This is the "Before Your First Day" page of the "Summer Interns and Associates Guide" guide.
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Summer Interns and Associates Guide  

Last Updated: Aug 22, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Before Your First Day Print Page

Getting to Know Your Employer

It is important to have background information and context about your employer before you start your summer position.  You will be surprised how much this will benefit you as a summer associate, not only from a networking perspective, but in assisting with research and assignments.

1.  Does your employer have a website?  If so, review the profiles of each of the attorneys.  Make a mental note of their practice areas.   If pictures are available, review those.  You never know when someone will approach you about a research assignment.  Make sure you know their name!  Also, you may receive an assignment that touches on an area of law that an another attorney might be able to offer their expertise on.  Being aware of what each attorney specializes in is always helpful.

2.  What are the firm's practice areas?  Hopefully you have a sense of the of type or types of law that your firm focuses on, either from the interview process or from the firm's website.  Take the time to review a secondary source in those key areas before you report for work, as a refresher.  For example, if your firm focuses on Labor & Employment Law, you will want to be up-to-speed on the major legal issues in that field.  Just being aware of important terms of art or acronyms is a plus.  Also, it doesn't hurt to keep up your current awareness of legal news in those fields.  Bloomberg Law provides news articles in many of the major practice areas, and you may want to consults blogs and other web sources, as well. 

3.  What are the firm's major clients?  While you may not be working directly with clients as a summer associate, it is helpful to know if the firm has a group of key clients.  Knowing who those clients are and giving some thought to their unique legal issues will help give context to your research.  If this information is not readily available, don't be afraid to ask. 


Questions to Ask on Your First Day

Some employers may provide an orientation for you on your first day.  However, you may need to take the initiative on navigating your work environment.  Below are some questions you should seek answers to:

1.  Will the employer be providing me with an internal email account I should use during the summer?

2.  Is there a server system for saving work product?  If so, what are the conventions for saving and naming documents so that others can access them if needed?

3.  Are there standard templates for a memo, pleadings, letters?  If so, where can I find them?

4.  Should I be making entries of my time for purposes of billing clients?  If so, how should I do so?

5.  Is there a support staff member that I should approach with technical or logistical questions?


Finding Articles on Summer Job Success for Law Students

Use HeinOnline to search the American Bar Association publication Student Lawyer for articles on summer job success. 


1.  Arrin Greenwood, Summer Associate Cautionary Tales, 39 Student Law. 25 (2011).

2. Adam J. Cohen, How to Prepare a Powerful Memo, 37 Student Law. 26 (2009).

3. Carla deVelder, Make It Work: How to Survive (and Thrive) in an Unpaid Internship, 37 Student Law. 5 (2009).

To find other summer associate articles, try this search:

Recent issues are also available on the ABA Law Student Division website here


Guide Creator

This guide was originally created by Marsha K. Stacey and Sarah Kammer.  It has been revised and updated for Summer 2017 by Sarah Kammer.


Books from the USD Law Library Containing Tips for Success at your Summer Job and Beyond

Cover Art
Starting Work: For Interns, New Hires, and Summer Associates - Mary Crane
Call Number: CAREER SERVICES OFFICE - ROOM 223 HF5386 .C8932 2013
ISBN: 9780989066402
Publication Date: 2013-05-01

Cover Art
Law School Survival Manual - Nancy Rapoport; Jeffrey D. Van Neil
ISBN: 0735594902
Publication Date: 2010-05-24
Chapter 11 "Summer Jobs"

Cover Art
Introduction to the Study and Practice of Law in a Nutshell, 6th - Kenney F. Hegland; Paula A. Franzese
ISBN: 0314290427
Publication Date: 2014-03-11

Cover Art
The Ultimate Guide to Your Legal Career - K. Charles Cannon
Call Number: CAREER SERVICES OFFICE - ROOM 223 KF297 .C327 2007
ISBN: 1600940056
Publication Date: 2007-05-31
See pages 99-110

Cover Art
From Law School to Law Practice - Suzanne B. O'Neill; Catherine G. Sparkman
Call Number: CAREER SERVICES OFFICE - ROOM 223 KF300 .O56 1998
ISBN: 0831807652
Publication Date: 1998-01-01
Although this book is a guide for new associates, it contains much information useful to summer associates and interns, including Part II on Expectations of Supervising Attorneys - "Skill Development: Avoiding Pitfalls from the Start," and Part III on Expectations within a Corporate Legal Department.

Cover Art
Time Management for Students and New Professionals - Mary Crane
Call Number: CAREER SERVICES OFFICE - ROOM 223 HF5381 .C73 2015
ISBN: 9780989066464
Publication Date: 2015-03-01

Cover Art
The Bridge: How to Launch Your Career Through a Legal Internship - Maxwell D. Rosenthal
Call Number: CAREER SERVICES OFFICE - ROOM 223 KF282.7 .R67 2015
ISBN: 9781632818102
Publication Date: 2015-11-01


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