Top 10 Secrets of Success from an Associate

3 min read

This practice note outlines 10 practical tips you can use as a summer associate to help make the experience a good one for you and your firm. Take it from someone who's been there. This is an important summer for you. It may (and probably will) determine where you have (or don't have) your first job as an actual lawyer. It's an important summer for the firm, too, because the firm is investing a lot to try to determine the same thing—where you’ll have your first job as a lawyer. So, for both your sakes, you want to go into the summer with some guidance under your belt. The following tips will help you  benefit from some of the secrets of success I've discovered over the years as an associate.

1. Always maintain a positive attitude

Positivity goes a long way in making a good impression.

2. Get to know attorneys

Take the time to get to know as many attorneys at the firm as possible, from first-year associates to senior partners, through firm-wide social events, small group lunches, and work assignments.

3. Try different practice areas

The summer program is your best chance to work in various areas of law, ranging from corporate to regulatory to disputes. Not only do the practice areas focus on different substantive areas of law, but they also have different work environments and cultures.

4. Be prepared

Bring your laptop or a pen and paper to meetings and take detailed notes. If your office is business-casual, keep a suit jacket in your office at all times—you never know when a meeting may come up that requires a full suit.

5. Arrive early

Make sure you know where to go and give yourself adequate time to get there, regardless of whether you’re going offsite, to a conference room, or to another attorney’s office. Never be late to any meeting or appointment.

6. Request clarity on assignments

When you get an assignment, ask questions to ensure that you understand the task. If you become confused or need clarification while working on an assignment, reach out to the assigning attorney for further direction. If it becomes clear that you will need more time for an assignment, let the assigning attorney know as soon as possible.

7. Produce a polished work product

Make sure that your work product—including your e-mails—is grammatically correct and contains no errors or typos. Double- and triple-check your work before submitting anything.

8. Befriend your fellow summer associates

The other summer associates are in the same boat as you are and will become some of your closest friends at the firm—especially if you return as a full-time associate. They are not your competition.

9. Be respectful

The librarians, legal assistants, administrative staff, and other office personnel are great resources for learning more about office culture and can help to make your life easier. Be respectful and learn from them.

10. Ask for advice

The summer program will keep you busy with substantive assignments and social events. If you ever feel overwhelmed, talk to your attorney mentor or the summer program coordinators.


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Reproduced with permission from LexisNexis.

This publication is provided for your convenience and does not constitute legal advice. This publication is protected by copyright.