Law Firms Should Foster Career Skills, Not Drinking Skills, Expert Says

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A career expert has some advice for law firms running summer associate programs: Spend less money on late-night parties and more on training and mentoring programs.

Writing for the National Law Journal, Lauren Stiller Rikleen said she has heard too many tales of summer associates who feel pressured to attend after-event parties where the alcohol flows freely. Law students who want to secure an offer for a $160,000 full-time job after graduation don’t want to miss out on the chance for socializing and don’t want to be labeled as “not being fun,” she says.

But the parties foster uncomfortable situations, says Rikleen, the author of Ending the Gauntlet: Removing Barriers to Women’s Success in the Law. The pressure to drink isn’t the only problem. “Summer associates report an atmosphere that seems to condone inappropriate comments and sexual overtures,” she says.

Rikleen says law firms need to develop clear rules for personal conduct, communicate them to associates and partners, and enforce a zero-tolerance policy for violations. They should also stop funding after-event parties, she says.

“Firms that foster career-building skills over drinking skills are sure to have an advantage in the fiercely competitive recruitment of the talented millennial generation graduating law school today,” she concludes.

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