August 31, 2020
The American Lawyer profiled McGuireWoods’ summer associate program in an Aug. 27, 2020, story about the firm’s focus on finding ways to engage with law school students during the coronavirus pandemic. While many Big Law firms canceled or made their summer programs online-only, McGuireWoods offered students the chance to participate in a shortened five-week program onsite or remotely.
Chicago partner and national recruiting committee chair Angelo Russo, chief legal talent officer J.D. Neary and lateral partner recruiting director Tamara Fairhurst called each of the 41 summer associates to ask whether they were comfortable working at the firm’s offices or if they preferred to participate remotely. With strict safety measures confirmed, 36 of the 41 summer associates opted to participate in the office.
Offering the option for face-to-face interaction was important for the summer experience, the article noted, especially since many law students already were dealing with isolation after their semesters abruptly went remote. According to Russo, McGuireWoods endeavored to craft a program that ensured there would be as little a difference as possible between the in-person and virtual summer associate experience.
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 last year as well.
Another change in this year’s program was the absence of an annual Washington, D.C., conference for all summer associates. The fix? McGuireWoods managing partner J. Tracy Walker IV traveled to the 12 offices that hosted summer associates to connect with each of the students.
Ensuring the success of the hybrid summer program involved a huge recruiting team effort. “Nothing was easy in this period,” Russo said of overcoming COVID-19 challenges. “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.”