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by Nicole Weber | July 10, 2014


When it comes to finding a career in the legal industry, one of the most important decisions prospective lawyers can make is choosing the right summer associate program. In our annual associate survey, in which nearly 17,000 law firm associates participated, we asked first- through third-year associates who had summered 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 Vault’s Best Overall Summer Associate Programs list.

This year, a new firm earned the Best Overall Summer Associate Program title: Morrison & Foerster returned to the rankings at No. 1, after a brief absence from the list last year. The previous winner, Venable, fell to No. 4, but it was named the Summer Associate Program that Best Prepares for Practice for the second straight year. Schulte Roth & Zabel took the No. 1 spot for Most Fun Summer Associate Program.   

‘Tis the season for rising 2Ls to research law firms in preparation for the on-campus interview process. The summer program a student chooses will set the stage for that individual’s entire career, and every firm approaches the summer differently. Some programs are focused on social activities and events, while others want to give students a very accurate picture of firm life so they know what awaits after graduation. Students should understand what to expect from their chosen firm’s program so they can navigate the summer to their full advantage.

The Top 10 Best Overall Law Firm Summer Associate Programs are:

  1. Morrison & Foerster
  2. Foley Hoag
  3. O’Melveny & Myers
  4. Venable
  5. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher
  6. Shook, Hardy & Bacon
  7. Schiff Hardin
  8. Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz
  9. Holland & Knight
  10. Kaye Scholer

MoFo associates who had summered at the firm told us that “[t]he firm wants summers to have a good time and also to understand what it is like to work there for real” and that the firm “finds a good balance between getting a taste of being a young associate and getting a chance to meet and interact with attorneys in an informal, fun environment.” Another former summer associate appreciated the “[d]iversity in assignments and social events” and noted that the “[s]mall size of [the] summer program added tremendously to [the] overall experience.”

See the full list of Best Overall Summer Associate Programs.

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

  1. Venable
  2. Chadbourne & Parke
  3. Cravath, Swaine & Moore
  4. Foley Hoag / Morrison & Foerster (tie)
  5. Holland & Knight
  6. Schiff Hardin
  7. O’Melveny & Myers
  8. Squire Patton Boggs
  9. Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz
  10. Williams & Connolly

For the second straight year, Venable attorneys raved about the preparation they received as summer associates. “Venable’s summer program is consistently representative of what life is like here for a junior associate,” said one respondent. “The program is fun, but definitely involves a lot of real work of the sort that a first-, second-, or third-year associate would generally be doing.”

See the full list of Summer Associate Programs that Best Prepare for Practice.

The Top 10 Most Fun Summer Associate Programs are:

  1. Schulte Roth & Zabel
  2. Irell & Manella
  3. Shook, Hardy & Bacon
  4. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  5. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher
  6. Latham & Watkins
  7. Alston & Bird / Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy (tie)
  8. Morrison & Foerster
  9. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  10. Kaye Scholer

Schulte Roth ranked No. 1 after not making last year’s rankings by a narrow margin. Associates raved about the “fantastically well-run” program that has “tons of social events.” One survey respondent explained just how important fun can be in one’s legal career, stating, “The summer associate program was a great introduction to the firm. It gave me the opportunity to meet attorneys in a variety of practice groups, many of whom I work with as an associate, and to start developing informal mentor relationships that have been useful as an associate.”

See the full list of Most Fun Summer Associate Programs.

What’s your preference? Wining, dining and yacht excursions as a last hurrah before reality sets in? Getting treated like a grown-up, midnight oil-burning junior attorney ASAP? Or a mix of both?

View the entire 2015 lists of Best Summer Associate Programs and Best Law Firms to Work For

Follow me on Twitter @VaultLaw


Filed Under: Law

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