Summer Associates Survey

What It Is: Annual survey of thousands of summer associates at 100-150 law firms nationwide.

Why It Matters To You: This ranking depends on a survey of fellow summer associates. They can give you a view of the day-to-day experience at these law firms, especially comparing that experience to the information they received through promotional literature, NALP, and interviews. How does the actual experience compare to what they were told to expect?

Considerations: Happy summer associates do not necessarily become happy associates. These programs are recruiting tools; law firms try to make a good impression. Additionally, some summer associates don’t yet have a broad context for their experiences. Some opinions may be based on limited knowledge of how law firms work and what it means to be an employee in a formal office setting. But these opinions may also give insight into the sometimes difficult transition from law student to lawyer.

Created By: The American Lawyer

Key Sample Findings


  • Summer Associates Survey (2016): A tie for the top ranking and another year of positive reviews.
  • Summer Associates Survey (2015): Overall, summer associates were a contented group, and the happiest among them said they felt welcomed, engaged and well-guided on serious assignments from partners and senior associates.
  • Summer Associates Survey (2014): Firms are scored based on associate ratings of the firm's qualities, including interest and satisfaction with the work, benefits and compensation, interaction with partners, training, and more.
  • Summer Associates Survey (2013): 3,963 would-be lawyers who completed the poll heaped almost universally positive praise on the 134 firms where they spent the summer.
  • Summer Associates Survey (2012): It’s time to de-emphasize the fun. As one respondent said, “I would ask that the Summer Associate Program be scheduled so that there is a bit more time for work.” A possible reason for the serious-minded pleas: the survey shows anxiety among summer associates at a four-year high.
  • Summer Associates Survey (2011): Law students who spent the past summer working as associates at some of the nation's largest firms went into their jobs knowing the negative reputation that life at such firms can have. They ended the season believing that reputation isn't deserved—at least not where they worked.

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