In this week’s Career Center Summer Associate Tips Series, Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner, discusses the importance of evaluating your summer associate offer.

Succeeding in a summer program means more than receiving an offer of employment. While receiving an offer is probably the most important objective of a summer program, you have many more responsibilities. First, you must understand the fit between you and the firm, you and a practice area, you and the city, and you and the profession. That you are able to receive an offer of employment does not validate the wisdom of your choice.

Too often the summer zips by in a fog of assignments, reviews, baseball games, dinners at partners’ homes, and cocktail parties. You are making a very important decision. The law firm is not your fiduciary, and your parents cannot make this choice for you. There is no automatic next or right step. Only you can decide about fit, temperament, tempo, and style of practice.

Will your first career choice be the right one?

At the end of the summer, the law student is likely to have a fairly enthusiastic feeling about the experience, but only a fuzzy understanding of the core issues about what is an important career decision.

Far too many lawyers stumble through their first career choices and assume that an offer from the ABC firm suggests that this is the right long-term career choice. Three years later they wonder why they made that choice, and realize that their choice of firm, practice area, and city were a mistake. You must be an active participant in shaping your career. This requires you to look outward to the firm and inward at yourself. It requires you to avoid the lemming-like behavior of many of your fellow students who chase an offer without understanding the relationship between this summer and your career.

Read more about what factors you should consider before accepting a permanent offer by clicking here for more information. Don’t forget, for additional career insights as well as profiles of individual law firms, check out the Career Center.