What Law School Students Should Know About Jackson Walker’s Summer Associate Program

November 27, 2023 | Podcasts

Through our involvement with student organizations, affinity groups, and law school-sponsored events, Jackson Walker meets and connects with first- and second-year law students who are interested in private practice. In this episode, our Director of Associate Recruiting, Meghan Pier, joins to discuss our annual Summer Associate Program and what students should be doing now to secure a summer clerkship.

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Our Host:

Courtney WhiteCourtney White
Research Attorney, Dallas & Houston
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Instagram: @courthousecouture

Episode Guest:

Meghan PierMeghan Pier
Director of Associate Recruiting
Jackson Walker Recruiting Department
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Episode Transcription

Courtney White: Hi, everyone. I am Courtney White, and this is Jackson Walker Fast Takes. Jackson Walker is only as strong as their employees, and Recruiting plays an important role in recruiting and attracting the next generation of talent. Jackson Walker offers a first-half summer program, which typically starts in mid-May and runs for nine weeks, with summer associates required to work for a minimum of six weeks. Today, I have Meghan Pier, the Director of Associate Recruiting, here to discuss the recruiting process for law students.

Meghan, thank you for coming on the podcast with me today.

Meghan Pier: Thank you, Courtney. I’m excited to be here and always love talking about recruiting.

Courtney White: Awesome. I’m excited to talk about recruiting because 1L recruiting has changed so much since I was in law school. I graduated in 2009, and it’s 2023. So, I would love to have a discussion about how the 1L recruiting process works now.

Meghan Pier: Yeah, great point. I’ve been doing law school recruiting for over 12 years now. Law school recruiting used to change every three to five years. Now, we are really seeing law school recruiting change almost annually now. So, 1L recruiting has become really important, especially in the Texas market.

We fill half of our summer associate class with 1L summer associates, and the other half of the class is 2L summer associates. With the 1L recruiting, it’s so important your first semester to really get involved and meet law firms and network, but also your grades are important. And so it’s almost like how do you do it all? Really looking forward to talking about this.

Courtney White: I’d love to know how different is 1L recruiting from 2L recruiting? I know when I was in law school, everyone talked a lot about OCI, was super important to understand those dates and deadlines, but from my understanding now, that has really shifted. I’d love to have this discussion about how being a 1L, or a first-year law student, in that recruiting process differs from being a second-year law school student.

Meghan Pier: Yeah, great question. 1L recruiting is different in a sense, where it’s more driven by the law students to seek out opportunities and to attend events. As a law firm, we partner a lot with student organizations, affinity groups, law school-sponsored events, and we also work a lot with Texas clubs with the out-of-state law schools. So, we’re hosting a lot of events with those student organizations for 1Ls, really teaching them about the 1L process, when to apply, and really just educating them about who Jackson Walker is and why we would be a great fit for them. A lot of 1Ls, you know, you would know about those opportunities, if you were able to join those student organizations. That’s really important to know your first semester of law school – really try to get tied into the different student organizations at your law school.

The real big difference with 2L recruiting is there’s a very formal OCI, which is on-campus interview process, that is hosted by the law schools, whereas 1L recruiting is not as a formal of a process. 1L recruiting is really just job postings that are posted on every law firm’s website that you have to go to individually and apply online to those job postings versus 2L recruiting, where your law school is hosting these big interview days, where the law firms are coming on campus and you can meet the law firms in, like, one big day.

So, the 1L, you have to be much more tied into the timing in the firms you want to apply to and those deadlines to make sure you’re getting your application in on time.

Courtney White: That’s so helpful for 1L students to know, because I can definitely say my 1L year, my focus was making sure I was super focused on my grades. I was really afraid to get involved in student organizations. I’m so thankful that you mentioned that.

I’d love to now talk about our Summer Associate Program, which I think is amazing. But of course, I’m biased. I’d love to know if we can just give any law students or anyone listening a little bit of information on what they’ll experience during the summer.

Meghan Pier: Yeah. I love our Summer Associate Program, too. Our firm does a really great job of giving summer associates a picture of what it would be like to be a junior associate at Jackson Walker. It’s exciting. You get to work on actual client work, almost like a day in a life of what a junior associate would be doing. You also get to attend any kind of opportunities that are happening during the time you’re here with our attorneys, and so that could be client meetings, closings, negotiations, depositions, trials, etc. To get to see our attorneys in action every day is really a selling point for us and for law students to see, you know, when you go to law school, you’re learning how to be a lawyer, but when you’re here in the summer, you’re seeing what is it actually like to be a lawyer?

We also host a mock trial event in all of our cities during the summer, which is sometimes a fan favorite and sometimes really scary for anyone interested on the transactional side. But I will tell you, every year, we have a summer associate who thought they wanted to do transactional, and after the mock trial, they’re calling me telling me, ‘I think I want to do litigation now.’ It’s really fun to see them get to experience that and see people shine and people that thought they might have been so scared about it really just love it in the end.

We also host a lot of fun social events weekly. In the social events, it’s really an opportunity for all of the law students to get to know our attorneys. Our attorneys are just such special people, and we want to make sure by the end of the summer, everyone’s had an opportunity to get to know each other. We also want to showcase our cities. If you’ve never lived in the city before of where our Jackson Walker office is, we want to give you a glimpse into what makes Dallas specia,l what makes Austin or Houston or San Antonio or Fort Worth special. So, we’re really just trying to show you different areas of town and different ideas of opportunities in those cities. We also are really tied into our community. So, we always host a volunteer community event in all of our cities.

We also have our big firmwide event every year, which is my favorite, where we get all of our summer associates together, traditionally in our Dallas office, where everyone flies up to attend for a two-day event. We have guest speakers, we have our firmwide managing partner, we have our fun annual firmwide summer associate challenge event, which gets pretty heated every year. It’s just a really good time to also meet the summer associates from the other offices, because when you start as a first-year associate firmwide, those are your resources that you’re going to have to pick up the phone and call and ask those questions that you might not want to ask the partner or to refer work across practice groups. So, you make those connections now as a 1L that will be with you throughout your whole career.

Courtney White: I absolutely love watching the summer associates at the statewide summer associate event, because you’re exactly right. They are building lifelong collegial friendships and relationships that will benefit them personally and professionally. I love that aspect. The statewide summer associate event and the challenge event is always fun, as well. We are a bit competitive at JW, so it’s always fun to see people interact.

Before we close out the podcast, we talked about a lot of different things with recruiting and our amazing program. I’d love if we can leave everyone listening with some helpful tips to keep in mind during the recruiting season, which from my understanding has really just kicked off for us.

Meghan Pier: Yeah, so 1L recruiting officially kicked off on November 1. For those 1Ls listening, just a couple things to keep in mind is that the recruiters will be your secret weapon. Feel free to always reach out to us, email us, call us, message us on LinkedIn. We are here to help you, and we want you as a candidate. We want to really connect you to our attorneys and get you in the door. Also, remember, we host Home for the Holidays events in our larger offices in Houston and Dallas. We’d love for you to come if you’re here the end of December or early January to come to those cities and get to meet our attorneys and get a feel for what those offices are like. Don’t forget to apply online, but feel free to email us to0 if you have any questions about the process or if you’re looking for any advice during this application season.

One last thing to leave you with is: don’t forget that you were interviewing the firm just as much as we are interviewing you. So, make sure that you’re really asking the firm questions for the topics that you value and that you’re not just hearing those buzzword answers. Really ask the recruiters and the attorneys you’re meeting with for examples when they’re telling you know their answers. For example, Jackson Walker, we’re a very people-first culture. I’ve been at JW for over 16 years now, and the firm has never laid off staff or attorneys since I’ve been here. People just really take the time to know you on a personal level, and you’re not just a cog in the wheel. I walk down the hall and people know my name, they know my daughter’s name, they always ask how she is, and so I think it’s just really great that people invest in you from the start through your whole career. So, if that’s something that’s really important to you, just make sure that you’re asking those questions so you can get a real inside look into what these firms are like.

Courtney White: Meghan, your tips and advice have been so helpful. I loved learning just a little bit more about our recruiting process. So, thank you so much for joining the podcast today.

For additional JW Fast Takes podcasts and webinars, visit JW.com/Fast. Follow Jackson Walker LLP on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The music is by Eve Searls.

The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

In This Story

Courtney J. White
Research Attorney, Dallas