make the deadline.

1. Be Professional; Be Yourself

The World Cup is going on. So what? Besides the fact that soccer isn't a real sport (kidding ...?!), you probably shouldn't be watching sports, or Grey's Anatomy reruns, in the office. (Unless, of course, your boss is a soccer fan.)

Acting and dressing professionally is essential to leaving a positive impression. Professionalism doesn't mean boring, however. Show off a bit of that humor, sports knowledge, or appreciation for fine films. Law firms are looking for lawyers and people they can stand to work with for forty++ hours per week.

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