It’s officially summer. That means thousands of hopeful law students are beginning summer internships with law firms. If you’re one of them, live it up. You’ll be courted, wined & dined, and taken to so many happy hours you can’t stand to look at alcohol. Heck, you might even gain 50 pounds, like I did.
But will you get an offer to join the law firm? I don’t know, but I do have some thoughts to share.
Don’t believe the firm – Even if everyone got offers last year and they have space for all of your class, don’t believe them. That’s not a binding contract, and they’re in business to make money. There’s still a standard to meet, or else you won’t be asked to return.
Ask questions – You shouldn’t blindly trust the firm, but you should still ask questions. What does “firm wide offer” really mean? How is the decision physically made? Who gets to vote? Be tactful and polite, but ask lots of questions.
Don’t be “that guy” – Every firm has stories of “that guy” who did this crazy thing, or “that girl” who did something stupid. You definitely have to stay above that standard. So don’t be crazy or stupid.
Firm-wide offers are nuts – Many firms give offers solely based upon each individual practice group. It’s pretty clear that you need to impress the real estate section to get an offer from them. But what if your firm does firm-wide offers? The best advice here is to ask your firm how it makes the offer decisions. Some firms have summer associates rank the sections they’d like to work in. The section members also rank the summer associates. If your rankings match, you’re likely to get an offer. But if your top section hated you, say good-bye!
Work long hours – Your firm will likely tell you that hours don’t matter during the summer. They’re lying. You need to get a good number of projects done, and you need to put in face time over the summer. They’ll see your billable hours, and they’ll know if you’re leaving everyday at 4:30. You’re expected to socialize, but you also have to work.
Drink – The best way to get an offer is to be the guy the attorneys want to hang out with. All the summer associates can do decent work. But are you fun to be around? Can you hold your beer / liquor / wine? You don’t have to get drunk, and you don’t have to drink, but you need to be sociable.
Talk sports – You need something to talk about during all these silly social functions. I mistakenly thought that meant to stay up on current events. Wrong! Read the sports section, watch SportsCenter (is that what’s called?), and keep tabs on ESPN.com. This is your ticket to being cool and part of the in-crowd.
Sell your soul – If you really want to ensure your offer, make a deal with the Devil. He’ll gladly pay you $150,000 per year, give you great benefits, and put a prestigious name on your resume. In return, you’ll just have to give him 2300 billable hours for the rest of your life.
Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here, but then maybe not. I’m sure many Big Law associates will say they’ve got a great life. But I’m equally certain that many solos would say they’re glad they left The Firm.
Your life is up to you. I just call it like I see it.
[tags]law firm, summer associate[/tags]
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