Legal Law

What Summer time Associates Are Saying About The 2021 Program

With exam grades trickling out, it’s about time for law students to start heading into the office for the summer. Well, maybe not the office in these still slightly dicey pandemic times, but they’ll be heading into work in any event. But how are summer associates feeling about this — hopefully — final hybrid summer? Where do they see themselves going and how do they see COVID changing the course of their careers?

Law360 Pulse just released the results of its Summer Associate Survey and its a gold mine of information about the summer associate experience. Here are some highlights from the report.

If you could choose to do your summer associateship program at any law firm, which would be your top three firms?

1 Latham
2 Kirkland
3 Skadden
4 Gibson Dunn
5 Cooley

Of the five firms most mentioned in associate “top 3” lists, Latham and Kirkland end up on top as young lawyers chase the money at these highly profitable firms. But check out California-based Gibson Dunn and Cooley LLP showing up as desirable locations. Looks like it does matter to be the first mover on bonuses. Check out the whole list of over 50 at the Pulse.

While we’re at it, which law schools did the best in the recruiting process, evaluated by average interviews landed?


Stanford had a very small sample size of 10 respondents compared to NYU’s 47, so take their top result with the appropriate grain of salt, but the Palo Alto school reported an average of 20.2 interviews landed. I can’t imagine having the stamina to tell the same anecdotes that many times.

The report also excerpts some feedback from law students about why they chose the firms they chose:

Mandated a personality test, which showed serious attention to culture fit.

That actually sounds like a cult, but to each their own. Firm culture was a key factor for a lot of law students according to the survey, with 72 percent identifying it as either a 4 or 5 out of 5 on a scale of most important factors to consider. Only practice areas, geography, and firm reputation performed better. Geography makes sense — you have to go where you want to practice — but the other factors seem overblown. Firm reputation matters at a certain point, but given the easily identifiable tiers out there it shouldn’t be as big of a concern. And practice areas? Are you really worried that a top firm at your OCI just doesn’t offer “general litigation”?


At this point in your law school career, what practice area do you see yourself going into?

Corporate 16%
General Litigation 13%

That’s 29 percent of students seeing themselves going into incredibly up the gut practices that every firm has. When you add in the numbers for stuff like M&A and Bankruptcy that every full-service firm already boasts, most students are looking for practice areas everyone has. So why is that a bigger factor in choosing a firm? At least at this stage of one’s career.

The most stunning revelations of the survey involve the impact of COVID on the process:

Imagine “not getting a job offer” being number 2! Over half of respondents were most worried about remote working. It’s this fear of missing out on solid mentorship that must be fueling this stat too:

I did not see that one coming. People seem ready for human interaction again. Too bad the full-time attorneys they’re looking to work with are trying to stay remote as long as possible themselves. But it’s true: as firms begin the transition to a future leveraging the remote work infrastructure they’ve built over the last year, there will have to be changes to the training model.

And how those changes pan out will become something we’ll track in summer associate surveys long after the pandemic ends.

HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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