Law Students/Summer Law Clerks

Willkie summer associates 2019

We understand that choosing the right firm involves factors beyond the breadth and quality of practice.


The level of responsibility given to associates, the opportunities for professional development, the commitment to diversity and public service, and the ability to form lasting relationships are all equally important

We pride ourselves on focusing on each of these factors. Our culture emphasizes giving associates real responsibility from the outset – which we think provides the best professional development opportunities. We bolster that with real-time feedback and an extensive program of in-house training presentations. We have a demonstrated commitment to diversity, and we maintain an award-winning pro bono program. And we foster relationships through mentoring programs with active and engaged mentors, on- and off-site social gatherings, and an overall atmosphere that places a premium on collaboration.

This broad focus begins with our summer program. The summer includes a comprehensive orientation program that brings together summer law clerks from our New York, Houston, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Washington D.C. offices, interactive training through Mock Negotiation Seminar, a Presentation Skills Workshop and a Mock Arbitration Seminar, and additional formal training seminars . All of this complements the hands-on training summer law clerks receive as fully functioning team members on the matters assigned to them. Summer law clerks can also participate in week-long externships with public service organizations and are otherwise involved in our pro bono program. And we encourage summer law clerks to begin building relationships through cultural and social events throughout the summer.

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Training Programs


Our commitment to professional development begins with the summer program.  The training available to summer law clerks includes:

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Summer Law Clerk Orientation

We begin the summer with a comprehensive orientation program on topics ranging from firm economics to the nuts and bolts of the assigning system and practical tips on how to succeed as a summer law clerk.

As part of orientation, all summers associates from our domestic offices are invited to our New York office and have the opportunity to hear directly from the Firm’s Chairs about the current state and future of the firm.

Mock Arbitration Seminar

Over the course of several weeks, summer law clerks participate in a mock arbitration seminar. They work in teams on developing legal theories, drafting opening and closing arguments, and crafting direct and cross-examinations of witnesses. The summer law clerks then try the case in a mock arbitration with litigation partners presiding as the arbitrators. The workshop culminates in a luncheon with the partners declaring a “winner” and providing insight into how they reached their decisions.

Corporate Negotiation Seminar

Summer law clerks participate in a unique transactional training program in which they negotiate a corporate merger. With the guidance of a partner advisor, summer law clerks learn to analyze the legal and commercial issues in the deal, conduct due diligence, and then negotiate the transaction. The seminar concludes with a morning of negotiations mediated by senior transactional attorneys followed by an “outcome” luncheon where each team recaps the day’s activities and the results of the negotiation are presented.

Presentation Skills Workshop

This interactive workshop is designed to provide summer law clerks with best practices in effective presentation and communication skills. In small group settings, an external consultant offers tips, strategies and advice to summer law clerks on their presentation skills and helps get summer law clerks client-ready. Small teams of summer law clerks are assigned presentation topics and work with Partner/Counsel coaches to refine their presentation. Teams must make final presentations at the end of the workshop.

Practice Area Previews

Partners and associates in each of the Firm’s practice groups host departmental overviews to give summer law clerks a comprehensive overview of each of our practices.

In-house Training Programs

Weekly in-house training seminars are held as part of Willkie’s CLE and professional training program.  During the summer program, summer law clerks can participate in all of the ongoing programs.

Work Assignments and Overseas Rotations

Our summer law clerks are exposed to a range of projects and receive valuable hands-on experience working directly with our clients. In New York, the summer law clerks are encouraged to try different practice areas through our rotation system, including opportunities to work in our European offices. In the DC, Texas and California offices, summer law clerks work in particular practice areas. Our program is designed to offer all summer law clerks the same work assignments as a typical first-year associate would receive.



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Summer law clerk mentoring is central to our efforts to integrate new lawyers into the Firm.

Each summer law clerk is assigned to a team of partner and associate mentors who make introductions, help ease the transition from law school to practice, and otherwise provide guidance and support. Summer law clerks receive additional mentoring from the senior lawyers working with them, who make it a point to provide real-time feedback. To ensure that they receive comprehensive feedback, summer law clerks are formally reviewed twice during the summer in a process that mirrors the review process followed for full-time associates.

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Commitment to Service

We encourage everyone from senior partners to legal assistants to participate in public service and pro bono efforts and have dedicated over 100,000 pro bono hours in the past several years alone to organizations such as The Legal Aid Society, the Innocence Project, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee. We also maintain full-time associate externships at MFY Legal Services Inc. and Her Justice Inc.

Our commitment to public service and pro bono work extends to the summer program. In New York, summer law clerks have the opportunity to participate in one-week externships. Aside from these externships, we actively encourage all summer law clerks to participate in the Firm’s broader public service and pro bono efforts.


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Diversity and Inclusion

Willkie believes that everyone benefits from a diverse and inclusive workplace. To that end, we strive to hire lawyers with different backgrounds in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and culture.


Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee is central to these efforts and summer law clerks learn about the Committee immediately upon arrival. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee is involved in summer law clerk orientation, takes an active role in mentoring, hosts at least one summer event, and seeks to involve summer law clerks in our broader diversity and inclusiveness program.


Our Women’s Professional Development Committee (WPDC) also participates actively in the summer program. The WPDC typically hosts a networking event for summer law clerks, participates in mentoring, and includes summer law clerks in ongoing programming.

We reinforce all of this effort through partnerships with law-school affinity groups including APALSA, BLSA, LALSA, LAMBDA/OUTLAWS SALSA, and Women’s Law Associations sponsoring receptions, career nights, mock interview programs, moot court competitions, and seminars with these groups.

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