Practical Advice from the 2023 Vault Law Associate Survey—Summer Programs

Published: Aug 23, 2023

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This is the first post in a new series where we will highlight several pieces of practical advice from the associates who took our most recent survey. In this first installment, we offer 15 quotes from associates with advice on choosing between summer programs.

1. "Make sure to select a firm that meets what you find interesting, not which one offers the most fun or the most prestige."

2. "Seriously consider the culture of the firm when making your decision."

3. "I would think beyond the summer associate program and whether you could imagine yourself working there after graduation. Don't just pick the summer program with the most perks."

4. "The people. The work will be miserable at times regardless, so surround yourself with people you want to be miserable with and who will get you through it."

5. "Stay true to yourself during the process. It was easy to say to myself that maybe I would enjoy doing M&A work just to get a BigLaw job, but I really only wanted to do litigation. So try to stay true to your area of interest."

6. "While rankings and law school chatter tend to dominate the law students' mind when choosing a firm, a lot of that falls away once you enter practice. Chose a summer program where you'll find kind people, flexibility, and fun."

7. "Focus on firms with robust training programs and a demonstrated dedication to mentoring."

8. "Focus on culture and longevity; trust your instincts."

9. "Consider the associate makeup; is the office/firm mostly of associates who had summered and started their career there? Is it largely of laterals? This will inform and impact your day-to-day culture at the firm."

10. "Prioritize how work is distributed and whether or not there is a billable hour requirement—those two things will have a bigger impact on your day-to-day life than any other."

11. "When you go to callback interviews, pay attention to the firms where attorneys don't need to look up where the next interviewer's office is."

12. "Consider whether the firm is based in the location you want (versus just a satellite office); consider also whether you'll be placed in a specific practice group after the summer."

13. "Try to ascertain associate turnover; look at how many former associates/partners were summer associates at the firm."

14. "Go to every networking event—you never know what will you be able to learn from a veteran attorney."

15. "It's easy to get caught up in the prestige game (i.e., trying to land the highest-ranking law firm) but a trickier, and more important proposition, is how you can make the summer associate program work for you and your goals as a highly unique individual. Instead of rankings, consider facets such as practice groups, location, size, clients, etc."