The summer of 2022 was pretty exciting for summer associates — and not just because they were able to spend more time in the office in our “post”-pandemic world. Of course, law students who received offers of permanent employment knew that they’d be making bank after graduation, with starting salaries of $215,000 at firms that matched the Cravath scale. But money wasn’t the only thing summer associates were satisfied with. According to a new survey from the American Lawyer, they were quite happy with just about everything having to do with their experiences.
What matters most to summer associates, and which firms did they like best?
The majority of law firms in our survey of 5,485 summer associates scored above 4.5 out of 5 after we asked summers to give firms marks on partner access and mentorship, interactions with other associates, interesting legal work, and firms’ alignment with their own stated goals and self-image.
Before we get to the rankings, let’s discuss the methodology used by American Lawyer. Firms were ranked by their average scores based on the following categories: partner access and mentorship, interactions with other associates, interesting legal work, firms’ alignment with their own stated goals and self-image, and whether summers were concerned with their mental health or well-being as an attorney.
Without further ado, here are the Top 10 firms:
1. Blank Rome: Average score 5.000
1. Duane Morris: Average score 5.000
3. Kramer Levin: Average score 4.993
4. Paul Hastings: Average score 4.980
5. O’Melveny & Myers: Average score 4.977
6. Stroock: Average score 4.956
7. Allen & Overy: Average score 4.944
8. Day Pitney: Average score 4.935
9. Proskauer Rose: Average score 4.929
10. Akin Gump: Average score 4.915
Click here to see the full rankings.
This year, what was the most important to summers, aside from work-life balance? Mental health. Thanks to Am Law’s inclusion of a ranking on that subject, we now know that about half of summer associates surveyed are concerned about their mental health, and their emotional well-being. Here’s some additional detail from the American Lawyer:
About half of summer associates said they were concerned about mental health in the legal profession, and those who voiced concerns said students and professors at their law schools talk about the grueling nature of Big Law. “I have been told by many in the area of Big Law and by my professors that Big Law is extremely mentally taxing, demanding, high-pressure, and time consuming,” said a summer associate at DLA Piper. “I understand this and have come to terms with it.”
However, those with existing mental health issues worried how they would deal with law firm life. “I have a history of mental health challenges, and I think this profession in general rewards overworking, lack of balance and drawing boundaries between personal and professional life,” said one Foley & Lardner summer associate. “I am also aware of the staggering statistics of suicide and depression among lawyers.”
Others had specific concerns about not fitting in with the culture at their firms and others. “As a woman of color, it is my hope that I am encouraged to prioritize my mental health, as this is a new space to be in and takes time to adjust,” said one summer associate.
On a positive note, Am Law revealed that about three-quarters of summers said they felt their firms genuinely cared about mental health. Are things finally changing for the better in Biglaw? Considering the fact that these altruistic Gen Z summers ranked “helping people” just behind “high compensation” in their reasons for becoming lawyers, that change better come quickly.
Congratulations to all of the firms that earned the respect and appreciation of their summer associates.
Summer Associates Rate Their Experience Across Big Law [American Lawyer]
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.