What Exactly Is a Split Summer?

By: Brittany Swett, J.D.

A new trend known as the “split summer” is gaining popularity among large law firms across the country. Despite the growing popularity of the split summer, a lot of law students and legal professionals have never heard of it. Today at PSJD, we are taking a quick look at what a split summer is and what some of the benefits and drawbacks are.

What a Split Summer Is:

Split summers come in a variety of forms. Most commonly, a split summer allows a law student who has secured a summer associate position for their 2L summer to spend the first half of the summer working at a law firm and the second half of the summer working for a nonprofit organization. Under this basic model, the law firm will then continue to pay the salary of the summer associate during the second half of the summer while they are at a non-profit. Some firms have taken this basic idea and added their own twist. Firms may require that the summer associate remain at the law firm for more than half of the summer and spend less time at the non-profit. Others have specific requirements about the non-profit chosen by the summer associate, while still others will only pay the summer associate for the time spent working at the firm. Each program is unique, but overall there are benefits and drawbacks to consider regarding a summer split.

Benefits to Splitting Your Summer:

Splitting a summer allows for a law student who is torn between the private sector and non-profit world to explore careers in both. The law student still gets to complete a summer associateship and enjoy all the benefits that come along with doing so, such as writing experience, the salary, professional contacts, and a potential offer at the end of the summer. In addition, the student gets to explore the non-profit sector, potentially working more closely with the public and for a cause they feel passionately about. In addition, if the student is someone who likes new experiences, two jobs in a short time span will keep them on their toes. Split summers also allow for a student to make a larger number of professional contacts in both fields. In addition, some split summer programs allow for their summer associates to work in two different cities over the course of the summer.

Drawbacks to Splitting Your Summer:

While eight or ten weeks can sound like a long time, it will fly by. One potential drawback of a split summer could be that the student is spreading themselves too thin. It may be more difficult to gain all the benefits of the experience at a law firm or at a non-profit organization if the student only spends a short time at each. In addition, forming meaningful professional connections with employees at each place may be more difficult due to the shortened length of time. Additionally, some law firms will give summer associates the time off to work at a non-profit, but will not compensate the summer associate for this time. Finally, the non-profit law world is also becoming more competitive in terms of job placement after graduation. If a law student knows that this is the field that they ultimately want to go into, spending a full summer at an organization ultimately may be more beneficial.

The split summer is an interesting new trend definitely worth exploring. To further research specific split summer programs, visit PSJD’s resource guide.

Sources:

https://law.yale.edu/student-life/career-development/students/career-guides-advice/what-are-firm-sponsored-split-public-interest-summers

http://hls.harvard.edu/content/uploads/2008/06/pi-summers.pdf

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