As in just about all areas of the legal world in 2020, law firm summer associate programs at New Jersey firms and offices have changed in a pandemic year—with a few firms suspending their programs, some shortening them, and still others going entirely or mostly virtual with them. In all cases adjustments are being made.
The overall number of New Jersey-based summer associates at 17 bellwether firms is down for this year, but not dramatically so. The group of firms is hosting a total of 60 summer associates this summer, compared with 77, 79 and 78 in each of the last three years.
But even for those firms who went ahead with their programs in the face of COVID-19 restrictions, things are different.
The start of McCarter & English’s program was delayed two weeks, and it is fully virtual. The firm has two 2L and three 3L hires, the same as last year.
“Christine Lydon, McCarter’s Chief Human Resources Officer is making sure that the informal mentoring and camaraderie that organically happens in an office setting is replaced by a scheduled series of virtual coffees and mentoring calls so our summers can interact with as many people as possible. Each summer associate has been assigned four to five virtual mentors,” according to a firm statement.
“The summers will have a minimum of two training sessions per week. One hour minimum for each session, by Zoom. Our Executive Committee and firm leadership are actively involved in many of these training sessions.”