The American Lawyer just released its annual summer associate job survey. Back in the day, law students paid a lot of attention to how summers before them enjoyed their summer associate experience. Of course, back in the day the summer associate experience used to be a 12-week-long recruiting event.

Now, it’s a 12 (or 10, or 8) week job interview. And the stress of that showed up in the summer associate surveys.

But despite a difficult job market, some summers still found time to bitch about the lack of lavish recruiting lunches. And Am Law looked at all the surveys and came up with a ranking of the top summer program.

Let’s take a look at the best (and the whiniest) summer programs…

The comment of one Willkie Farr summer really sets the tone for how 2010 summers approached their internships:

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?”

It sounds a little inelegant, but those are the three things that summer associates were hoping to learn from their firms. The lunches, the wine tastings, the work assignments — all that stuff is just for show.

Well, unless you were at Kirkland & Ellis:

“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.”

What’s that sound? Oh no. It’s so loud. It’s the WHAAMBULANCE!!!

Ah, but it wasn’t all stress and whining from 2010 summers. Some of them liked where they worked. Let’s look at the top ten firms from the American Lawyer summer survey:

1. Pepper Hamilton
2. Bingham McCutchen
3. Gibson Dunn
4 (tie). Cozen O’Connor
4 (tie). Schulte Roth
6. Crowell & Moring
7 (tie). Dorsey & Whitney
7 (tie). Fox Rothschild
9. Paul Hastings
10. Dewey & LeBoeuf

That’s a nice little list. And it doesn’t look like these firms bribed summers into giving them a nice review. At Bingham McCutchen for instance, they kept it real:

At Bingham McCutchen, this year’s second-place firm, summer clerks also took their duties seriously — perhaps in part because the firm laid out the stakes up front. “We told them all this is a ten-week job interview,” says Bingham national director of legal recruiting Ari Katz, “and that a job offer wasn’t theirs to lose. They had to earn it.”

Bingham hasn’t even told summers if they have offers yet, and still the firm ranked #2 in Am Law’s survey.

That’s the new reality of summer associate programs. It’s a long and uncertain job interview now. And there are a bunch of 2Ls out there right now who would gladly sign up for their shot at a 12-week stress test in 2011.

Summer Associates Survey 2010: Chill In The Air [American Lawyer]
Less is More: Overall Rankings [American Lawyer]


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