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by Vault Law Editors | March 06, 2019


When you are a law student, navigating the law firm recruiting process can be overwhelming. The interview process resembles speed dating more than a job hunt. Law firms all start to look the same after a while. And let’s not forget the hospitality suite—an introvert’s nightmare. At the end of the process, you’re rewarded with the opportunity to do even more interviews at the firm, and finally, if you really shine, you will join a summer associate program, which is probably unlike any summer internship you’ve ever had (unless your prior employers brought you on a hiking trip in Italy, to the ESPYS, or to Hamilton as one of your bonding activities like some top firms have done).

There truly is nothing like the law firm recruiting process. And that’s why our team has worked hard to create a comprehensive guide to support you from interview prep all the way through your time as a summer. Hot off the presses—The Vault Guide to Summer Associate Interviewing and Top-Ranked Programs (2019 edition) is available both as an ebook and in print. (Check with your law school career services office for your login to access the guide online or to obtain your own hard copy! Many students have free access through their schools.)

Featuring leading firms like Covington & Burling, Weil, and Latham, the guide includes everything from real law firm interview questions to Vault’s summer program rankings to detailed profiles of the top-ranked summer programs. Read on for more details on how this guide can help you research and land your ideal summer gig.

Expert Advice

Vault’s summer guide includes insights from partners and recruiting professionals from top law firms like Kirkland & Ellis, O’Melveny, White & Case and more. As a former law student and summer associate, I remember how confusing the summer process can be, which is why we included a broad range of advice on such topics as,

  • Summer associate job search.
  • Resume and cover letter advice.
  • Summer associate interview tips.
  • Summer associate interview questions (featuring real questions from Vault’s top-ranked summer firms).
  • Summer associate experience.


As part of our Annual Associate Survey, we ask junior associates (first year through third year) who participated in their current firm’s summer associate program to to reflect back on their summer program experiences and rate the summer program. From those ratings, we rank the best summer associate programs in four categories, including:

  • The Overall Best Summer Associate Program.
  • Attorney Interactions.
  • Career Development.
  • Fun and Events.

Vault’s top ten 2019 Best Overall Summer Programs were

#1 O’Melveny & Myers LLP
#2 Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP
#3 Crowell & Moring LLP
#4 Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
#5 Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC
#6 White & Case LLP
#7 Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
#8 Clifford Chance US LLP
#9 Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
#10 Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobsen LLP

Check out the guide to see what other firms made the cut for the top 50 Best Overall Summer Programs and which firms topped the list for our other three rankings.

Firm Profiles (Including Associate Quotes)

Some of the best resources when researching law firms are the associates within a firm. They provide insight into what it is really like to work at the firm and can relate to your situation because they went through the same interview process. In this guide, we include detailed profiles for firms with top-ranked programs, and each profile includes associate quotes relating to training and assignments, social scene, and associate experience versus summer expectations, as well as associates’ choices for the best summer event.

In addition to associate quotes, the profiles include

  • A recap of all of the firm’s recent Vault rankings.
  • Firm stats, such as number of attorneys and firm leadership.
  • Summer associate compensation information.
  • Offices with a summer program.
  • Summer program parameters, including program length, whether practice areas are assigned, office split opportunities, and whether there are 1L summer positions.
  • A sampling of practice areas available to summer associates at the firm.
  • Data on how many summers the firm has had and how many have received offers for the past three years.
  • An overview of the summer program in the firm’s words.

Each profile also features Vault Says, which is our editorial summary of the general tenor of associate comments relating to the particular firm, including with regard to the firm’s hiring process, summer program, culture, and associate life.

These comprehensive profiles provide the perfect starting point for researching summer associate programs. You can quickly understand the basics of each firm’s program and dig into associate perspectives on the experience. Also, at the back of the guide, you will find detailed charts that compare all of the top-ranked firms as to Summer Program Data, Offers, and Rankings.

Vault Law 100 and Best Law Firms to Work For

Researching your target firms’ summer programs is an important aspect of selecting the firm that best meets your career goals. But it is also critical to consider your long-term career at the firm beyond the summer program. For that reason, we included our rankings for the 2019 Vault Law 100 and the 2019 Best Law Firms to Work For in the summer guide. We also shared the Vault’s Verdict for each ranked firm. The verdict is an editorial summary of the general tenor of associate comments for that firm from Vault’s Annual Associate Survey. These snapshots will give you a brief sense of what it is like to work at these top law firms and provide a starting point for deeper research.

Selecting target summer programs, navigating the summer interview process, and succeeding as a summer associate are critical first steps in your legal career. The Vault Guide to Summer Associate Interviewing and Summer Programs aims to make all of these processes easier and gives you expert guidance and detailed information so that you feel more prepared and confident.

Get your copy now! Many law students have free access to this guide and other premium Vault content for free—check with your career services office to see if they partner with Vault.

And if you have any remaining questions about the interview process or summer associate programs, reach out to Vault at any time. We are always happy to cover topics that matter to you on our law blog. (You can reach Vault’s Senior Law Editor Mary Kate Sheridan at