Lexis® Hub

How Social Should You Be?

During your time as a summer associate, how can you be sociable, but also appropriate? Although you likely have many opportunities to socialize with professionals at the firm, are there gray areas you’ve been wondering about? For example: 
  • Should you be careful about initiating extended social conversations during work hours? Is there a rule of thumb?
  • What are the expectations of summer associates at special outings, such as ball games and cultural events?
  • With today’s economic challenges, should summer associates expect to receive fewer perks and show higher regard for the firm’s budget than in the past?
  • Under what circumstances is it advisable (or inadvisable) for summer associates to share personal information or viewpoints on politics, religion, interests, hobbies, family, etc.? 
  • Should you speak up readily in client-facing situations or wait until a more senior professional invites you to join the discussion?
Of course the answers can vary from firm to firm. You may not even need distinct answers to each social question that crosses your mind … sometimes it’s best to just use your good judgment. But you may want to find appropriate social settings to discreetly ask the few questions that concern you most. The key is to make a favorable impression and show initiative without making a major blunder that could embarrass you—or even a partner.
Here are some online resources you may find helpful:
Social tips offered by firm attorneys to summer associates—from attending firm events to being up front about prior plans: http://www.law.virginia.edu/html/news/2004_spr/summer_tips.htm
Law Blog etiquette points—from when it’s okay to eat French fries with your hands to what to do with your napkin when you get up, plus a variety of miscellaneous comments: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/05/10/law-blog-news-you-can-use-an-associate-etiquette-lesson/
Possibility that firms will have less corporate work to assign this summer due to economic issues (and the need for you to be flexible): http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/05/13/for-summer-associates-will-there-be-enough-work/
Preferences expressed by summer associates surveyed—from firm size to work environment, entertainment perks, assignments and even travel opportunities: http://www.americanlawyerse.com/1107/main07.html
Your firm’s Web site—See if there’s a career section with questions and answers. Many sites provide fairly specific details to help smooth the way for summer associates.
Lexis® Hub discussion board—post your questions and share answers with your peers at http://law.lexisnexis.com/newattorney/Discussion-Board/General-Discussion.