Small firms look for clerks and associates who are bright, hard-working, articulate, creative, and who have good business sense. Practical experience through clinics, internships, or any other experiential learning is extremely important, especially if you plan to practice in litigation. Most small firms need associates who can hit the ground running with a small learning curve. As such, you should work to obtain a minimum of 400 hours of work experience prior to graduation. In addition, law firms seek candidates who have roots and connections in the local community. These connections make you more likely to remain with the firm long term and enable you to better relate to the firm’s attorneys, staff, and clients.