For many of our attorneys, our summer associate program offered an introduction to the practice of law. They recall the excitement of that first meaningful work assignment, meeting and assisting their first client, and making friendships with many people throughout the firm, which endure to this day. Our summer program is more than a good way to spend a summer — it’s a great way to begin a rewarding career with our firm.
Overseen by our Hiring Committee, but actually run by associates constituting the “Summer Associates Committee,” the summer program, which is approximately ten weeks, provides those completing their second year of law school a realistic sense of life as an associate. The Vice Chair of the Hiring Committee and the Professional Recruiting Coordinator handle all assignments, reviews, and summer events.
At the outset of the summer, we ask each summer associate to identify the practice area(s) in which he or she is interested. We make sure that work in the area(s) is assigned, but also freely assign work outside of the designated interests. Often this is done to expose a person to a related field that he or she may find interesting but that he or she has little or no exposure (i.e., securities, commercial, or bankruptcy work for those expressing an interest in general corporate). Often a “best fit” is found through this type of engineered exploration. Regardless, all projects entail actual work that is directly or indirectly needed to serve our clients – there is no “busy work” assigned to fill idle hands. Students are assigned an associate advisor and typically, over the course of the summer, develop relationships with several people within the firm who provide valuable guidance as well.
Summer associates do not “rotate” through our various practice groups; rather, their projects are assigned principally through our Vice Chair of the Hiring Committee, who sees that each summer associate maintains “balance” with assignments. Thus, a summer associate responsible for a more involved writing assignment typically will next receive a less research/writing-intensive project, such as attending a deposition, preparing for a closing, or interacting with the patent office. We actively monitor all assignments to ensure that everyone has a meaningful experience with a balanced workload.
Assigning attorneys complete written evaluations after each project is completed by a summer associate. Each attorney is encouraged to provide immediate feedback to the summer associate as to his/her work on the project as well. A formal review of each summer associate’s work, where all reviews and constructive comments are shared as to assignments to date, is conducted approximately midway through the summer program. Feedback occurs on a regular basis both formally, through this process, and informally, through one’s advisor, the Professional Recruiting Coordinator and other relationships developed throughout the summer. Our summer associates return to school with a strong sense of how their work was perceived during the course of the summer.
The summer social calendar is designed for summer associates to get to know Calfee’s greatest asset –its people. Summer associates regularly interact with the firm’s partners, both as to assigned work and at social events. Events include the annual welcome reception, Indians games, weekly softball games, Broadway productions at Playhouse Square, and concerts at various venues in the area, including Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls under the stars.
Besides functions at some of Cleveland’s most interesting places, such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Great Lakes Science Center, and the Terrace Club at Progressive Field, the firm provides informal dinner gatherings where summer associates and their guests can socialize with us in casual, relaxed environments. Each summer person typically attends a small dinner function (10-14 guests) at the homes of a partner and of an associate during the summer. These events have proven to be both great fun and, most importantly, effective in allowing summer associates to become better familiar with who we are as people — particularly as to our dedication to family life.
Providing interesting, meaningful work experiences and enjoyable social events goes a long way toward shaping an excellent summer program. However, the real success of our program over the years has been due to the many terrific people from schools across the country who have shared their summers with us. Their talent and promise, great personalities, and terrific senses of humor have given us a tradition of tremendously rewarding summers for all involved. Our attorneys, including the many who first experienced Calfee through the Summer Associate Program, are committed to maintaining this tradition.