In the second part of our series on “Acing It as a Summer Associate,” more young associates share tips on what they learned from their recent summer experiences working in-office and remotely.
Bilzin Sumberg litigation associate Brian Trujillo says his Miami 2019 summer experience taught him that he didn’t want to be a transactional lawyer as planned. He counsels summer associates to focus on finding out what practice area suits them best, not just on getting the coveted permanent offer. “You should be prepared to abandon the things you were certain you would like, if it turns out you were wrong,” Trujillo says.
First-year attorneys at Duane Morris, Emily Duffy in Philadelphia and Ashley Barton in San Diego, offer advice on making the most of a virtual experience and on getting the best assignments. Duffy says she was surprised to gain a “new, more global perspective of the firm” from meeting and working virtually with attorneys in other offices. And Barton emphasizes the importance of taking initiative and pouncing on opportunities. “I’ve never received feedback from a partner that I did ‘too much,’” she says.
Hooper Lundy & Bookman’s Matthew Lahana in San Diego and Shawn Trabanino in Los Angeles look at practical questions that many new summer associates have about how to dress and how to ask questions confidently. Lahana says a senior administrative assistant offered the perfect tip. She “explained what Superman knew instinctively. I, like most practicing attorneys, should keep a clean suit in my car ready to put on when an opportunity presents itself, but come to work in business casual and let my work be the main differentiator,” he says.
And Trabanino advises asking for help when it’s needed: “I attempted to learn it all on my own without asking for any help until ultimately I hit a wall. I urge you not to do this—go ahead and ask for help.”
BakerHostetler’s Francesca Rogo didn’t have to think about keeping office attire in her car or pestering partners in person, because she spent her 2020 summer program working from a small New York City one-bedroom apartment with no dedicated work space. “My apartment was strewn with memo drafts and case notes,” she says, but by the end of it she had found a way to create order out of chaos. She counsels others to get organized in advance.
And finally, Bracewell’s Meredith Grant, an associate in Houston, has some evergreen advice for new summer associates. “When in doubt, lean on your mentors. Your mentors were in your shoes not too long ago and there is a reason the firm assigned them to guide you over the summer,” she says.
Click on the associates’ names below to read their stories.
- Bilzin Sumberg’s Brian M. Trujillo (Miami)
- Duane Morris’ Emily Duffy (Philadelphia) and Ashley Barton (San Diego)
- Hooper Lundy & Bookman’s Matthew Lahana (San Diego) and Shawn Trabanino (Los Angeles)
- BakerHostetler’s Francesca Rogo (New York)
- Bracewell LLP’s Meredith Grant (Houston)
In case you missed Part 1, you can read those stories here.