Taking classes as a Summer Associate

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Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:23 pm

Does anyone have experience taking an online class while summering at a firm? My school is offering a three-credit online course, and I'm wondering if it's doable. Any advice is appreciated.

cavalier1138

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:49 pm

I wouldn't.

I'm sure it's possible to fit that class in your schedule, but think of your summer as a very extended interview. I can't think of any class that would be worth jeopardizing my career for.

QContinuum

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby QContinuum » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:41 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:I wouldn't.

I'm sure it's possible to fit that class in your schedule, but think of your summer as a very extended interview. I can't think of any class that would be worth jeopardizing my career for.

I agree with cavalier. One of the most important things to demonstrate as a summer is your commitment to the job - your willingness to be there morning, afternoon or evening (or even during the weekends should that be necessary). Routinely being unavailable sends a very bad message about your commitment.

Don't take the class.

Tenzen

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby Tenzen » Sun Mar 10, 2019 1:55 pm

Echoing the consistent opinion that you should not take a class as a summer associate.

For most students and attorneys the biglaw boat comes once, if at all, and falling off of it for the sake of a single class is silly.

Npret

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby Npret » Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:18 pm

Start looking at yourself as a professional lawyer and not as a law student.

janereacher

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby janereacher » Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:39 pm

Interesting. These replies are not consistent with what I've heard from associates about their summer associate experience. I've heard that there is very little actual work. So, if you're not particularly stressed during the day, I don't see how a 3 credit online class that you can work in the evenings and on weekends is such a big deal.

ghostoftraynor

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby ghostoftraynor » Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:52 pm

It's very likely would have plenty of time to handle the coursework. However, why take any chances with this when the only conceivable benefit is a marginally easier 3L?

cavalier1138

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:57 pm

janereacher wrote:Interesting. These replies are not consistent with what I've heard from associates about their summer associate experience. I've heard that there is very little actual work. So, if you're not particularly stressed during the day, I don't see how a 3 credit online class that you can work in the evenings and on weekends is such a big deal.


No one is claiming that summers have a lot of difficult work to do. But you need to do well with the work you get, and you need to show up for a lot of extra shit outside of normal work hours.

Again, it may be totally doable in terms of pure time and scheduling. But what class would be worth cutting into your ability to show up for two months that determine your career with that firm?

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby Saltnpeppa1 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:03 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
janereacher wrote:Interesting. These replies are not consistent with what I've heard from associates about their summer associate experience. I've heard that there is very little actual work. So, if you're not particularly stressed during the day, I don't see how a 3 credit online class that you can work in the evenings and on weekends is such a big deal.


No one is claiming that summers have a lot of difficult work to do. But you need to do well with the work you get, and you need to show up for a lot of extra shit outside of normal work hours.

Again, it may be totally doable in terms of pure time and scheduling. But what class would be worth cutting into your ability to show up for two months that determine your career with that firm?


To add on this, just because you don't have a ton of difficult work to do doesn't mean you won't be busy. During my summer, I worked for about half the day and then, for the other half, was walking around meeting/talking to people or going to firm-sponsored events, workshops, etc.

Also, you would most likely be perceived in a bad light if lawyers at the firm learned that you were taking a class during your summer.

Npret

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby Npret » Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:29 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
janereacher wrote:Interesting. These replies are not consistent with what I've heard from associates about their summer associate experience. I've heard that there is very little actual work. So, if you're not particularly stressed during the day, I don't see how a 3 credit online class that you can work in the evenings and on weekends is such a big deal.


No one is claiming that summers have a lot of difficult work to do. But you need to do well with the work you get, and you need to show up for a lot of extra shit outside of normal work hours.

Again, it may be totally doable in terms of pure time and scheduling. But what class would be worth cutting into your ability to show up for two months that determine your career with that firm?

This.

You need to do the work you have well. Take your time and proofread everything carefully. Be super organized. Do your best work on every assignment. Remember this is a nicely paid but crucial job interview. You don’t have a job yet.

QContinuum

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby QContinuum » Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:44 pm

janereacher wrote:Interesting. These replies are not consistent with what I've heard from associates about their summer associate experience. I've heard that there is very little actual work. So, if you're not particularly stressed during the day, I don't see how a 3 credit online class that you can work in the evenings and on weekends is such a big deal.

It's precisely because there is "very little actual work" that it becomes so critical that you demonstrate your commitment to the job - your willingness to be there morning, afternoon or evening (or even during the weekends should that be necessary). Your commitment - simply being there - is basically the one thing you can demonstrate. It's very possible that you sit around twiddling your fingers for a plurality or even majority of the time you're in the office, and so arguably you'd add the same (lack of) value if you weren't in the office at all. Just as you might get brought along to silently observe client meetings or court hearings, and you'd arguably add the same (lack of) value if you didn't observe. But that's not the point. The point is that you need to show your willingness to sit there and be "on call" as needed.

Also, post-2008, firms are increasingly moving toward giving summers more actual work. Summers like it and, even if the work they do isn't very high-level (e.g., even if a paralegal could otherwise do it), anything they do still saves someone else time (e.g., the paralegal could instead spend their time working on another project).

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby janereacher » Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:24 pm

I can't say that I've been persuaded. I could see it if it was a traditional in-classroom course, but online? Anyone who decides to work and go to school simultaneously (I've done full-time of both simultaneously) knows they are sacrificing personal/social time. So, if you're okay with spending 10 hours a week doing classwork versus 10 hours scrapbooking or socializing or what have you, I say go for it. If you can successfully do both and willingly make that sacrifice, you can probably handle biglaw life pretty well.

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby Saltnpeppa1 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:36 pm

janereacher wrote:I can't say that I've been persuaded. I could see it if it was a traditional in-classroom course, but online? Anyone who decides to work and go to school simultaneously (I've done full-time of both simultaneously) knows they are sacrificing personal/social time. So, if you're okay with spending 10 hours a week doing classwork versus 10 hours scrapbooking or socializing or what have you, I say go for it. If you can successfully do both and willingly make that sacrifice, you can probably handle biglaw life pretty well.


I don't think anyone is saying that he/she shouldn't take a class that they could be taking over the weekend/at night after work. All of the answers above assume that he/she is taking the class during work hours.

QContinuum

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby QContinuum » Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:59 pm

janereacher wrote:I can't say that I've been persuaded. I could see it if it was a traditional in-classroom course, but online? Anyone who decides to work and go to school simultaneously (I've done full-time of both simultaneously) knows they are sacrificing personal/social time. So, if you're okay with spending 10 hours a week doing classwork versus 10 hours scrapbooking or socializing or what have you, I say go for it. If you can successfully do both and willingly make that sacrifice, you can probably handle biglaw life pretty well.

As has been noted ITT, a summer associate gig isn't "work." It's a 2-month-long job interview. A lavishly paid, luxurious job interview with (generally) terrific odds of landing an offer, but still a job interview.

If the class is going to require (either due to scheduling or due to sheer amount of work) OP to consistently cut out of work every weeknight at 6 PM or even 7 PM, then it's likely to be a problem. If the class is very light and OP won't invoke the class as a reason for not participating in firm events or for being unavailable on nights/weekends, then it might work (but even then I really don't seen the upside to doing it, unless not doing the class means OP won't graduate on time).

nixy

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby nixy » Sun Mar 10, 2019 6:14 pm

Wouldn’t taking the summer course also cost money on top of what you’d spend during the year? Student loans for a semester aren’t really determined by the number of classes you take, but adding a class during the summer will require an additional loan.

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 6:29 pm

janereacher wrote:I can't say that I've been persuaded. I could see it if it was a traditional in-classroom course, but online? Anyone who decides to work and go to school simultaneously (I've done full-time of both simultaneously) knows they are sacrificing personal/social time. So, if you're okay with spending 10 hours a week doing classwork versus 10 hours scrapbooking or socializing or what have you, I say go for it. If you can successfully do both and willingly make that sacrifice, you can probably handle biglaw life pretty well.


Again, no one has ever claimed that it's not feasible. But what is the tradeoff here?

As was mentioned earlier in the thread, the only possible benefit from taking this class is a marginally easier 3L year. And the potential tradeoff is saying "No, I can't attend the karaoke party; I have to study for this class I voluntarily enrolled in." Sounds dumb, but not attending the social event could be held against the unreasonably dedicated student. Why take that risk at all if there's no benefit?

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby Npret » Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:21 pm

Saltnpeppa1 wrote:
janereacher wrote:I can't say that I've been persuaded. I could see it if it was a traditional in-classroom course, but online? Anyone who decides to work and go to school simultaneously (I've done full-time of both simultaneously) knows they are sacrificing personal/social time. So, if you're okay with spending 10 hours a week doing classwork versus 10 hours scrapbooking or socializing or what have you, I say go for it. If you can successfully do both and willingly make that sacrifice, you can probably handle biglaw life pretty well.


I don't think anyone is saying that he/she shouldn't take a class that they could be taking over the weekend/at night after work. All of the answers above assume that he/she is taking the class during work hours.

No. I read that OP is doing the class online.
My point is 100% of OPs focus for the summer should be on getting a job.
I can picture people talking if OP is slow, late, or mediocre with an assignment. Or if OP had to decline an event. (Don’t decline events.) Someone will say “oh you know they are taking a class online this summer too.” People will be puzzled. You don’t want to be that person OP.
Last edited by Npret on Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby QContinuum » Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:23 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
janereacher wrote:I can't say that I've been persuaded. I could see it if it was a traditional in-classroom course, but online? Anyone who decides to work and go to school simultaneously (I've done full-time of both simultaneously) knows they are sacrificing personal/social time. So, if you're okay with spending 10 hours a week doing classwork versus 10 hours scrapbooking or socializing or what have you, I say go for it. If you can successfully do both and willingly make that sacrifice, you can probably handle biglaw life pretty well.


Again, no one has ever claimed that it's not feasible. But what is the tradeoff here?

As was mentioned earlier in the thread, the only possible benefit from taking this class is a marginally easier 3L year. And the potential tradeoff is saying "No, I can't attend the karaoke party; I have to study for this class I voluntarily enrolled in." Sounds dumb, but not attending the social event could be held against the unreasonably dedicated student. Why take that risk at all if there's no benefit?

Or even worse, just as a deal is heating up or the litigation team is making final preparations for trial, "hey team, good luck. It's 7 PM, I gotta head out to study for my summer class." That could really rub already stressed-out associates/partners the wrong way. Again, yes, it's true that losing a summer wouldn't really have a negative substantive impact on the deal/trial team, but it's a matter of coming off really badly. It comes across as the summer lacking commitment to the firm and to their coworkers and mentors.

Jane cites "10 hours scrapbooking or socializing or what have you." Presumably there would be no difficulty canceling/postponing the scrapbooking or social plans. This may not be the case for class requirements. OP shouldn't risk having to choose between missing a class deadline or ditching work.

Npret

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby Npret » Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:22 pm

Not to scare summers more than they usually are scared when they start, but remember your reputation at the firm starts with the summer. Everyone you work with will hear something about you from other people who have worked with you or attended events with you.

Even if it’s just a few words, people will know something about you. You have to put yourself in the position to do your best work.

As you’ve presumably never been a summer associate before, you have to learn a new firm, new people and even how to do the work. Put your effort into doing your best with every aspect of this job.

That reputation will carry over into your 1st year. It’s difficult to overcome an even mediocre reputation.

I wouldn’t want to be investing time in a class when I could be working on my career. It’s pointless.

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby lavarman84 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:55 pm

janereacher wrote:I can't say that I've been persuaded. I could see it if it was a traditional in-classroom course, but online? Anyone who decides to work and go to school simultaneously (I've done full-time of both simultaneously) knows they are sacrificing personal/social time. So, if you're okay with spending 10 hours a week doing classwork versus 10 hours scrapbooking or socializing or what have you, I say go for it. If you can successfully do both and willingly make that sacrifice, you can probably handle biglaw life pretty well.


Listen to what people are saying. You haven't been a SA. We have been. First of all, you can't say with 100% certainty that your summer will be a walk in the park. Some firms make you work. And sometimes, you work with a partner who treats you like a legitimate associate. I worked for a pretty chill firm, but I spent a few weeks working on a project with a partner who treated me like an actual associate. I ended up billing 40+ hours per week during those weeks to keep up with the work I was given.

However, even if you are lucky enough to have a laid back summer, you still have to attend a lot of firm events. You also have to show up and put in the face time. Accordingly, you don't know when you'll be at home. You may work from 9 to 5 and then go out after work with associates and partners until after midnight. And you don't want to get a reputation as the person who doesn't show up to events or socialize. So when are you going to get the online class done? Doing it in the office is a terrible idea. If you are unlucky enough to have a partner stop in while you're watching lectures, there's a chance they won't be happy about you doing that when you're supposed to be working.

You might think that you can work on the weekends. But many firms have social events on the weekends too. You're expected to be there. You're a SA. Your job is to show your commitment, be enthusiastic, and be likable/social.

Simply put, it's a terrible idea. There's very little reward and a whole lot of risk. If things don't go as planned, you have to decide between your grade in that class and your job at the firm.(and the firm job is the obvious answer there) It's not about sacrificing personal time. It's about the unpredictable schedule you have when you're a SA.

But hey, this is the internet. I would be a fool if I thought that every person could be talked out of their bad ideas by receiving feedback from people speaking from actual experience. Some people are simply looking for confirmation and are intent to move forward whether or not they get it.

alawyer2018

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby alawyer2018 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:56 am

I generally agree with the sentiment that you should not take an online summer course while you're an SA. However, if the online course allows for a lot of flexibility for when you actually do the work for the course and listen to course lectures (i.e., you could do all of the work for the course at your leisure, mostly on the weekends) then it's certainly possible to take the course and still be a successful SA. As others have mentioned, being an SA isn't just about the amount of work that the firm gives you. You will be expected to attend an array of social events, some of which might be impromptu or last minute. By the end of the summer, you will actually feel pretty exhausted, so take an online course at your own peril and understand that any work or firm events will always need to take priority over the online course.

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mtf612

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby mtf612 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:25 am

Now I feel worried since everyone is saying OP won't have an hour of free time per day.

Do people have time to hit the gym during their SA? If I don't workout four times a week I start getting cranky.

Npret

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby Npret » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:33 am

mtf612 wrote:Now I feel worried since everyone is saying OP won't have an hour of free time per day.

Do people have time to hit the gym during their SA? If I don't workout four times a week I start getting cranky.


No one said that OP won’t have an hour of free time to exercise. Going to the gym is flexible and can be scheduled anytime. OPs classwork presumably has due dates and requirements.

Are we not speaking plainly enough?

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby janereacher » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:48 am

mtf612 wrote:Now I feel worried since everyone is saying OP won't have an hour of free time per day.

Do people have time to hit the gym during their SA? If I don't workout four times a week I start getting cranky.


Seriously, I have a hard time conceptualizing a SA gig as a 112 hour a week commitment. I might feel differently after this summer, but I doubt it. I promise to check back in at the end of the summer :D

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Re: Taking classes as a Summer Associate

Postby Npret » Mon Mar 11, 2019 12:19 pm

janereacher wrote:
mtf612 wrote:Now I feel worried since everyone is saying OP won't have an hour of free time per day.

Do people have time to hit the gym during their SA? If I don't workout four times a week I start getting cranky.


Seriously, I have a hard time conceptualizing a SA gig as a 112 hour a week commitment. I might feel differently after this summer, but I doubt it. I promise to check back in at the end of the summer :D

You’ve missed the entire point.
It’s foolish to take a class assuming it will work with an unknown schedule. If you want to get up at 5 every morning to do your class work before your job, go ahead.
You’re making your summer unnecessarily harder and nothing about this class is going to help you get a job.

Are you so confident your work will be good? That you will know what you are doing? That no partner will take a dislike to you? That your classwork will absolutely not interfere with any aspect of your summer job?

It’s not a great sign that you are not comprehending or accepting advice from experienced people wanting to help you. Don’t do that this summer.



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