NWLSO’s Tips: Summer Job Success

Editor's Note: NWLSO is pleased to present blog posts that offers advice to our readers from the Ms. JD Board. This week's NWLSO's Tips will focus on "Summer Job Success"; no matter where you're spending your summer, we think this advice will be helpful to you! If you're enjoying these posts, you can sign up to be an individual member of NWLSO, or you can start a NWLSO chapter at your law school (or check on the status of NWLSO at your law school) by emailing our NWLSO liaison Liz Hague at nwlso@ms-jd.org.  

1. It can be intimidating to speak up in meetings, but one thing you should always make sure to do is clarify the assignment. Otherwise, you may get on the wrong track because of a misunderstanding or miscommunication, which will prevent your excellent work from shining through! -  Liz Hague, NWLSO Liaison

2. Get to know the community.  In addition to getting to know the people you're working with, get out and learn about the community you're working in, especially if you may want to live there long term.  Attend bar association events, join a kickball, softball, or basketball league, check out the museums, find a salsa night ... do whatever it is that you would want to do if you lived there permanently. - Katie Larkin-Wong, Ms. JD President 

3. Keep your eyes up and build relationships where you are working. It is extremely important to do great work, but it is just as important to develop relationships with the people you are working with. When you make a mistake, which everyone does, it's much easier to tell someone when you have a one on one relationship with them. It's the same when you need help on a project, it's easier to ask someone that you know for help and they will be more inclined to help you in turn. Relationship building is something that is easily forgotten in our 24/7 world, but it's extremely important for your legal career. - Kim Watson, Ms. JD Board Member

4. No matter what you do during the summer, start every day prepared to learn something new. - Carla Laroche, Ms. JD Board Member

5. Remember that mentors come in all shapes and sizes. I used to only actively seek out female mentors because I thought they would want to be the only ones interested in helping me. What I learned was that mentors men, too, want to help you be the best future lawyer you can be. Both male and female practitioners have a lot to teach you, so pay attention. You will be surprised. - Courtney Gabbara, Ms. JD Board Member

6. Find ways to help out and always thank your boss for such opportunities. This can mean taking notes at a meeting for a supervisor which you otherwise would not be able to attend, or help to compile documents for review which aren't a project you are working on. Such work isn't necessarily substantive or fun, but gets you into a new places with new people you would not have otherwise met, and shows you are committed to helping the office prosper as a whole. - Liz Vaysman, Ms. JD Board Member

7. See if you can find a piece of work product to use as a writing sample going forward. Especially for some government jobs, you'll need approvals in order to use your work product as a writing sample, and those are easier to secure when you're there rather than when you're back at school reaching out remotely. - Noorain Khan, Ms. JD Board Member

8. Have a pen and paper with you to take notes on any assignment that might come your way. - Carla Laroche, Ms. JD Board Member

9. Set up an organizational system that works for you and stick to it. For me, this meant keeping a list of daily tasks, and printing off a paper calendar to keep track of the big picture, but I think it's really about knowing yourself and the tools you need to be as productive as possible. - Liz Hague, NWLSO Liaison 

10. Don't just build relationships with the attorneys in your office. There is a lot to be learned from non-practitioners as well. This includes paralegals and office managers. I've learned that without the help of these fantastic people, a lot of offices wouldn't thrive as much as they do. They really can be the backbone of an office and can offer you insight anywhere from the preferred writing style of your supervising attorney to the ins and outs of the office dynamics. - Courtney Gabbara, Ms. JD Board Member

11. Go out to lunch with people not just in your own office/department but others to diversify your connections and better contextualize your work. - Noorain Khan, Ms. JD Board Member

12. Don't be afraid to ask for work in the area you're interested in! Especially if you're at an NGO or other organization without a lot of legal intern infrastructure, it's sometimes necessary to be proactive to make sure you're placed on the cases you want to work on. During a summer internship at an international NGO, I really wanted to observe a court proceeding, but the opportunity didn't present itself until I asked my supervisor for the opportunity to do so. Liz Hague, NWLSO Liaison 

13. Remember to have fun! Though you are there to work hard and prove yourself, make sure to have lunch with your colleagues or join in office activities or happy hours. They know that you are still in law school, and also want you to enjoy your time there. You will also want to work harder for your supervisors if you have a better relationship with them professionally and personally.  - Liz Vaysman, Ms. JD Board Member

14. Don't underestimate what you can learn from more general career advice for your summer position!  Last summer I wrote this piece about tips summer associates can take from Lean In.  Advice on obtaining mentors, organizing for your career, being an active listener, etc. all applies to your summer associate position too. - Katie Larkin-Wong, Ms. JD President

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