This week, I am featuring a guest blogger who is a student in the Atlanta Networking Club, Andrew Weegar. Andrew did an amazing job of networking last year to find internships with two firms last summer. Andrew will share his insight from a student’s perspective on how to have a successful internship.
My name is Andrew Weegar, and I am a 2L who returned this semester from my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia where I spent the summer interning. Here are some of my experiences from this past summer, as well as some tips as to how to make sure you make the right impression on your employer.
The first step to having a great internship is making sure you are at the right firm. When determining what firm you should be at for your first legal market experience, think small. The smaller the firm, the more responsibilities you will likely have. Solo practitioners are great at giving law students real experience in their first year since solo practitioners do everything by themselves. For example, this summer I had two internships in Atlanta. The first internship was with a solo practitioner, the second was with a firm that had three lawyers and two paralegals. At my internship with the solo practitioner, I walked in the door on my first day and within ten minutes I was drafting a complaint. Throughout my time with the solo practitioner I wrote complaints, answers, and numerous motions to courts in Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California. In contrast, it my internship with the larger firm I did not write a single court document. I spent most of my time conducting legal research, checking their client files, and writing demand letters. While this was still good legal experience, drafting legal documents will be more meaningful on my resume.
Stay tuned for more tips…
It is easy to put off that challenging research or brief until the deadline is near. But the danger in doing so is that you might have an unexpected assignment pop up that steals your last day or two and puts you in a time crunch. The result? You either compromise your work product to complete it on time or you miss a critical deadline. Nothing will kill a promising career faster than procrastination. Be organized and commit to completing all assignments in advance. Allow for additional time in the event the assignment takes longer than expected. When asked when you can complete a task, incorporate a one day buffer for cushion. When possible, submit assignments early.
You’ve landed your dream job as a clerk or an associate at a great law firm. Now that you have secured the position, how do you succeed at the actual job? For a start, have a positive attitude. Eagerly accept new assignments and absord as much knowledge as you can. Embrace every experience and task as a learning opportunity. Ask questions that reflect your intellectual curiosity. First impressions are incredibly important, so give an extra 10%! In upcoming blogs, I will share four more tips for how to be a successful associate or clerk so you can not only land the legal job of your dreams, but have the legal career of your dreams, as well.
In this age of texts and tweets, it may be tempting to use informal slang or abbreviations in emails. However, email in the legal arena is still a formal means of communication and as such, should reflect proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Always include a subject, a saluation to the person you are addressing, and a closing remark thanking them as appropriate. Remember – no 1 will b ROFL if u send txt style email to prtnr/client.
Want more courtroom experience out of your internship? ASK for it.
Want more drafting skills from your clerkship? ASK for it.
Want more responsibility as a new associate? ASK for it.
Successful associates understand the importance of ASKING for more. Be proactive and let partners know when you are eager for more. Approach them in a manner that demonstrates that you are happy with your job, but that you would love some additional experience or to work on certain types of cases. Avoid asking in a way that could be viewed as a complaint or dissatisfaction. Thank them for your opportunities to date and be sure they understand that you know associate or law clerk development doesn’t happen overnight, but that you are prepared to be an even greater asset for the firm!
To succeed in a law firm environment, you must establish strong relationships, not just with partners, but with other associates and support staff, as well.
1. Support Staff: They are the lifeline of the firm that keeps everything running smoothly. They are the gatekeepers for busy partners when you need to see them. They are valuable resources for new associates who need samples of documents that partners filed in similar cases. So be extremely considerate of them, remember their birthdays and celebrate on their personal occasions, such as the birth of a child or grandchild, a wedding, or an anniversary with the firm.
2. Other Associates: I can’t tell you how many times I asked other, more experienced associates for advice when I first began practicing. They provided incredible insight not just into how various cases worked, but how the different partners worked. Each one is unique and will have a different style, and you need to tailor your work product to their individual preferences. Lean on other associates to help you in that regard since they just went through the same process. Then plan to do the same for new associates hired after you.
3. Partners: Mind your manners and always say a personal thank you for bonuses or other special occasions. Thank them for the opportunity to work on particularly great cases, and let them know how much you value what you learn from them. Attend all firm functions. Partners invest a great deal of time and money planning and paying for such events, and it is disappointing not to have good participation.