Summer associates praise their 'lifestyle firms,' even as some midlevels describe them as 'veritable sweatshops'

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Summer associates liked their law firm experience this year, as they insisted that their workplaces were different—in a good way.

Most law firms received scores above 4.5 out of five in ratings by the 5,485 associates surveyed by for its 2022 Summer Associates Satisfaction Survey.

“Firms described as veritable sweatshops by a portion of their midlevels each year were lauded for being ‘lifestyle firms’ by the summers they hosted,” reports. “Even summers who landed at prestigious firms with high billable expectations remarked that they weren’t filled with ‘gunners.’”

Seven out of eight summer associates in the class of 2023 said they would accept offers from their law firms, 73% expected to have a career at their law firms, and nearly three-fourths said they thought that their firms cared about their mental health.

Associates usually liked their law firm retreats. Among the more unusual offerings: Cooley associates spent four days at the Seascape Beach Resort in Monterey Bay, California; O’Melveny & Myers associates went on a VIP trip to Disneyland; and DLA Piper associates went aboard a partner’s yacht for a sailing trip.

The associates were asked to rate their firms based on partner access and mentorship, interactions with other associates, interesting legal work, and their firms’ alignment with their goals and self-image.

Above the Law highlighted the firms that received that received the highest ratings in the survey. The top five spots went to:

    1.) Blank Rome and Duane Morris, each with an average score 5.000. More than 96% of Blank Rome summer associates responded to the survey, while more than 66% of the Duane Morris summers responded.

    3.) Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, with an average score 4.993. More than 94% of its summers responded to the survey.

    4.) Paul Hastings, with an average score 4.980. Only 23% of its summers responded to the survey.

    5.) O’Melveny & Myers, with an average score 4.977. More than 90% of its summers responded to the survey.

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