How will the Coronavirus affect summer associate positions and clerkships?

How will the coronavirus affect summer associate positions and clerkships?

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many law firms and courts are closing their doors at the moment. This leaves students who have accepted a summer associate position or clerkship uncertain about their summer plans.

UPDATE 4/8/20: Some law firms are delaying summer associate’s start dates to June. Read more about it here.

How will the coronavirus affect summer associate positions and clerkships?

For those wondering how the coronavirus will affect summer associate positions and clerkships, the short and real answer is: it is likely no one knows!

The world is uncertain right now. Events are getting canceled left and right, and whole states are being put on lockdown. This includes many law firms and courts. For example, Michigan courts have limited activity to essential functions.

What might happen?

At this time, it’s all speculation as to what might happen.

We hope summer associate positions and clerkships do not get canceled, but that is always a possibility.

Firms and courts could decide to start the jobs later, in effect shortening the work time.

Or, all work could be moved to remote and start as planned. Some people posted online that firms have emailed associates saying they will not rescind offers, and there may be remote work done. Thus, it seems that big law firms are continuing with their summer associate programs everything will go as planned.

Plus, social events—like lunches and meetings with all the firm—could be canceled or changed up due to the coronavirus. Right now there is a ban on gatherings, but this could be lifted by the time you start your job.

It is likely that courts and firms are not making a decision at this time, and want to wait and see how things progress with the coronavirus.

What should I do?

If you have not received communication from the court or firm you are planning to work for, reach out to them. It is likely that they are swamped right now and dealing with a lot, but it doesn’t hurt to ask! Make sure not to demand a response right away, and do not expect a quick reply. Things are uncertain for everyone and since most positions do not begin for a couple of months, firms are unlikely to make a very early decision unless they have to.

It is always difficult to not be in the office but still know what is happening. Thus, if you have a relationship with someone who is working at the same firm or court right now, ask them if they have heard anything or have any insight on what is going on.

What can keep everyone’s mind at ease is that the legal field is still needed, even in these times. Work may be shifted because of the pandemic—possibly the type of law practiced, and the way law is practiced. However, the work should be there.

Wondering how the coronavirus might impact law school graduation? Check out our post!

Also, if you are interested in how the coronavirus will impact the bar exam, you can read JD Advising’s input here.

You can also sign up for our free early bar prep tips here! We will include coronavirus updates in the early bar prep tips—so you will be the first to know any important updates!

In the meantime, we have some great tips on how to pay attention in online law school classes. (If you need help with law school classes/finals, we are here for you! JD Advising offers law school tutoring virtually. You will get the same experience as being in person and the same materials!)


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    This is a great question that unfortunately we do not have a firm answer to. It is not yet known how the coronavirus will impact the job landscape but it will likely be impacted in some way. We encourage you to still apply to jobs and discuss how each firm you interview with is able to navigate the restrictions in place. By May or June, life may begin to return to normal or employers may have mastered working from home by then in order to hire new associates to do the same. It is mostly a wait-and-see approach that will differ with each law firm and according to each state’s restrictions. As for swearing-in ceremonies, some state bars have already announced that they will host these over video conference. Check with your specific state bar to see if or what their alternate plans may be.



    What do you think the impact will be on people searching for jobs once they have passed the February 2020 bar? For that matter, do you think swearing in ceremonies will be different?

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