Summer Associates: Create Great Work Product

Try your best to produce GREAT quality work product because if you want a permanent job offer, good enough isn’t going to cut it this summer.  I learned early as a summer associate that what I thought was great work product wasn’t even in the ballpark.  What I considered my final draft in law school should have been viewed as my first draft at the law firm.  So that means that you should give yourself PLENTY of time to edit and re-draft each project a few times.  It’s not always feasible but if it’s possible, have someone you trust review your draft as well.

Also, watch out for the dreaded request for a “draft”.  If an attorney at the firm ever asks you for a draft, rough draft, quick draft or anything in that ballpark, realize that he or she is NOT thinking about the same thing you and I consider a draft.  You should hear that request as “final draft”.  Don’t turn in a “first draft”.  Turn in the closest thing to a final draft you can create given the time constraints. (Because a request for a draft usually just means less time for you to get the assignment done.)  Unfortunately, if you turn in a true “draft”, you’ll be judged negatively for turning in an unpolished product.

The best way to make sure you produce great quality work is to assume that your final product will be THE final product.  As a summer associate, you usually will not have any clue where your project fits into the big picture.  However, you should always assume that what you deliver will be the final product.  For example, one summer a partner asked me to research a random topic…basically, is it legal or illegal?  I delivered a memo that stated that “it” was illegal. 

You can imagine my initial horror when the partner cc’ed me on an email to the client that simply forwarded out the email I JUST sent to him (with the memo attached).  My immediate thought was OH SHOOT! I quickly opened the memo and read it with a whole new heightened intensity.  Luckily, I concluded that the memo was passable.  However, I definitely did NOT initially edit the project with the same level of intensity and scrutiny as when I reviewed the email forwarded to the client.

Try your best to make every project great and you won’t have any (or as many) “OH SHOOT” moments this summer.  Don’t get discouraged, just realize that you’ll need to give yourself a little more time to review and edit your work.


About Dale-Esq

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