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How to Determine Whether You Will Give Summer Associates Offers

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on July 21, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The end of summer is near, and the fall semester of law school is approaching. As your summer associate season comes to a close, there's one big question looming: will you extend the summer associates offers?

These days, having a summer associate job doesn't guarantee an offer, so summer associates may have lower expectations. That said, rather than taking advantage of cheap summer labor, you should really put some thought into whether you should extend offers to any of your summer associates.

Here are some things to consider.

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1. Workload

The first thing to consider is whether you have enough work to go around in the office. And not just any work, but the kind of work you would assign a junior associate such as research, drafting and document review. If you have the work now, or are projecting more in the future, then consider extending an offer to a summer associate to meet those additional needs.

2. Seniority

Think about the mix of attorneys in your office -- are they all senior associates? You definitely want to mix in some attorneys that bill at a lower rate than senior attorneys. No client wants to pay a senior attorneys' rates for junior associate work.

3. Firm Growth

Do you plan on expanding your firm by taking on new clients or practice areas? If so, you'll need additional staff. Not only that, but hiring a junior associate who you can delegate work to will free up your time so that you can network and get more clients for the firm.

4. Firm Culture

One way to have a strong firm culture is to start early on in your staff's careers. That is, if you hire a junior associate you can train them and mold them, whereas if you hire a senior attorney that is used to a different type of firm culture, it may be harder to have a sense of a cohesive firm culture.

5. Performance

After you've determined whether you even need to hire anyone, then you'll need to decide whom to hire. Look at the performance of all your summer associates and give them performance reviews. Not only is their performance important, but how receptive they are to feedback and constructive criticism is also very telling. Ultimately, you'll need to find someone who does good work, and that you won't mind seeing 60+ hours/week.

Hopefully you've already put some thought into whether you will extend offers to any of your summer associates. If you haven't, then the time to start thinking about it is now.

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