How to not screw up a SA summer?

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Old Gregg
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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Old Gregg » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:44 pm

every year the same thread pops up and every year the same fucking answers are given and the answers are good enough. not sure what "new" shit OP is going to find from some "fresh people."

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:48 am

No offers usually come, not from failure to go above and beyond, but from screwing up. So don't take extra assignments or volunteer for the assignment that no one else wants, because the brownie points that doing either of those things might score you are hugely outweighed by the risk of overwhelming yourself and turning in inferior work product (which can sink you) or being staffed with the wrong partner (which can also sink you).

Play office politics and realize you're always being evaluated, especially at social events. Yes, the associates will gossip about you, so make sure you don't do anything gossip-worthy. Figure out what people to avoid. Avoid them.

As for work product, just stay in communication with the assigning attorney and make sure you're on the same page (there's always someone who researches the wrong thing). Other than that, proofread, meet deadlines, and use the resources they give you (have your secretary/the writing aides look it over).

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Lincoln
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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Lincoln » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:08 am

Based on my experience this summer, the main factor--and this echoes previous posts--is to be dependable. If you have to turn something in, do it on time. If you are researching an issue, make sure your memo is good enough so that they don't have to ask someone else to redo it. If you run into problems--not finding the right information, the assignment is more difficult than you and the lawyers anticipated and is taking too long, or whatever--be clear and honest in communicating with your superiors early, and ask questions if you need help. They know you're not going to win the case for them or think of a brilliant way to restructure a deal. But the limited things they ask you to do you should do well.

You are (hopefully) going to get critiqued on your work product. Take the critique to heart, and be grateful that they are taking the time to help you improve. DO NOT argue with the lawyers about your mistakes. If you show a willingness to learn, the associates may well go to bat for you with the partners. I had associates work with me on assignments only to take their name off them before telling me to give it to the partner. He now thinks I'm a genius. They just told me to pay it forward when I'm in the same situation.

If you have problems with typos or formatting mistakes, use the resources your firm provides, whether it's your administrative assistant, a proofreading department, paralegals, whatever. That's what they are there for. My admin assistant proofread every single thing that was more substantive than a two-line email.

All the other things people mentioned--being "weird," attending events--vary from firm to firm. Just do what people at the firm tell you to do (not what other SAs tell you to do). You'll probably have a "summer buddy" or associate mentor; that's who you should ask about this kind of stuff.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:00 am

Desertlaw: I'm the anon who originally asked the question: re events mattering.

All of those are very good reasons to attend, and sound like interesting things to do. Despite my asking the question, I probably will attend events if only for the career benefits. But the fact of the matter is, a job is a job and it's easy to tire of people whom you have to spend a large portion of your day around. Speaking as an ignorant 2L, I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunity to get to know people when I'm working all-nighters with them for 3-4 years. Personally, for instance, I have a fulfilling circle of friends outside of work in the market where I'm going. And part of my hope is to spend as much time as I can with them. Again, just speaking for myself -- BigLaw is a means to an end, not an end in itself. And the more I can reap the benefits of BigLaw without making it a lifestyle (as I'm sure I will have to do for much of my near future), the happier I will be.

Also, thanks to everyone for the advice. I do find some things in this thread new/useful.

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philosoraptor
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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby philosoraptor » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:20 am

Anonymous User wrote:BigLaw is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
Speaking as a marginally less ignorant 3L, I don't think this is a great attitude to start an SA with. Partners will pick up on it real quick.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:31 am

That's why I'm saying it anonymously on TLS. But noted.

- 9:00

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:21 pm

1. What sort of preparation, if any, do you believe helps for the summer?

If you're in litigation, go to the westlaw/lexis cost effective research thing. I know I didn't do any legal research my 2L year and the refresher was useful. I also made sure my business casual wardrobe was all set and that i had enough pieces to mix and max stylish outfits. I also think the advice to shred off 10 lbs. is credited, you are going to get fat.

2. What are some common mistakes that people make that hurt their chances of getting a full time offer?

At a NY firm with a 100% offer rate, the cold offer went to a guy who was really obnoxious and arrogant. You are being wined and dined, but ultimately, you aren't doing the firm a favor with your presence. Bear this in mind at all times. Be personable. Be as nice to recruiting staff/ admin assistants/ the coffee guy/ 1st year associates as you are to the managing partner. Your behavior will be noticed. They aren't lucky to have you, it's the other way around. If someone sends you an email asking what you thought of the (assignment, social event, meeting, pro bono experience,) you thought it was AWESOME. OK? Don't think your constructive criticism is actually desired.

3. How difficult did you find your summer experience?

Honestly I got multiple difficult, time-consuming assignments and felt pretty stressed out about 30% of the time, both because the work was challenging and because there was deadline pressure. The rest of the time I was doing mickey mouse stuff that was easy. Just make sure you do the mickey mouse stuff perfectly. And then go have lunch and get drunk with your summer associate friends (but not too drunk, at least not until the last partner goes home :) )

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby noobishned » Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:40 pm

Fresh Prince wrote:every year the same thread pops up and every year the same fucking answers are given and the answers are good enough. not sure what "new" shit OP is going to find from some "fresh people."


The point of a forum is discussion :roll:

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Agent » Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:10 pm

Hope this post helps.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:03 pm

Agent wrote:Hope this post helps.


It does, thanks. You should start a megathread with all your compiled info.

Is there a set time when firms ask for your 2L grades, or does it vary by firm? I am uncertain of how well I'm doing this semester, and would be happier if I could give them a larger sample size including next semester's grades as well. Do they ask before summer and just get your 2L fall, or is it before/after the offer if you get one? (I know most people say this doesn't usually matter re: offers, I'm just anxious because I feel so far behind in class this semester.)

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Agent wrote:Hope this post helps.


It does, thanks. You should start a megathread with all your compiled info.

Is there a set time when firms ask for your 2L grades, or does it vary by firm? I am uncertain of how well I'm doing this semester, and would be happier if I could give them a larger sample size including next semester's grades as well. Do they ask before summer and just get your 2L fall, or is it before/after the offer if you get one? (I know most people say this doesn't usually matter re: offers, I'm just anxious because I feel so far behind in class this semester.)


This varies by firm. My firm had us sign a release so they could get the grades directly from the school. I get the sense no one ever looked at the grades but they will use the release to make sure I graduated. NYC V10.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Agent wrote:Hope this post helps.


It does, thanks. You should start a megathread with all your compiled info.

Is there a set time when firms ask for your 2L grades, or does it vary by firm? I am uncertain of how well I'm doing this semester, and would be happier if I could give them a larger sample size including next semester's grades as well. Do they ask before summer and just get your 2L fall, or is it before/after the offer if you get one? (I know most people say this doesn't usually matter re: offers, I'm just anxious because I feel so far behind in class this semester.)


This varies by firm. My firm had us sign a release so they could get the grades directly from the school. I get the sense no one ever looked at the grades but they will use the release to make sure I graduated. NYC V10.


Ah, thanks, that's interesting. So I guess we might be able to glean how much it might matter in a particular case by when/what they ask for.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby smittytron3k » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:No offers usually come, not from failure to go above and beyond, but from screwing up. So don't take extra assignments or volunteer for the assignment that no one else wants, because the brownie points that doing either of those things might score you are hugely outweighed by the risk of overwhelming yourself and turning in inferior work product (which can sink you) or being staffed with the wrong partner (which can also sink you).


I don't think this is universally good advice, and it also depends on your assignment system. In any case, though, I don't think that (a) most people who would feel comfortable volunteering for extra work are the type to screw up assignments due to spreading themselves too thin, and (b) a lot of attorneys really do appreciate young lawyers who show interest in the work, take initiative and responsibility, and are willing to put in extra hours on an interesting project. (I speak from experience here: I took on a *lot* of additional work as an SA, developed a very strong reputation, and by the middle of the summer program was getting first dibs on the best projects, got more face time with partners than the other SA's, etc.). Maybe this is just a philosophical difference, but I think that the SA summer can be a really great career development opportunity if you want it to be one, and can give you a bit of a head start when you return to the firm as an associate. Personally, I'm very glad that I didn't follow the advice in this post.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:38 pm

smittytron3k wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:No offers usually come, not from failure to go above and beyond, but from screwing up. So don't take extra assignments or volunteer for the assignment that no one else wants, because the brownie points that doing either of those things might score you are hugely outweighed by the risk of overwhelming yourself and turning in inferior work product (which can sink you) or being staffed with the wrong partner (which can also sink you).


I don't think this is universally good advice, and it also depends on your assignment system. In any case, though, I don't think that (a) most people who would feel comfortable volunteering for extra work are the type to screw up assignments due to spreading themselves too thin, and (b) a lot of attorneys really do appreciate young lawyers who show interest in the work, take initiative and responsibility, and are willing to put in extra hours on an interesting project. (I speak from experience here: I took on a *lot* of additional work as an SA, developed a very strong reputation, and by the middle of the summer program was getting first dibs on the best projects, got more face time with partners than the other SA's, etc.). Maybe this is just a philosophical difference, but I think that the SA summer can be a really great career development opportunity if you want it to be one, and can give you a bit of a head start when you return to the firm as an associate. Personally, I'm very glad that I didn't follow the advice in this post.


Interesting, but how did you balance this with not being the SA in the office well past the time every other SA has left? I thought there was consensus that that made you look bad.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:36 pm

Disclaimer: I worked at a large firm this past summer, but the firm is primarily in secondary markets where no-offers are common. I received an offer, but the other SA did not. I don't know if the firm only had one spot going into it or if the other SA messed up so badly and lost his/her spot.

Here are some observations I made that may have contributed to him/her not receiving an offer:

- The SA's bluebooking was bad. Even basic things were wrong.
- I looked at a couple of his/her assignments on the document system and noticed some typos.
- The SA would leave social events early because he/she was "tired."
- The SA did not communicate with the attorneys about deadlines. At least a couple times the attorneys asked him/her if he/she was done with something, and he/she wasn't anywhere close.
- The SA left the office around 5:30-6:00pm each day. I didn't stay that late, but I at least waited for the attorneys around me to leave. There were a couple times when I did have to stay at the office very late to finish assignments, and the other attorneys that were still there actually wrote favorable reviews saying I was a hard worker and willing to put in the hours.
- The SA was nice, but he/she took it too far and the other attorneys made comments to me that he/she was a huge suck up.
- The SA did not promptly respond to emails sent to him/her from attorneys.
- The SA struggled with public speaking.
- The SA did not get a chance to work with as many of the attorneys as I did because two attorneys monopolized his/her time.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
smittytron3k wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:No offers usually come, not from failure to go above and beyond, but from screwing up. So don't take extra assignments or volunteer for the assignment that no one else wants, because the brownie points that doing either of those things might score you are hugely outweighed by the risk of overwhelming yourself and turning in inferior work product (which can sink you) or being staffed with the wrong partner (which can also sink you).


I don't think this is universally good advice, and it also depends on your assignment system. In any case, though, I don't think that (a) most people who would feel comfortable volunteering for extra work are the type to screw up assignments due to spreading themselves too thin, and (b) a lot of attorneys really do appreciate young lawyers who show interest in the work, take initiative and responsibility, and are willing to put in extra hours on an interesting project. (I speak from experience here: I took on a *lot* of additional work as an SA, developed a very strong reputation, and by the middle of the summer program was getting first dibs on the best projects, got more face time with partners than the other SA's, etc.). Maybe this is just a philosophical difference, but I think that the SA summer can be a really great career development opportunity if you want it to be one, and can give you a bit of a head start when you return to the firm as an associate. Personally, I'm very glad that I didn't follow the advice in this post.


Interesting, but how did you balance this with not being the SA in the office well past the time every other SA has left? I thought there was consensus that that made you look bad.


Just use common sense. There's a difference between staying till 8:30 and staying till midnight, there's a difference between staying later one night and staying late every night, and you don't want to have too many "what are you still doing here" conversations (really, more than one). Saying you should never stay late because it automatically makes you look bad is like saying you should never talk in class because it makes you an obnoxious gunner. The key is just (a) to not be obnoxious about the amount of work you're doing (don't look like a gunner) and (b) don't give the impression that you're staying late just to keep your head above water (don't look incompetent).

The one thing I do agree with in the post I quoted is that it's a bad idea to bite off more than you can chew - and if you are staying way later than all the other SA's and stressing yourself out to finish your work, you are probably taking on too much work. This is particularly true if you are pushing - or still worse, blowing - deadlines. I just disagree that this means you should never volunteer for work or try to take an active role in the projects you're working on.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby IAFG » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Disclaimer: I worked at a large firm this past summer, but the firm is primarily in secondary markets where no-offers are common. I received an offer, but the other SA did not. I don't know if the firm only had one spot going into it or if the other SA messed up so badly and lost his/her spot.

Here are some observations I made that may have contributed to him/her not receiving an offer:

- The SA's bluebooking was bad. Even basic things were wrong.
- I looked at a couple of his/her assignments on the document system and noticed some typos.
- The SA would leave social events early because he/she was "tired."
- The SA did not communicate with the attorneys about deadlines. At least a couple times the attorneys asked him/her if he/she was done with something, and he/she wasn't anywhere close.
- The SA left the office around 5:30-6:00pm each day. I didn't stay that late, but I at least waited for the attorneys around me to leave. There were a couple times when I did have to stay at the office very late to finish assignments, and the other attorneys that were still there actually wrote favorable reviews saying I was a hard worker and willing to put in the hours.
- The SA was nice, but he/she took it too far and the other attorneys made comments to me that he/she was a huge suck up.
- The SA did not promptly respond to emails sent to him/her from attorneys.
- The SA struggled with public speaking.
- The SA did not get a chance to work with as many of the attorneys as I did because two attorneys monopolized his/her time.

You looked at another summer's assignments in the system?!

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:24 pm

IAFG wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Disclaimer: I worked at a large firm this past summer, but the firm is primarily in secondary markets where no-offers are common. I received an offer, but the other SA did not. I don't know if the firm only had one spot going into it or if the other SA messed up so badly and lost his/her spot.

Here are some observations I made that may have contributed to him/her not receiving an offer:

- The SA's bluebooking was bad. Even basic things were wrong.
- I looked at a couple of his/her assignments on the document system and noticed some typos.
- The SA would leave social events early because he/she was "tired."
- The SA did not communicate with the attorneys about deadlines. At least a couple times the attorneys asked him/her if he/she was done with something, and he/she wasn't anywhere close.
- The SA left the office around 5:30-6:00pm each day. I didn't stay that late, but I at least waited for the attorneys around me to leave. There were a couple times when I did have to stay at the office very late to finish assignments, and the other attorneys that were still there actually wrote favorable reviews saying I was a hard worker and willing to put in the hours.
- The SA was nice, but he/she took it too far and the other attorneys made comments to me that he/she was a huge suck up.
- The SA did not promptly respond to emails sent to him/her from attorneys.
- The SA struggled with public speaking.
- The SA did not get a chance to work with as many of the attorneys as I did because two attorneys monopolized his/her time.


You looked at another summer's assignments in the system?!


Wasn't a big deal... I had a similar assignment, and the SA was cool with me using his/hers for formatting (this wasn't your typical memo, brief, etc.--think more like a press release--and the substance was different). I'm aware that systems track who has viewed different documents. That is definitely something future SAs should be aware of though.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:38 pm

smittytron3k wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:No offers usually come, not from failure to go above and beyond, but from screwing up. So don't take extra assignments or volunteer for the assignment that no one else wants, because the brownie points that doing either of those things might score you are hugely outweighed by the risk of overwhelming yourself and turning in inferior work product (which can sink you) or being staffed with the wrong partner (which can also sink you).


I don't think this is universally good advice, and it also depends on your assignment system. In any case, though, I don't think that (a) most people who would feel comfortable volunteering for extra work are the type to screw up assignments due to spreading themselves too thin, and (b) a lot of attorneys really do appreciate young lawyers who show interest in the work, take initiative and responsibility, and are willing to put in extra hours on an interesting project. (I speak from experience here: I took on a *lot* of additional work as an SA, developed a very strong reputation, and by the middle of the summer program was getting first dibs on the best projects, got more face time with partners than the other SA's, etc.). Maybe this is just a philosophical difference, but I think that the SA summer can be a really great career development opportunity if you want it to be one, and can give you a bit of a head start when you return to the firm as an associate. Personally, I'm very glad that I didn't follow the advice in this post.


Same anon. This advice is most applicable to places where the vast majority of folks get offers. For most folks in that position, I feel the brownie points are not worth the risk of, e.g., missing a deadline, turning in inferior work product, or just being staffed with someone who you don't get along with (all scenarios can sink you).

If you know your limits and are gunning for gold stars, go right ahead. If you just want an offer and want to focus on developing a firm reputation and strong relationships later, keep your head down and volunteer for all the 50 state surveys.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Lawquacious » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:45 pm

Juggle fruit coming into the office each morning. This is a guaranteed win. One banana, one orange, and one apple. Do so at 9:15am (when you come in) singing with Scottish accent while walking by senior partner's office. Every morning.


But seriously, if it doesn't work out it may just be it wasn't a good fit for you. Not everybody is cut out for the corporate environment that biglaw entails, and it really is not in fact the end of the world. I mean there are stupid things to obviously avoid, but some of it is just luck (good or bad) and if it doesn't work out it may just be it is legitimately not a good fit, that you would have ended up hating it (or already did), and that there are better work environments for you.

That said, if you are serious about getting the offer (which economically is the prudent attitude IMO) I would try to make it work by (a) showing up on time (before partners ideally and leave after attorneys have left), (b) working hard but not being pushy, (c) carefully proofing your work, (d) being friendly and social. Not the best person to give you advice on this, but I would say these are all safe basic starting points.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:34 pm

1) Don't miss deadlines
2) Don't turn in bad work
3) Don't be too socially awkward

As long as you don't violate more than one of those rules, you'll probably be fine.

Every time you get an assignment, make sure you are clear about (1) precisely what you are researching, (2) the deadline, (3) the jurisdiction, and (4) what is expected of you--e.g. an email response or a memo. If you're given a recommended length for a memo, ask if that's single or double spaced. Failing to give the assigning attorney what he's looking for is a sure way of getting a poor evaluation. And keep in mind that your work will likely be read by members of the hiring committee, so you should be absolutely certain that your spelling, grammar, and Bluebooking is perfect. Print out everything before turning it in and read it over several times. You don't need to do amazing legal work; you merely need to show that you can follow directions and that your work isn't sloppy.

I'd also advise against getting drunk (ever) around attorneys if there's any possibility that you'll make a fool of yourself (hopefully you are familiar with how you can handle alcohol by now). Set a strict limit, such as three drinks, and stick to it. You don't want to say or do something crazy that the attorneys will gossip about; word gets around fast.

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Re: How to not screw up a SA summer?

Postby Agent » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:41 am

Anonymous User wrote:1) Don't miss deadlines
2) Don't turn in bad work
3) Don't be too socially awkward

As long as you don't violate more than one of those rules, you'll probably be fine.

Every time you get an assignment, make sure you are clear about (1) precisely what you are researching, (2) the deadline, (3) the jurisdiction, and (4) what is expected of you--e.g. an email response or a memo. If you're given a recommended length for a memo, ask if that's single or double spaced. Failing to give the assigning attorney what he's looking for is a sure way of getting a poor evaluation. And keep in mind that your work will likely be read by members of the hiring committee, so you should be absolutely certain that your spelling, grammar, and Bluebooking is perfect. Print out everything before turning it in and read it over several times. You don't need to do amazing legal work; you merely need to show that you can follow directions and that your work isn't sloppy.

I'd also advise against getting drunk (ever) around attorneys if there's any possibility that you'll make a fool of yourself (hopefully you are familiar with how you can handle alcohol by now). Set a strict limit, such as three drinks, and stick to it. You don't want to say or do something crazy that the attorneys will gossip about; word gets around fast.


Probably the best how-to-get-an-offer advice I've seen on TLS.




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