Our summer associate program has long been the firm's primary resource for bringing talented lawyers into our practice. Law students who have completed their first or second year of study are exposed to a wide range of practices, projects, and attorneys during their summer stays. We encourage a summer associate in any of our offices to work in as many of our practice groups as is possible during their time with us. We believe this is important because we know it is often at the end of a student's academic career, or after, that he or she identifies a more specific direction to take in private practice.
We also think it is important that our summer associates work with as many different lawyers as possible. Because so many of our future associates and partners begin their journey with Smith Moore Leatherwood as summer associates, we want them to get to know how we practice and also why our lawyers approach problems — and solve them — as they do. We believe this ensures that summer associates will receive an integrated view of our work, and our people, which is the only way to truly assess the "life of the firm."
As best we can manage, we want our summer associates to get a realistic view of our work and people. We intend for summer associates to work on projects that demonstrate how we work, write, and think in a variety of circumstances. This ensures that they will see how lawyers do their work in a collaborative environment, and also allows us to see how they would mesh into ours. Part of the summer experience is also watching good lawyers work for their clients, in depositions, mediations, closings, and negotiations. We therefore encourage our summer associates to take advantage of such observational opportunities, even those that are not related to their assigned projects for the summer.
We hope that our program provides honest feedback to summer associates about their work and approach to it. We have always believed that telling summer associates as much about us as they want to know is our best course for convincing them to be a part of our firm over the long haul. While not all of our summer associates will leave our program believing that Smith Moore Leatherwood is the best fit for them, we want all of them to feel that they received an honest look at the practice and life of our firm, and that they receive the information they need in order to make their best decision with respect to future employment.
An important part of the summer is the opportunity for summer associates to interact with our lawyers and staff in social settings. This provides an opportunity for summer associates to further assess the type of people who are attracted to Smith Moore Leatherwood. A round of golf, whirl on the dance floor, or weekend retreat may not be the best barometer of the work of the firm, but experience tells us that it gives our summer associates valuable insight into whether they want to make a career investment with the lawyers who make up Smith Moore Leatherwood.