CBLR 2015 Summer Associate Survey Results


As a business law journal, we spend a lot of time reading about and pondering better ways to do business. Lately, we’ve also been contemplating something that many of us went through recently: getting law firm jobs. At the core of that business, students want to end up at firms that do the kind of work they’re interested in, in ways that work best for them.  

Now, we have access to information about what happens during on-campus interviews, but we don’t typically see data about what work students actually did at their chosen firms over their 2L summers. That’s an important gap that should be filled–after all, the goal is to work at these firms, not just to be hired. At CBLR, we think there’s a better way to approach law firm recruiting, for everyone involved, by looking at data from a slightly longer timeline.   

Thus, we decided to break out of our publishing shell and conducted a survey of current third-year students at Columbia Law School who worked at New York City law firms during their 2L summers. The CBLR Summer Associate Survey asked a series of questions to discover more about the work that soon-to-be-lawyers did and want to do at firms: (1) what they’re interested in, (2) why they chose those areas, and (3) how they’re thinking about their careers after 2L summer.  

We received 106 responses of approximately 240 students who summered in New York City. The data provided us with information that will help in the following ways:

  • 2Ls going into on-campus interviews or the Early Interview Program (“EIP”) can get a broader sense of what people actually did and enjoyed at different firms;
  • Firms will be able to see why people chose certain firms or practice areas and make improvements to their work assignment and support systems for the summer or beyond;
  • CLS will have concrete data about which classes students found helpful for their summer work and what classes students wish were offered; and
  • As an industry, we’ll be able to see which practice areas across a market appeal to young professionals and how that changes over time, in addition to how young lawyers are thinking about their careers as they enter the workforce.

While this reflects the opinions of a certain percentage of law students at Columbia Law School, this is not an exhaustive survey of law students who will be working in New York City. We plan to continue conducting this survey on an annual basis to ascertain any trends and whether students are responsive to changes in the market.

Below, we have summarized some of the data, primarily relating to what students did at firms and what they thought was helpful to their summers. We will release data regarding how students chose firms and how they are thinking about their careers at a later date.  

Many thanks to Professor Talley for his guidance on this project, and to Nate Bender, Synne Chapman, Kyle Diamond, Carrie Guo, and Erin Walsh for their hard work in creating and running this survey.  

Thank you for your interest in CBLR.

Yours sincerely,

Jenny Lee


1. When asked to select which practice area interested them the most prior to EIP, students responded:

Preferred Practice Area Prior to EIP

2. When asked to provide up to three (3) factors that led them to become interested in a particular practice area, students chose:

Factors that led to interest in a particular practice area

3. The practice areas students were most interested in exploring prior to EIP included:

Practice Areas of Interest Prior to EIP

4. The practice areas in which students completed at least one assignment this past summer included:

Practice areas in which students completed assignments

5. The practice areas students most enjoyed this past summer included:

Practice areas students most enjoyed

6. The practice areas recommended to students by attorneys at their firm this past summer included:

Practice areas recommended by attorneys

7. The practice areas students were advised to avoid by attorneys at their firm this past summer included:

Practice areas attorneys recommended students avoid

8. Classes that students believed helped prepare them for their summer associate experience included:


9. 86% of students are returning to a firm where they worked this past summer, while 12% of students are not returning to their summer firm.

Students returning to summer firms

10. Classes that students plan on taking during their 3L year to prepare for their future careers include:

Classes that students plan on taking

11. When asked to provide classes that they believed the law school should offer to better prepare students for their post-law school career, student responses included:

  • Drafting (incl. internal documents)
  • Operations of law firms
  • Management
  • Finance classes
  • Legal research / writing
  • Generally, more practical classes for both corporate and litigation and more access to business school classes.

Students wanted the following classes to be offered both semesters:

  • Trademarks
  • Real estate
  • Trusts & estates
  • Partnership tax

12. Aspects of EIP/law firms about which students wish they had more information prior to interviewing included:

More information during EIP

13. Resources students found most helpful during EIP included:

Resources students found helpful

About CBLR

Columbia Business Law Review is the first legal periodical at a national law school to be devoted solely to the publication of articles focusing on the interaction of the legal profession and the business community. The review publishes three issues yearly, which involve students in the editing of leading articles in business law, as well as the production of student-written notes.