Law School

Secure the Bag: Summer Associate Bucket List

For you rising 2L and 3Ls, it’s important to recognize that you’re halfway into your summer internship. If you’re not careful, you’ll do the day-to-day work and end your time at the firm without much to show for it. We’ve discussed before the importance of a mid-summer self-eval and to not forget that internships are summer-long interviews, but on top of all of that it’s vital for you to keep a summer bucket list of professional milestones you want to hit so that you make yourself as strong of a candidate as possible when they are considering who to give offers to/you start looking for new opportunities.

But what are those milestones? What should you be working on for the rest of the summer?

One. Networking. Yes, I know, everyone always talks about networking, but it matters! Make it a point to go to at least three networking events before the summer ends. If your firm hosts anything for students or an associate encourages you to attend something–do it. Most bar associations take advantage of the summer months so you should have lots of opportunities. Commit to attending three events where you will actually work the room and make connections. You never know, it could lead to your next great opportunity.

Two. Show for your work. I.e. a writing sample. Try to get at least one assignment that will result in a writing sample. This will be so useful for you because you will be able to use a sample for your job applications that have been edited by attorneys, are related to real-world issues, and may even be about a topic in the practice area you’re interested in, which will show that you are somewhat knowledgeable and not starting from scratch, even in entry-level positions.

Three. Speak up. If you have a student license and it’s allowed in your internship, get involved in trial work or some type of litigation where you can speak on the record. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to do that already, but if you haven’t–seek that opportunity out. My 2L summer I actually participated as second-chair in a trial, which really made me stand out in my resume and showed future employers that I was capable of speaking on the record even fresh out of school. It’s not always a given that this is an option, but get creative to see what you can do. Maybe you’re not doing arraignments everyday, but you can ask to sit in/help prep depositions. Not the same thing, but you’ll get a little more litigation exposure and can add that to your skillset.

Four. Make connections. Make sure you’re building a relationship with the attorney assigned to mentor you (or find a way to work with an attorney that is more open to giving assignments). Not every supervising attorney is going to be your new bff, but take an honest assessment of the work you’re doing for them and ask yourself if they were asked today for your reference what would they say? Is there something you should improve upon? If so, make an action plan and work on it. References by attorneys that have worked with you go far. Yes, professors are great, but if you can get someone who is doing the work all the time that can speak to your work ethic, work product, and collegiality –that is better.

As always, your career is up to you. There are many obstacles and barriers we face within this profession, but you can still work on making yourself a top-grade candidate. Be strategic about the skills you gain, the connections you make, and next steps you take. Keep your professional goals in mind and keep working hard to achieve them. Summer just technically started, so you still have a lot of time to mark all of these goals off your list 🙂


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