For many of our lawyers, the process of professional growth at Richards, Layton & Finger began with our summer program, as most of the firm’s new associates come from our summer program each year. The goal of the summer program is to give law students a realistic view of work at the firm while also providing a range of activities to introduce potential associates to the directors of the firm, the nature of the firm’s practice, and the opportunities and lifestyles available in Wilmington. The firm selects its summer associate candidates carefully, with the expectation that the summer associate will succeed and become a full-time associate of our firm upon graduation.
Summer associates are asked to rank their practice area preferences prior to their arrival in May. Each will be assigned to a department in which to start and will change departments midway through the summer. In addition, summer associates are encouraged to seek out work opportunities in practice areas other than the ones in which they are currently working. This enables summer associates to experience the diversity of the firm’s practice and gain an understanding of the differences in the types of legal work available at Richards Layton. Many summer associates opt to spend part of the summer in a litigation-oriented department and the balance of the summer in a transaction-oriented department. The rotation system also allows summer associates to meet and work with a number of directors and associates at the firm.
During each rotation, a director and an associate serve as the summer associate’s mentors. Summer associate mentors help introduce the summer associate to the firm, coordinate the summer associate’s work, and respond to any questions or issues that the summer associate may have. In addition, junior associates serve as buddies to summer associates on an informal basis to assist in their orientation to the firm and to life in Wilmington.
Richards Layton gives its summer associates valuable feedback to help them develop as attorneys. Summer associates receive formal evaluations twice during the summer—at the midpoint and at the end of the program. Assigning attorneys are also strongly encouraged to provide informal feedback to summer associates as each assignment is completed. Richards Layton attorneys, the summer associates’ mentors and the firm’s manager of associate development are always available to respond to questions or to give advice and suggestions.
Practice and Community
Summer associates are given the same level of work and responsibility that is given to full-time associates, including the opportunity to attend trials, hearings, depositions and transactional closings and to meet with clients. For example, last year a summer associate prepared a PowerPoint presentation for a meeting of the board of directors of a major corporation to explain a stockholder rights plan. In addition, informal seminars and luncheons provide summer associates with the chance to learn about and discuss various aspects of the firm’s practice. A variety of social and cultural activities help to introduce summer associates to the firm’s attorneys and to the Wilmington area.