“Necessity Begets Innovation: How Law Firms Adapted to Virtual Summer Associate Plans”

Daily Report

In an article published in the Daily Report on July 16, 2020, Jim Johnson and Beth Wilson discuss the firm’s summer associates program. This summer, the firm has brought its six summer associates into its office.

“We felt it was important for our clerks to be in the office a little bit so they’d understand our culture and how the firm works,” said Jim Johnson, who co-heads Swift Currie’s summer program with another partner, Beth Wilson.

Johnson and Wilson explain that even though summer associates are in the office, most interactions with each other and the firm’s lawyers have been virtual.

To ensure safe social distancing, the firm has divided its four floors into 15 zones, each with entry points and restrooms. Lawyers and staff are required to stay within their zones, so even when people are in the office, a lot of their interactions are still remote.

The firm paired summer associates in zones, so they’d each have a buddy, Wilson said. Summer associates work in an office with the door shut and wear masks when they’re in their zone’s common areas. Break rooms are closed and everyone brings their own lunch. On their first day at Swift Currie, all six of the law students met in person with Wilson and Johnson in the firm’s largest training room, which holds 200 people, but everyone sat at separate tables.

They’ve also had an in-person meetings with several partners and convene every Friday for lunch — all in the training room at separate tables. “We talk really loud,” Wilson said. Otherwise, their interactions with partners have been via Zoom.

Swift Currie canceled in-person social events that are ordinarily an important part of the program because of safety concerns. “We’ve encouraged them to bond with each other over their research assignments instead,”Johnson said.

Subscribers to the Daily Report may access the full article here.

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