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by Vault Law Editors | July 17, 2013


Just in time for early interviews, Vault has released its third annual Law Firm Summer Associate Program Rankings.

As part of our Associate Survey earlier this year, Vault asked first- through third-year associates who had worked as summer associates at their current firms to rate the program both in terms of how well it prepared them for full-time practice and how much fun they had. The average of these two scores determined which firms ranked on our Best Overall Summer Associate Programs list.

Vault’s rankings are based on the insights of current junior associates who are looking back on their summer experiences, so they have had time to reflect on their firm’s program and the ways in which it has helped them to become better lawyers.

Among our highest-rated summer programs are those that manage to provide both a realistic depiction of associate life and engaging social opportunities, so that summer associates not only develop an accurate sense of what lawyers do day to day, but also form valuable bonds with their classmates and others at the firm.

This year, Venable was named the Overall Best Summer Associate Program, while also being rated the firm that best prepares summer associates for practice.

Here are the Top 10 Best Law Firm Summer Associate Programs, along with some comments from former summer associates:

1. Venable: “Venable has an amazing program, whereby it dedicates time and energy to integrating the summer associates into substantive work projects, while making sure that everyone has a good time.”

2. Troutman Sanders: “The firm’s summer program was excellent, with a clear focus on showing what it is like to be Troutman attorney, but also taking time to have fun.”

3. Schiff Hardin: “Couldn’t think of a better law firm culture if I was going to start from scratch.”

4. Paul Hastings: “Gave a very true perspective of what it was like to be here as an associate, and it was a lot of fun and great way to know both other summer associates and other lawyers.”

5. Bingham McCutchen: “The summer associate program provides fun social events but also gives summers the opportunity to engage in substantive work that mirrors the type of work that full-time associates do.”

6. Dickstein Shapiro: “A good taste of what the firm culture is like and how it is to work with partners and associates.”

7. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer: “Realistic and the right balance between law and fun.”

8. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher / Shook, Hardy & Bacon (tie): “They hit the work/play balance perfectly.” (Gibson) / “Our summer associate program is second to none.” (Shook)

9. Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz: “Baker Donelson has exceeded every expectation that I had about working for a large law firm.”

10. Irell & Manella: “The firm’s summer program is a perfect mix of getting to do substantive work and getting to have a lot of fun while getting to know your future colleagues.”

View the entire list of Vault’s Best Overall Summer Associate Program Rankings.

In addition to being named the Best Overall Summer Associate Program, Venable was also rated the No. 1 firm in the “Best Prepares for Practice” rankings.

The Top 10 Summer Associate Programs that Best Prepare for Practice are:

  1. Venable
  2. Cravath, Swaine & Moore
  3. Schiff Hardin
  4. Bingham McCutchen
  5. Paul Hastings
  6. Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz
  7. Chadbourne & Parke
  8. Williams & Connolly
  9. Reed Smith
  10. Fish & Richardson / Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (tie)

View the full ranking of the Summer Associate Programs that Best Prepare for Practice.

Vault’s survey also asked associates to rate how much fun their summer experiences were. For the second straight year, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman took the No. 1 spot among the “Most Fun Summer Associate Programs.”

The Top 10 Most Fun Summer Associate Programs are:

  1. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman
  2. Shook, Hardy & Bacon
  3. Irell & Manella
  4. Troutman Sanders
  5. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher
  6. Linklaters
  7. Ropes & Gray
  8. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  9. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
  10. Haynes and Boone

View the full ranking of the Most Fun Summer Associate Programs.

To see a list of all of Vault’s 2014 Law Firm Rankings, click here.


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