Its summer associate season again, but unlike the past two years, it looks as though the new associates will be spending a lot of time in the actual office.
The last two summers were primarily virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this summer most law firms are looking to have summer associates come into the office most of the week.
"The goal is to have this summer be as close to 'normal' as it used to be, and much more in-person as opposed to remote," said Stephanie Biderman, a Partner at legal recruiting firm Major Lindsey & Africa.
Mayer Brown, Vinson & Elkins, and others are asking summer associates to come into the office at least four days a week. Cooley, Skadden Arps Meagher Slate & Flom, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, on the other hand, are asking for at least three days.
Regardless of how often they want their summer associates in the office, firms still plan to hold in-person networking events and outings as they always did before the pandemic.
According to Lauren Maloney, who leads the summer associate program at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, her firm had no in-person social events in 2020 and only a few last year. This year, all of their events will be in-person.
Given that not all full-time associates have returned to the office full-time – and many do not plan to – talent leaders are clustering their in-person events in the middle of the week, when they anticipate that both summer associates and lawyers on hybrid work schedules will be in the office.
Grover Cleveland, a consultant who is running in-person summer associate trainings at about 20 law firms this year, sees firms doing a lot to encourage attorneys to participate in summer associate activities. "Firms understand that summer associates are their future. So I expect there will be strong participation," he said.
In a break from tradition, some firms are also offering new programs to appeal to the younger associates. For instance, Skadden is introducing summer lectures on subjects such as financial wellbeing, nutrition, and stress management, according to Carol Sprague, the firm's Chief Talent and Associate Engagement Officer.
Perhaps in a grim foreshadowing of potential future event, some firms are even teaching summer associates how to work from home. According to Vinson & Elkins' Chief Talent Officer, Hy Pomerance, summer associates will be offered a remote workday on Fridays, which will allow them to learn to use Zoom and remote tools professionally for a "realistic work experience."
Law firms may be attempting to get back to business as usual, but they recognize that