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Going on an Externship? Tips for Success: Tips for Workplace Success!

“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” OR, "Summer success in an office environment."

Is this your first time in a law firm or professional office?  These tips will make your transition from school to office easy and successful!  Remember, a summer associate position is really a two-month job interview.

Dress for the job you want!

Wear a suit the first day.  Your clothes should be professional.  It's okay to have two suits and five different color blouses/shirts to go with them. You want folks to think about your WORK, not your LOOK.  So, get your hair cut.  Shake hands like you mean it (practice this with your friends.)  And, please, no flip flops!  Not even on "dress down Fridays."

Here are descriptions of professional  and business casual office attire for both men and women.


The Support Staff is there to support you!

If you're lucky enough to be in a firm where you are assigned an assistant, listen to him.  Being friendly with all the folks who keep the firm running can only help you. In a class of summer associates, you want people to remember you're "the nice one."   So, if a copier jams, unjam it! If you don't understand the way legal files work, ask someone so that you don't mess it up.  And if your firm has a librarian, you're in luck!  Librarians can be incredbily helpful in your summer position as this article points out.  And, if you don't have a librarian, no worries, we're here all summer.  You can call or email us when you need.

Those after-hours parties and events

Some summer clerks are lucky enough to be invited to after work events.  Don't ever forget that this is part of your job interview too.  If alcohol is served at an event, you must have no more than two drinks. Seriously.  The law is a stressful profession and many attorneys will use a cookout at the lake as a chance to let their hair down and over-imbibe.  Don't join them.  A good trick here is to drink something you don't really like.  You will end up drinking it more slowly, but you'll always have something in your hand.

Mind your Manners

Many summer associates get to enjoy  a free lunch. These might be lunches with a partner or client.  If you are new to American table manners (or you aren't completely sure how to eat in a restaurant with more than three forks,)  there are many youtube videos that can help you.  Here's a good one for a formal meal and one for an informal lunch.

Use your best judgment!

You know what to do. Show up on time.  Get your assignments completed.  Proof-read (twice!)  No office romance.  No client romance. And don't be like ANY of these folks...