There are about 150 columns, in June 2019 I featured in a column three tips for new IP summer associates. There, I discussed the importance of future summers showing gratitude and humility, despite significant academic accomplishments that put them in a position to land a summer associate spot in the first place. I also reminded future summers that it is essential to avoid gossip and not share too many personal details in a law firm. At the same time, however, I also explained why it is so important to learn what you can from new senior colleagues during the Summer Associate experience, while being aware that posting genuine interest and curiosity is the key to releasing positive feelings. of those with whom you interact.
Ultimately, I tried to reinforce the goal of any summer associate experience – “to leave the firm feeling confident that you can be hired full-time right out of law school” . That’s what it’s about. And now, with nearly every Biglaw firm posting top-notch financial performance in 2021, it’s no surprise to see summer associate programs set to be back in full swing this summer. In fact, it’s already been reported that the 2022 summer associate classes could be the biggest ever at some companies, even though many companies are still working on their post-pandemic return-to-office plans.
For example, a Reuters article explains how the companies plan to revive the social events that were such a big part of the summer associates experience before the pandemic. With a twist, of course, to accommodate the hybrid work schedules that are such a big part of today’s Biglaw work pace. Likewise, companies are embracing flexible office hours for Summer Associates, both to align their in-person presence with days when the office is more full, as well as to give Summer Associates a taste of how Biglaw has operated – indeed thrived – virtually from the start of the pandemic until today.
In perhaps one of the most exciting developments, Skadden is to introduce “summer conferences on topics such as financial wellness, nutrition and stress management” – in another example of how firms want to keep young associates ready to stay both physically and mentally healthy despite the challenges of joining a Biglaw firm during boom times. Taken together, it looks like the 2022 Summer Associate Class is about to have an interesting ride, even as companies with the money seek to both pamper and educate in hopes of discovering which of today’s neophytes has what it takes to become tomorrow’s best billers and firm citizens.
So how should the Summer Associate Class of 2022 handle their first foray into a law firm’s IP group, whether in a Biglaw setting or a boutique? For starters, I continue to believe that the advice from my 2019 column is still relevant, as well as a good starting point for thinking about how best to present yourself in a new professional environment. But we can always do more to excel, so here are three more tips summer IP associates should consider as they head into one of the most exciting, yet binary, experiences they’ll ever have. in legal practice. Binary, because at the end of the summer there will either be a post-law full-time job offer or a polite communication that the associate candidate is not cut out for success at Firm X. The first category is much more pleasant.
As a start, I would suggest that 2022 Summer Associates educate themselves as fully as possible about the changes the pandemic has brought to the IP practice into which they are recruited. Is the group expanding or contracting? How busy has everyone been – and does it look like the boom time will continue? Are there any new areas of intellectual property the company is looking to expand into, for example branching out into a litigation area, such as trade secrets, in which the group was not previously active? In short, do your best to find out about the group you are joining. And pay close attention to any disparities between what you’ve read and heard and what you see with your own eyes when you spend time in the group. In particular, monitor whether senior associates are happy or grumpy. In the latter case, recognize that these are some of the company’s most profitable assets – and if they’re unhappy, it may not speak well of the culture of the company as a whole. together.
Second, it’s important that summer associates try to create some sort of concrete work product over the summer. Whether it’s co-authoring a paper with a partner – everyone loves a volunteer researcher – or writing a dissertation draft as part of a volunteer or paid affair, it’s important to have something to report as your own written work when you are at anything is possible. Besides being good practice for the type of marketing you will do as an associate or more senior partner, your writing may have future uses that cannot be anticipated. At such a formative stage in a legal career, it’s important to remember that there may never be a better time to get into the habit of writing than during the partners’ summer days. When else will you earn the equivalent of a full associate’s weekly salary without billable expectations?
Finally, I believe modern IP associates need to develop a passing familiarity with two topics at the earliest possible stage in their legal careers. These two topics? Litigation funding and crypto/NFT. As with writing, your summer associate days are well-suited for diving into these and other topics of interest, without the burden of schoolwork or the need to bill enough hours to justify pursuing his work. Why these two topics? For one thing, many older lawyers are not fluent in these areas, but may have already begun to see the impact of the evolution of these species on their own practices. As such, a younger associate with a real knowledge base in these areas will be of inordinate help. Similarly, there is no doubt that litigation funding and crypto/NFT work will continue to have a significant impact on IP practice for the foreseeable future. Building a solid foundation in these areas could be a great way for a young IP partner to set themselves apart if they can successfully turn their summer partner position into a full-time job after law school. All eyes on the prize…and good luck to the 2022 IP Summer Associates.
Gaston Kroub lives in Brooklyn and is a founding partner of Kroub, Silbersher & Kolmykov LLCan intellectual property litigation boutique, and Markman Advisors LLC, a leading patent advisory firm for the investment community. Gaston’s practice focuses on intellectual property litigation and related advice, with a particular focus on patent matters. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @gkroub.