The Quest for the Golden Ring – Advice for Summer Law Clerks, Part 2 of 2
Guest post by Jay Price
This is a continuation of my earlier blog with advice for incoming summer clerk classes. Start dates are around the corner. A handful of additional tips:
- Don’t Complain. You can’t always pick every project or partner you work for. Take advantage of opportunities to learn about all practice areas and don’t complain about or turn down projects outside your sweet spot. Firms may want to see what you do with a certain type of project (e.g., a rush project) or may want you to work for certain partners outside your desired practice area. There are key partners in some firms that require every clerk to complete at least one project for their practice group before supporting them for an offer.
- Learn About Practice Groups. If you aren’t getting access to a particular practice group, ask for assignments or simply knock on a door and ask an attorney to lunch to talk about their practice. Take the initiative to seek out information and show interest.
- Stay in Control. There’s always parties, meet and greets, etc. with open bars. Simply know your limits. For some, there’s a fine line between being in control and being a train wreck. I’ve heard stories of clerks insulting attorneys, insulting spouses, dancing on tables, disrobing and jumping into rivers, getting into fights or otherwise making fools of themselves under the influence. Whether something is funny the next morning or a serious issue is all in the eye of the beholder. Hint: You are not the beholder. Be an adult and know you will be held accountable for your behavior.
- Quality over Quantity. If your firm loads you up with work, show you are willing to work hard, but remember quality is of the utmost importance. I’d rather a summer complete 12 attorney-quality projects than brag about finishing 60 projects of poor quality. Also proofread your work carefully. Details matter.
- Be an Associate. Simply act like an attorney and less like a summer clerk. This is a job try-out, not summer camp. The best partner compliment is “I could put her in front of clients tomorrow and have confidence in how she would present herself and represent this firm.” Much better than “She just seems immature. The work product was okay, but I just don’t think she has the confidence or motivation required to work with my team or clients.”
Summer clerking is not rocket science, but it is the real world. You are participating in an 8-10 week job interview. Don’t lose site of the end game – to gain employment as an ATTORNEY (not as a professional summer clerk). You have to act the part to get the part.
Joel (“Jay”) A. Price, Jr. is a partner at Burr & Forman LLP, a full service law firm with offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee. Jay has served terms as Associate Chair, Recruiting Committee Member, Hiring Partner and as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. Jay earned a B.A. in Economics and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University. You can follow Jay on Twitter @jprice_burr.