On June 15, 2020, the Student Outreach Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) hosted a webinar discussing how to succeed in virtual summer programs. Moderated by James Cho, an Assistant United States Attorney with the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn and past president of AABANY, the panel featured: Luna Barrington, Partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP; Jeeho Lee, Hiring Partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP; Andrew T. Hahn, Sr., General Counsel at Hawkins, Delafield & Wood; and Irene Han, Executive Director and Assistant General Counsel at JP Morgan Chase.
The panel first addressed what their current firms and organizations were offering for their summer programs, given the challenges of COVID-19. Jeeho Lee explained that the summer programs at O’Melveny & Myers LLP were shortened to six weeks and will be all virtual, but the firm guaranteed offers to all 2L summer associates, and that 1L summer associates were guaranteed positions for the summer of their second year. She emphasized that the staff wants to ensure that the summer program remains an opportunity for the firm to set up a platform for students to build a network with other lawyers. Luna Barrington’s firm, Weil, offered a 10-week program, which featured virtual social events, encouraged students to network, and extended offers to 1L and 2L summer associates. James Cho stated that all of his interns were assigned an Assistant U.S. Attorney to work with and that the program was completely virtual.
Andrew Hahn Sr., who also previously served as President of AABANY and NAPABA, encouraged summer associates and interns to have strong core competencies–reading, writing, and speaking skills–and to also practice their soft skills, especially in regards to social interactions and leadership. Luna Barrington encouraged individuals partaking in summer programs to make an extra effort to go out and meet people at the firm through virtual programs and to be proactive in seeking assignments as a way to distinguish themselves. Irene Han highlighted the importance of demonstrating a learning mindset, active engagement during virtual events (including turning on your video and microphone during meetings), and leadership. Jeeho Lee warned the audience to not take a guaranteed offer for granted, but to remain engaged and build a strong reputation. She also stressed that individuals should make relationships that expand their horizons. Finally, James Cho advised summer associates and interns to be heard, proactive, and present.
Irene Han gave the audience a few basic presentation tips, including dressing in business casual and meeting the cultural expectations of the firm. Jeeho Lee added that individuals should always try to dress professionally, even if others are dressed in casual attire.
When asked how to respond when an attorney is very busy and does not respond to emails and set hard deadlines, the panel suggested that the individual find another person that works with the assigned partner and ask through them. The panel also advised summer associates and interns not to ask to work in person unless the firm announces that it is opening up. They also encouraged individuals to schedule coffee chats with other members of the firm and attend company social events. The panel advised individuals to avoid excessively apologizing for mistakes or not knowing the answers to questions, but rather, to only apologize when it is appropriate and to be direct. Finally, the panelists explained that there may likely be many firms that do not give returning offers to many summer associates due to external factors, but that individuals should ask the HR manager or the director of the summer program for advice for the following summer.
We thank the panelists for their time and the Student Outreach Committee for organizing this informative discussion. For more information on the Student Outreach Committee, see https://www.aabany.org/page/121.