How to be the Best Summer Associate Ever: 4 Tips

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on July 08, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Ah, the good old days of being a summer associate. One was wined and dined at some of the best restaurants, attended shows and sporting events, and didn't have to work late. And unless you really goofed up, you were pretty much guaranteed an offer.

Today, with the job market the way it is, you want to, no need to, stand out from the rest of the summers to make sure you get that elusive post-graduation job offer. So read on, because here are four tips on how you can be the best summer associate ever.

1. Be Prepared (Makes You Efficient)

You can’t argue with the Boy Scouts on this one — you must always be prepared. If a senior associate or partner calls you into his/her office, you can be sure that it’s not to chit chat, time is money in the firm world. They are calling you in to give you an assignment or feedback so always have a pen and pad, your tablet, or any other note-taking device with you. When they start rattling off about a code or case they want you to research, you’ll want to remember all the details. You don’t want to go back and ask them about something they already told you. They hate that. See above, time is money.

2. Ask Questions (Makes You Proactive)

There are no stupid questions. Remember this old quote — assuming makes an ass out of you and me. Hmmm, any other question clichés you learned in law school? Please apply them here.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you need clarity on something then ask for it. You’ll provide better work product if you completely understand your objectives. It’s better to ask, than have to do the assignment over again because you got something wrong. Once more around this block: time is money.

3. Prioritize (Again With the Efficiency)

Between fancy lunches and baseball games, you’ll be expected to handle a few assignments at once. It’s really important to know the deadlines of your assignments and to prioritize them in order of importance. However, prioritizing is not something that you should be deciding, it’s something you should be asking about.

When you get an assignment, let the partner or senior associate know what other tasks your working on and ask them what they need first. That way, they know what else you have on your plate and they know when they can expect things. It also shows that you are forward thinking and are trying to be as efficient as possible. That’s an asset when, say it with us, time is money.

4. Dress for the Job You Want (Makes you Appear Mature)

Corporate dress codes are getting more and more lax (especially during the summer), but that doesn’t mean you should look like you’re headed to the beach. Please, always look professional, not too casual and not too flashy.

Here’s our favorite nugget of fashion advice: Always keep a conservative business suit at the office — you never know when you’ll be invited to sit-in on a client meeting, a deposition, or a court appearance. It’s all part of the learning experience, and you want to make the most of it.

Remember, being a summer associate is not all fun and games, it’s about getting that job offer. The combination of initiative, efficiency and maturity that these tips focus on will make you stand out. Follow these tips and the offer just might follow!

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