Spencer Fane understands our most valuable asset is our people. The mission of the summer associate program is to recruit students who exhibit excellence in academic performance and who support the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by sharing unique life experiences, beliefs, backgrounds, capabilities, perspectives, personalities and other invaluable attributes.
Expectations for the Summer Program
Spencer Fane’s annual summer associate program has two goals—first, to provide summer associates meaningful work experience and exploration of the firm’s diverse range of legal services; and second, to facilitate informal social interaction to allow summer associates to begin developing relationships with our attorneys and staff. In order to make the most of the summer program, Spence Fane encourages all summer associates to take ownership of the experience.
The firm is committed to deliberate and careful growth, as is reflected by our relatively small summer associate classes. The small class size allows our summer associates to take on substantial responsibilities right away, work with partners directly and informally, and enjoy the satisfaction of client contact at an early stage in their development. In addition to extensive practical experience, our summer associates enjoy opportunities to interact with our attorneys in social settings, as we believe it is important to foster real relationships among our lawyers.
Summer associates are given real work assignments, which are assigned from a variety of practice groups and different attorneys. We encourage summer associates to choose projects in practice areas that appeal to their interests and to take projects from a broad range of assigning attorneys. Summer associates are often given the opportunity to attend client meetings, depositions, mediations, and other court related appearances.
Integration to Firm Culture
Each summer looks slightly different and varies between markets, but our program typically includes a number of happy hours, dinners with attorneys at all levels, sporting events, and other social events to provide summer associates varied opportunities to meet people across the firm, including in other offices. We also encourage summer associates to participate in practice group meetings and diversity and inclusion functions.
The firm assigns a mentor to each summer associate. As much as possible, Spencer Fane attempts to align the legal and personal interests of each summer associate with a mentor who can support the summer associate’s goals for the summer. Mentors serve as a resource for questions big and small. Spencer Fane values high quality legal writing and, consequently, we also assign a “writing mentor” to each summer associate to provide constructive feedback on written work product.
Spencer Fane University
We also offer professional development sessions, known as Spencer Fane University, which provide practical guidance about practice at Spencer Fane and answer common questions from new lawyers. Spencer Fane University is available to summer associates in all of our markets and is also provided to full time associates after graduation from law school.
Feedback and Evaluation
Throughout the course of the summer program, each summer associate will receive feedback in various forms. At the completion of each project, it is the firm’s expectation that informal feedback will be provided directly to the summer associate by the assigning attorney. Formally, written evaluations are completed by assigning attorneys throughout the summer. The coordinator of the summer associate program in each market will meet with each summer associate midway through the program and at the end of the program to discuss the written evaluations, along with any other feedback that has been provided. Additionally, the firm attempts to respond and provide feedback immediately to the extent issues arise through the course of the program.
In determining whether to extend offers for full-time employment or for a 1L summer associates to return for their 2L summer, Spencer Fane considers a broad range of factors, including the summer associate’s work product, integration into the firm’s culture, initiative and desire to contribute to Spencer Fane’s mission and clients’ successes.