Internships, Externships, Careers, Oh My!

Lowell_Brooke EDespite Williamsburg’s moderate geographic size, there are tons of opportunities to find internships and externships in the area. Even better, the easy drive to Richmond, Norfolk, and even Washington, D.C. significantly expands the firms, organizations, and government programs that students have the chance to work with while in law school! [Read more…]

Summer Associate Program at Kaufman & Canoles, P.C.

BennyBy Benny Zhang, Class of 2020

One of the perennial questions law students confront during their brief tenure in law school is how to make use of our degrees. Does one seek to be a corporate lawyer, or rather a public defender or prosecutor? This is often amplified for first-year law students with the Office of Career Services’ proactive and mandatory career sessions early on in our first semester. While some of us begin law school knowing with upmost certainty our specific career path, most of us strive to explore many options in hopes of finding an answer. Working as a summer associate is just one of these opportunities for students to find their path. This past summer, I worked as a 1L summer associate with Kaufman & Canoles, P.C in its Williamsburg branch.

What is a Summer Associate?

Summer associate programs offer a survey into legal practice at a particular firm. Typically offered to 1Ls and 2Ls, summer associates are paid positions that expose you to a firm’s workplace culture and it’s legal practice. The pay varies among firms, but is similar to market rate for an associate’s salary. More significantly, it is an opportunity for both you the student and the firm to assess a good fit. According to my branch’s managing partner, “[I]t is typical for a firm to take upwards of two or three years to train newly hire associates.” Following this logic, summer associates who are offered a position have already begun their training with the law firm.

The Kaufman & Canoles, P.C. summer associate program typically lasts for eight weeks in one of several branches; though I worked solely in the Williamsburg branch, my classmate worked in both the Norfolk and Newport News offices. I also benefited from two assigned mentors,  Dustin DeVore, a hard-charging former Marine, and Erin Deal Johnson, a perennial workhorse. At Kaufman & Canoles, these mentors are most usually a partner and an associate.

Equally important to the experience is the exposure to the idea of work-life balance; I quickly learned that the KaufCan life is not a typical 9-5 job. On any given Sunday afternoon, a panicked corporate client may send an email and expect an immediate answer. One of my mentors regularly worked until 9:00 PM most weeknights. Virginia state Senator Thomas Norment is still active in his legal practice at Kaufman & Canoles, and I often joined him working on the weekends. Despite the time and energy we devote to our elected duties on the weekdays, the legal work must still be accomplished. [Read more…]