Career Center

Your summer associateship should be unfit for television (reality TV or otherwise).

What you do during your summer clerkship should not be viewed as a potential plot line in a TV series — or your future at the firm will last as long as The Deep End. From your fashion prowess to your social interactions, you should really be remembered for your work ethic and social competence. When you are being considered for a permanent position at summer’s end, you don’t want to be known as “Jäger Boy” or “Cleavage Girl.”

It only takes one momentary lapse in judgment to derail your future at the firm. Read these tips, brought to you by Frank Kimball of Lateral Link, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner.…

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Party responsibly, summer associates.

Summer associates are inundated by invitations to lunches, dinners, in-firm programs, and social activities outside the firm. Particularly in a summer when the economic outlook is still a bit uncertain, summer associates must act with care and discretion at firm-sponsored social events.

Almost invariably misconduct involves excessive late-night drinking. Someone once said “nothing good happens after midnight.” They were right. The following tips, brought to you by Frank Kimball of Lateral Link, will help you navigate the social scene this summer.…

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If Oprah had a book club for summer associates, you can bet the following reading materials would be on that list (in addition to Above the Law). While I am sure extra reading is the last thing you want to do after long days (and nights) of working and schmoozing at the firm, the items identified below provide great insight into subjects a savvy summer associate should be on top of.

For extra credit, consider forming a summer book club with your classmates and/or fellow summer associates, read some of the material suggested below, and take some time to discuss. The following reading recommendations are brought to you by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner.

Now on to the reading….

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A split can be delicious -- or dangerous....

Today’s Career Center tips for summer associates focus on how you can successfully split your summer between firms. Obtaining a summer clerkship at one firm is great, so splitting the summer with another firm is even better, right? Not necessarily.

In some cities, such as Dallas and Houston, the split summer has been a fact of life for decades, and summer associates often divide the summer into two, three, or more parts. But even in markets where split summers are the rule rather than the exception, a summer associate must take each firm seriously. Like speed dating, you are going to have to bring your “A-game” the entire time you are with each firm if you hope to land a “long-term relationship” with either firm.

On the one hand, you are going to have to make the firm you are currently summering at feel special — like they are the only firm that matters. On the other hand, both you and the firm know that you are “seeing other firms” and are not quite ready to make your employment status official on Facebook.

Let’s consider the risks here — and how to manage and minimize them, if you’re a summer associate who’s doing a split.

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The Career Center is featuring a special series this summer for law students who want to excel as summer associates and ultimately secure permanent offers. Starting today and continuing throughout the summer, we will feature tips to help you manage your assignments, juggle conflicting demands, account for your time, handle feedback and criticism, and much more. These tips, focused on helping you navigate your law firm and summer associate internship, are provided by Frank Kimball, a principal of the Kimball Partner Group – a Lateral Link company, and an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner.

Today’s tips focus on how to maintain an attitude that will help you win over the partners at your firm and put you on the fast track to success. While not known for offering useful legal guidance, Elle Woods from Legally Blonde: The Musical offers great advice to summer associates: “Be positive.” You have already passed the first test, by initially securing the summer associate clerkship. Now you need to show off your dazzling personality — or at least demonstrate that you are at least tolerable during late-night doc review projects that await your future.

Keep the following tips in mind, whether you are working on a legal memo or hanging out at a partner’s summer house in the Hamptons….

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Welcome, summer associates!

Summer is almost here, which means summer associates will begin working at major law firms around the world. Will you be summering at one of the law firms profiled below? If you are a Biglaw summer associate and want to know what firm associates really think about the firm you are clerking at, check out the Career Center for great insight on all the leading firms.

  • Formal training and mentoring are big at this firm, but some associates still feel ill-prepared to handle the actual work they are assigned. As one of the first U.S.-based firms to expand internationally, it can be “sink or swim,” according to Lateral Link members, and there is virtually no chance at becoming partner here. Still, the firm is considered a market leader with respect to family leave and has one of the highest average percentages of new female partners.
  • Associates at this top-tier firm, known for its intellectual property practice, enjoy the collaborative work environment as well as the manageable work hours. It is a free-market system when it comes to work assignments, but associates in the firm’s satellite offices warn that work may be hard to come by relative to the associates in the main office. With a five- to six-year partnership track and a minimum billable requirement of 1,750, becoming partner is a realistic goal for most associates here.

More profiles, after the jump.

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Some firms handled the great recession with grace and poise, while others need lots of improvement if they ever want to receive a Miss Congeniality award in the near future. Check out the blurbs below, as well as the firm profiles at the Career Center, to see which firms are pageant contenders and which firms are just pigs with a little lipstick on.

  • This firm is known for its prestigious bankruptcy practice and has handled several newsworthy bankruptcies during the economic crisis. Associates here receive lots of quality work and direct client contact; however, Lateral Link Members warn that some clients have unrealistic demands on associate availability and deadlines. On the plus side, since associates are pretty self-sufficient with getting their own work, the firm is not very strict about minimum billable hours.
  • While some Lateral Link Members describe the compensation model at this firm as “laughably low in comparison to other firms,” face time expectation at the firm is minimal, and associates say there is “lower stress” than at other large firms. Pro bono work is also encouraged, and the firm counts the first 100 pro bono hours towards billable hours and bonus consideration. As a result of its pro bono commitment, 99% of associates firm wide participated in some form of pro bono work last year.

More profiles, after the jump.

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Not all of the players in the Biglaw scene are based in New York City. Check out the firms below that established their roots outside the Big Apple. True, total compensation at these firms is sometimes lower, and you may not earn the respect of Partner Emeritus — but the majority of associates surveyed who work at these firms seem to enjoy the lifestyle and opportunities their respective firms offer. You can view the profiles of other firms at the Career Center to see how associates rated their experiences in the past year at each firm.

  • This Boston-based firm has been around for more than 150 years and continues to grow. While the firm is typically a follower and matches market in terms of associate compensation, Lateral Link Members lament that the firm operates within a “black box,” and management is not very transparent with decisions. Still, associates appreciate the “wonderful formal training” offered, as well as the responsibility they receive.
  • Making partner at this firm, based in Seattle, is an achievable goal, according to most of the associates we surveyed. Even if you do not make partner your first go-around, there is no up-or-out policy, and the firm has a very flexible partnership policy. While associate compensation is lower relative to other Biglaw firms, the firm is one of the few law firms consistently recognized on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”.

More profiles, after the jump.

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Try and guess which firm is highlighted in the blurbs below, and click on the link for each firm to view the full profile. Want to know what the associates on the inside think about their firms? Check out the updated firm profiles at the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link.

  • While a Biglaw firm in terms of profits, prestige, and compensation, this firm should really be considered a litigation boutique. Associates here do not receive bonuses, but they don’t mind because the “base salary is higher than market.” Not only is compensation higher relative to its peers, but the firm is also one of the “best law firms to work for” according to its associates.
  • This firm has defended more securities class action lawsuits than any other U.S. law firm, and has an impressive patent prosecution and defense success rate to boot. Speaking of boots, the firm finally loosened its bootstraps in terms of compensation, and associates are now enjoying the salaries of pre-2009 levels.

More profiles, after the jump.

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Spring bonuses, salary thaws, hiring increases — 2010/2011 marked a turning point in the economy, as well as the business of Biglaw. Check out the firm profiles below to see which firms spread the new wealth around, and which firms remained cheap. And be sure to see how your firm or other firms fared in the past year by checking out the updated profiles at the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link.

  • This Texas powerhouse once represented Enron, but is still highly regarded for its energy practice. Associates praise the firm for the amount of responsibility they receive and say the firm is very respectful of their “personal time.” This firm was one of the first Texas-based firms to give its associates spring bonuses.
  • The product of a merger between a U.S. firm and a U.K. firm, this firm now totals 1,400 lawyers in 60 locations and 43 countries. After thawing its salaries in March 2010, the firm revised its salary structure so that 12-15% of associate compensation would be paid out as a “base bonus.” Despite the salary bump, associates here still experience some “uncertainty” in light of the firm’s previous layoff history during the economic downturn.

More profiles, after the jump.

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