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Law students are finishing up their finals and gearing up for their summer jobs. But is your firm ready for your summer associates?
What are you going to do when they show up on their first day? After introducing them around the office, what are they going to work on?
A few simple considerations will ensure that your law firm benefits from the summer associates you've hired, and vice-versa. Here are three tips to keep in mind:
1. Be Budget-Friendly.
For small firms and solo practitioners, you will need to be sure you can afford your summer associates. Should you treat associates to fun outings? What about additional overhead expenses, such as extra equipment and extra space to accommodate your summer workforce? Of course, time is money, and there are costs associated with taking the time to train your summer associates as well.
2. Be Real.
Have legal work lined up for your summer associates to tackle on Day 1, just as you would for a first-year associate. It doesn't have to be extremely time-sensitve or high-profile work, but be prepared to allow students to hit the ground running.
And don't be afraid to scare them a bit. Queue up some complex legal research and writing tasks you could use some help with, or assign them to a pro bono client's case. Of course you need to supervise, but allowing the student to handle a matter from the beginning will teach her about case management, client interviewing skills, and case preparation.
3. Be Influential.
Remember what it was like to be a law student? Most will be genuinely excited to be your summer associate because they want to learn from you and get some real-world experience.
Give advice and support, but also lead by example and be a mentor. With your client's premission ahead of time, bring your law students with you to court and to meetings. Be prepared to spend some time talking about the practice of law, but also spend time getting to know your summer associates. Who knows, you may learn a thing or two that can really help you in your practice.