Jennifer Paul’s Top 5 Summer Clerk Tips

By: Jennifer C. Paul, Condemnation & Unconstitutional Takings and Litigation Attorney

Tip #1 – Treat your supervising attorneys as “clients.”

Depending on your clerkship, you may have varying levels of actual client exposure. In Saalfeld Griggs’ clerk program, we give clerks the opportunity to sit in on client meetings and court hearings when appropriate. Regardless of the level of exposure you have to actual clients, you will have exposure to the attorneys you are working with. You should make it a practice to treat those attorneys like clients.

Give your supervising attorney what a client would expect and want – timely responses, appropriate questions, demonstrate that you understand what you are being asked to do, be considerate of their time, provide high-quality work (as if it was going directly to a client) and follow up.

Tip #2 – Get to know the legal assistants.

Often, legal assistants will know more than new attorneys and clerks. Legal assistants usually have the answers you are looking for, or they know where to find the answers you seek. The legal assistants usually know the ins and outs of the firm and can give the inside scoop on most everything. Treat legal assistants with deference, and as the valuable resource they are. Find out what they like and bring them treats.

Tip #3 – Use your clerkship to learn about the firm.

A clerkship isn’t just about the firm trying you on for size, it’s also about you trying the firm on for size. You should use your clerkship to learn about the firm and determine if it’s a place you want to work.

What’s the firm’s culture like? What is the environment like? If you don’t take the time to socialize with folks you just won’t learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, like how is the firm structured, what is the billable hour requirement for new attorneys, and whether the firm tracks origination.

Tip #4 – Attend the “extras.”

This goes hand-in-hand with learning about the firm. When you’re invited to a marketing event or happy hour—go. Throughout the course of the summer, Saalfeld Griggs hosts a variety of events, which clerks are invited to attend. Of note, the Associate Summer Social, the firm-wide summer picnic, monthly associate breakfasts, and many other marketing events and happy hours. Attending the “extras” demonstrates dedication to and an interest in the firm on your part, and these extra events are when you can truly observe firm culture.

Tip #5 – Participate in a clerkship, period.

Even if you don’t end up in Saalfeld Griggs’ clerkship program, a clerkship is still the best way to gain practical skills that you will actually use as an attorney. Participating in a clerkship is one of the best ways to determine what you like and don’t like about different areas of law. Clerking will help you get a job post-graduation, and simply put, it makes you marketable.

Jennifer Paul is a partner in Saalfeld Griggs PC’s Litigation Practice Group and a member of the firm’s Law Clerk Committee. Saalfeld Griggs regularly hires summer law clerks and offers part-time clerkship opportunities. For more information, please contact Jenny Lucas at, or check out the firm’s Careers page for current openings.