August 13, 2021 Share
Top 3 Tips for Making the Most of Your Summer Associate Experience
By: Alejandra Gancedo (Florida State University)
1. Start with the Basics
As a Summer Associate, it is important to remember that you are here to grow and learn about the legal field. Specifically, you have the opportunity to experience “a day in the life” of an associate attorney for ten weeks. With that being said, it is essential to learn the way that a case is processed, analyzed, and evaluated before beginning to understand the way that a defense strategy is prepared. In other words, starting from the basics can lead to success throughout the program and provide a valuable foundation for kickstarting your legal career. During your initial days in the Summer Associate Program, become familiar with the way that cases are organized and categorized, including the way that the facts remain consistent and differ from previous cases. The first unit I was able to rotate through at Kelley Kronenberg was the Construction Defect Unit. It was in Construction Defect that I learned the importance of creating and understanding a timeline of events for any given case, regardless of the area of law that case falls under. It is central to any given practice that you understand the facts associated with that specific case, including the way that the events unfolded. Starting with the “basics,” therefore, is a great place to begin your journey as a Summer Associate.
2. Welcome Challenging Assignments
It is inevitable that you will be assigned assignments as a Summer Associate which look a bit daunting, especially when you have never completed anything similar in law school. It is important to remember, however, that these challenging assignments are what strengthen our ability to “think like a lawyer” or critical analysis skills. My second rotation at Kelley Kronenberg was the First Party Property Unit, where I was tasked with creating a defense strategy based on a Florida Statute. As a student that had absolutely no prior knowledge of First Party Property, I felt nervous to take on the assignment. In order to overcome this challenge, I decided to conduct research on the Florida Statute itself and how to interpret it. After getting a good grasp on what the statute intended to implement, I applied it to the facts at hand and created an analysis. After turning in the assignment to my supervising attorney, I received valuable feedback on ways to improve my analysis, including suggestions on things to both remove and add to my writing. After this initial experience, I was able to complete the same type of assignment, on different cases, with much more ease and confidence. I learned several lessons from this experience. First, it is okay to have to conduct preliminary research before both understanding and beginning an assignment. Second, it is important to learn from the feedback that your supervising attorney provides, as it will equip you with the ability to succeed in future assignments. Lastly, do not be afraid of challenging assignments. Instead, welcome these assignments, as they are the ones that truly aid in ensuring we have the tools necessary to become successful attorneys.
3. Ask Questions
My last tip includes making sure that you take every opportunity to ask all types of questions. When given an assignment, make sure to ask questions about what your supervising attorney expects, tips on how to complete the assignment, and even guidance if you feel stuck. All of my supervising attorneys throughout my experience at Kelley Kronenberg were happy to answer my questions and even welcomed these questions. The only way to truly learn and gain valuable experience is to ask questions, especially when given assignments. Similarly, it is important to ask questions about the legal field in general. One aspect of the legal field that really interested me, and I hoped to gain the perspective of multiple attorneys, was work-life balance. Is it possible to have a balance outside of the demanding legal profession? This was a question that I asked, and I did gain valuable insight, advice, and tips from attorneys at Kelley Kronenberg. It is essential, therefore, to ask the questions that you are interested in gaining information on, whether that is about a specific assignment or what it is truly like to be an attorney. By asking these types of questions, I made the most of my Summer Associate experience at Kelley Kronenberg.
DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as a courtesy and is intended for the general information of the matters discussed above and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Neither Kelley Kronenberg, nor its individual attorneys, staff or educational program associates, are responsible for errors, omissions and/or typographical errors – always seek competent legal counsel.