While many law firms canceled summer associate programs or limited them to
online-only because of COVID-19, McGuireWoods designed a successful program
that provided summer associates with safe, valuable in-person and remote
work and social experiences — a program recently profiled by
The American Lawyer.
McGuireWoods welcomed 41 top law students from 28 schools — its largest and
most diverse class — to 12 different offices. The firm called every
associate to ask whether they were comfortable working at the firm’s
offices or preferred to participate remotely. With strict safety measures
confirmed, 36 opted to participate in the office. Having an in-office
option was important, especially since many students already were dealing
with isolation after their law school semesters abruptly went remote.
Though the summer program was shortened to five weeks due to the
coronavirus, the 2020 class gained valuable experience through training
seminars, substantive work assignments and insight into McGuireWoods’
departments and industry teams. Summer associates worked across practice
areas, allowing them to broaden their knowledge in different areas of
interest. They also bonded through virtual trivia nights, happy hours and
socially distanced in-person events that helped them build long-term
This year’s rising 3L students all received associate job offers to join
the firm in the fall of 2021, and the rising 2L students received offers to
participate in the 2021 summer program.
The firm typically holds an annual summer conference in Washington. D.C.,
for its summer associates, but could not do so this year. Instead, managing
J. Tracy Walker IV traveled to the 12 offices that hosted summer associates to connect with
each of the students and went fly fishing with one student who participated
The American Lawyer
Aug. 27, 2020, story highlighted the firm’s focus on finding ways to engage with law school
students during the pandemic.
Summer associate Noriya Shahadat, who chose to work from the Richmond
office, told The American Lawyer that for her, the personal
interaction made the program especially rewarding. Masked and socially
distanced, “conversations were deeper and more intentional than they had
been in the past,” said Shahadat, who was a summer associate with
McGuireWoods in 2019 as well.
Chicago partner and national recruiting committee chair
Angelo Russo told The American Lawyer that ensuring the program’s success
required an enormous recruiting team effort.
“Nothing was easy in this period,” he said. “But summer associates are the
lifeblood of the firm and the next generation, and we want to show them how we rally as a family.”