5 Steps to a Successful Summer Associate Program

Summer Associate programs represent an extended interview process where the future lawyer and the law firm are evaluating each other. Your goal as the trainer in charge of technology education efforts is to ensure both have a successful experience related to the firm’s technology.

With such a lofty goal for you to meet, it’s not too early to start planning how you want to handle your portion of the Summer Associate onboarding experience. Doing these 5 things will help you enjoy more success with your program.

Reach out now to your recruiting and/or professional development departments.

Before you jump into updating your outline, make sure you know who’s coming this year and you know what they will be doing. It is entirely possible that recruiting has evaluated last year’s program and made changes that you need to consider as you plan.

Ask:

  • How many summer associates are coming?
  • Any returning from a previous program at your firm?
  • Any coming from a summer program at a different firm?
  • What schools are they coming from?
  • Does the school offer any technical training?
  • What kind of work or tasks will the summer associates be doing this year?
  • Are there any practice specific projects or technology tools requiring special training?
  • Any changes to how the worked the previous year?

Take time for a critical review of last year’s program.

Now is the time to take a deeper look at the previous program. You will be looking for any areas that need to be adjusted so you meet the goals that define success for both the Summer Associates and your firm.

Ask:

  • What content was included?
  • Was it the right context for this year’s program?
  • Don’t stop the features and functions. Was the program engaging?
  • Did the firm’s future lawyers leave understanding the value and role that technology plays in your firm and did they understand the importance of their proper use of technology to the future of the firm?
  • Where did they struggle when they were trying to work?

Develop a blended learning program.

What are you training them? Everything you can possibly think of? That is too much. Cut back to just the essentials that they need to do their job and use eLearning, quick reference materials and law firm peers to provide on-the-job performance support. A blended learning program includes any type of learning experience that enables the Summer Associate to perform better on the job. As you refresh and create new material for your program, look at the content and context from the point of view of the learner.

Ask:

  • What content is best suited for the classroom?
  • Is there anything that should be presented as pre-learning to ensure that the classroom experience is more meaningful?
  • What kind of content and materials would help them perform better at their desk?

Do more than just train.

Prepare your Summer Associates to hit the ground as a contributor to the legal environment rather than struggling trying to build basic skills.

Do:

  • Follow-up with them after class.
  • When you ask if they need help, don’t just ask general questions. Ask specific and targeted questions.
  • Help them understand that learning is not a one-time event. It’s a journey and they will be continuously learning. Make sure they know you are ready to help.

During, and at the end of the program, make notes about what worked and what didn’t.

You’ll want to revisit this list when you start preparing your program next year. Evaluating during and just after gives you an advantage as you plan for future programs.

Ask:

  • Were they engaged during the classroom training?
  • Did I train just enough in class and provide the right kind of content to support performance on the job?
  • Did they ask questions when you checked on them at their desk?
  • What, if any, feedback did they leave with their recruiting and professional development contacts?
  • Was there any content that you were missing that you think would have provided them more support while they were on-the-job?

We want you have to have a successful Summer Associate program this year. From our experience working with law schools, we’ve designed the LTECH Portal. The portal offers access to our legal-specific, eLearning courseware. We are offering access to your Summer Associates at a special rate. Click here to find out more>>

Let us help you be prepared with the right resources!

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