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by Vault Law Editors | March 10, 2020


Participating in the law firm summer interview process is exciting but also can be overwhelming. From distinguishing among law firms to figuring out how to navigate early interviewing, OCI, and callbacks, the process is intense. Luckily, we are here to help with our newly released Vault Guide to Summer Associate Interviewing & Top-Ranked Programs.

This guide is a comprehensive resource on the summer associate process, including in-depth articles and infographics on interviewing and succeeding as a summer associate; summer program rankings; detailed profiles of top-ranked law firm summer programs; comparison charts of law firm summer programs, and a glimpse into the Vault Law 100—a ranking of the most prestigious law firms in the country.

Expert Advice

Summer associate interviewing is a lot like speed dating—during OCI, students often participate in multiple 10- to 15-minute interviews over a few days and then wait for the coveted callback to visit the firm for more interviews. Now more and more firms are offering early interviews before OCI, requiring even more planning and strategizing for students. Plus, students need to set themselves up for success once they actually become summer associates. We understand the trepidation that comes with tackling this process. That’s why we have included expert advice from lawyers, law firm recruiting departments, and the Vault team to help answer the myriad questions law students may have on such topics as:

  • Summer Associate Job Search – Tips on researching firms and selecting the right ones for bidding
  • Resume and Cover Letter Advice – Advice on crafting a stand-out legal resume and cover letter
  • Summer Associate Interview Tips – Guidance on how to succeed during OCI and callback interviews
  • Summer Associate Interview Questions – Real interview questions from top-ranked law firms
  • Summer Associate Experience – How to succeed as a summer associate and insight into what it is like to work as a summer associate at a law firm

We have also created a summer associate interview timeline and infographics with useful tips on such areas as creating a resume and visiting firm hospitality suites.

Summer Program Rankings

Included in this guide are also Vault’s 2020 Summer Program Rankings:

Nearly 20,000 law firm associates participated in Vault’s recent Annual Associate Survey. From this pool, Vault asked associates who participated in their current firms’ summer associate programs in 2015, 2016, and/or 2017 to look back at their time as summer associates and rate their experiences. Vault received responses from more than 5,000 associates who summered in those years. The associates were asked to rate their experience on a scale of 1 to 10 in six different areas: attorney interactions, substantive assignments, training and mentoring, preparation for associate life, quality of events, and satisfaction with firm-sponsored social opportunities and social interactions. The Overall Best Summer Associate Program ranking reflects the average of these six categories.

Law Firm Summer Program Profiles

The Vault Guide to Summer Associate Interviewing & Top-Ranked Programs features profiles for all law firms who rank in any of Vault’s summer program rankings, including the Top 10 top-ranked summer associate programs:

  1. O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  2. Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
  3. Clifford Chance US LLP
  4. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
  5. Crowell & Moring LLP
  6. Thompson & Knight LLP
  7. Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP
  8. Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP
  9. White & Case LLP
  10. Williams & Connolly LLP


These profiles include valuable information about the firm and its summer program, including compensation, firm size, summer associate offer data, schools visited during OCI, and more. Each one also has a description of the summer program in the firm’s words, a Vault-written overview of the firm and its summer program based on our editors’ review of the firm’s survey responses, and representative quotes from real associates who participated in the firm’s summer program.

Comparison Charts

One of the most difficult aspects of the summer associate interview process is differentiating among the firms. Many law students are new to the legal industry and don’t have contacts within firms or an understanding of what sets firms apart. Our law firm profiles are great resources for learning more about firms and what it is like to work at them. We also offer comparison charts at the back of the Vault Guide to Summer Associate Interviewing & Top-Ranked Programs so that students can easily compare key information across firms, including:

  • Summer Program Data: Program length, whether practices are assigned, whether splitting offices is allowed, whether summers can split with another firm
  • Summer Associate Totals and Offer Numbers
  • Vault Summer Associate Program Rankings
  • Vault Law 100 Rankings & Associate Quality of Life Rankings

Vault Law 100

Researching your target firms’ summer programs is an important step in narrowing your firm list. But it is also critical to consider your long-term career at the firm beyond your summer program. The factors that are most valuable in this assessment will be personal to you. Some areas that may be useful to consider are a firm’s prestige, the quality of life at the firm, and insights from associates who work at the firm.  

The Vault Law 100 is Vault’s ranking of the 100 most prestigious law firms in the U.S. We have included the full Vault Law 100 ranking, as well as the Vault’s Verdict for each of the top 100 law firms in this guide. Vault’s Verdict is an editorial summary of the general tenor of associate comments for a particular firm as received through Vault’s Annual Associate Survey. We hope this bonus content will help students research more effectively and better pinpoint their target firms.

All-in-One Resource

The summer associate program you ultimately select can have a major impact on your future career, as many law students go on to become associates at their summer firms. Understanding the law firm landscape and being prepared for both the interview process and your time as a summer associate are critical. The Vault Guide to Summer Associate Interviewing & Top-Ranked Programs is your go-to resource for all aspects of the summer associate process.

Many law students will have free access to the ebook through their law schools. Check with your career services office or law library to obtain your login. Also, check with your career services office to obtain a free hard copy of the guide (which is compact and easy to carry during the interview season)!

Best of luck during the upcoming recruiting season!


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