Summer Associates Survey 2010:
Chill In The Air

, The American Lawyer

Still, as was also true in 2009, this year's summers generally had to make do with less sumptuous meals and more pedestrian outings and activities--and many clerks felt shortchanged. "Snacks on the terrace should have booze," wrote a Kirkland & Ellis clerk, adding that, in his view, the firm had cut back on the summer events too much. "Lunch budget and no dinners sucks." And few associates wanted to be reminded about how good things used to be. "One of the most aggravating things about the summer program was. . . hearing about how awesome the firm's summer program was in the go-go days," wrote a Ropes & Gray intern.

Because of this year's condensed summer program schedules, many clerks complained that they didn't get enough of a chance to show off their abilities, or get a feel for the type of law they'd like to practice. "Two months is not enough time both to show the quality of work I am capable of and to be evaluated," wrote one summer clerk from Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff in Indianapolis.

"I would love the program to be longer," agreed an intern from DLA Piper U.S., "as it seems like, just as we get settled in, the summer is almost over. However, I understand the financial aspects at play."

Given the stakes, a number of associates expressed the belief that their firms should have set explicit guidelines for how much time they should be putting in. "Be clearer at the beginning of the summer about expectations (How many projects should we complete? How many hours a day should we actually "bill" vs. be at work?)," suggested an intern who spent the summer at Hogan Lovells.

"Don't answer 'it depends' to questions concerning the appropriate number of assignments," wrote a Morrison & Foerster clerk, adding that "more than any other year" this is "one of the things we are worried about."

Above all, most summer clerks seemed to want much more transparency about the offer process--and far greater certainty about their futures. "Don't tell us publicly to ask the tough questions when doing so is not appropriate," wrote a summer clerk from Willkie Farr & Gallagher, who listed those tough questions as "Will we all get jobs?," "How is the firm doing financially?," and "What about those deferrals?"


Illustration by James Steinberg