Klarissa Jeiel: Where Law Meets Design

Meeting with Summer and Articling Students or Junior Lawyers

Take the stress out of meeting with summer and articling students or junior lawyers. Read this guide that includes how to set up and prepare for the meeting.

This is an article in a series of articles called Your Ultimate Guide to Law Student Recruitment Don’t forget to read the previous article here: Big Law vs. Mid Size vs. Small Law Firm?


If you’re thinking of participating in the 1L recruit or the articling recruit, meeting with summer and articling students or junior lawyers at the firms you’re interested in is incredibly important. Most of the time, you can only truly get to know a firm when you talk to the people who work there so if you’re doing your initial research on which firms to apply to and you don’t quite know what sets a firm apart from the others (maybe their websites all sound the same or they offer the same services and practice areas), then reach out to one of their summer or articling students to get a sense of what the firm is really all about.

Even if you’ve decided on which firms to apply to during the law school recruit, it can still be helpful to meet with someone from the firm because it really helps you stand out and can give you a competitive advantage over other applicants. When you meet with someone at the firm, it shows initiative. It shows that you’re truly interested in the firm because you’re making an effort to get to know their members. It also helps the firm make a decision about hiring you. Generally, firms will ask their members when it comes time to make a decision about who they’re going to hire if they’ve heard of an applicant and if they think that applicant is a good fit for the firm, etc. The more you reach out and talk to people, the more they will remember you and potentially put in a good word for you like “oh yeah, i went out for coffee with student A and they seem like a great fit for our firm.”

Setting up the Meeting

Reach out to someone you already know or have talked to at one of the networking events and ask them to meet with you. You can do this in person, by phone or by email. If you don’t know anyone, look at websites of firms you’re interested in and look for someone you’d like to talk to and send that person an email to set up a date and time to meet either virtually or in person. Generally, you want to talk to summer or articling students first because their experiences will best reflect what you will experience if you come to start working there. You can ask them about their workload, what they do on a daily basis, what kind of practice areas they get exposure to, etc. But you may also want to consider talking to junior lawyers if there are limited or no students available. For example, at a smaller firm where they may not hire students every year, there will likely be a junior lawyer instead who can answer some of your questions and give you some insights on what working at the firm is like.

Preparing for the Meeting

Once you’ve got a meeting set up, it’s time to start preparing for it. And yes, you should prepare for meeting with someone at the firm like this no matter how informal. If your goal is to eventually get a job at the firm, you want to put your best foot forward.

1. Do research on the firm

Go to the firm’s website. Look at their homepage. Look at what their practice areas are. Read their latest blogs or news announcements. Take note of basic information about the firm like where they are located, are they big/mid/small in size, how many lawyers they have, etc. View their student page, if they have one, to see how many students they hire what their student program is like (e.g. is there a formal rotation or informal rotation for articling students?). The goal is to have a general sense of the firm before meeting with someone who works there because the purpose of meeting with a student or junior lawyer is to get to know the firm on a deeper level, not surface level. And you should be coming to the meeting already knowing certain information about the firm. A general guideline is that you should know anything on a firm’s website. You shouldn’t ask a question in a meeting that is publicly available and easily accessible online.

2. Do research on the person you’re meeting with

Before even meeting with someone, you should already be gathering information about them. Start with their firm’s website. Articling students (definitely) and summer students (sometimes) will have their own page on a law firm’s website with a short biography. Take note of their background and educational history (where are they from? Where did they go to school?). Figure out what areas they practice and find some common ground between you and them. Maybe they’ve listed certain hobbies they like to do in their free time whether that’s sports or cooking or whatever else. You can use those as ice breakers or conversation starters during the meeting to just get to know the person before asking about the firm and their experience working there.

3. Compile a list of questions to ask

Once you’ve done your research on both the firm and the person you’re meeting with, try to come up with a list of questions that you’re going to ask during the meeting. Now, the work that you’ve done previously on research is really going to define this part of your preparation. So make a list of questions that have not been answered by either the firm’s website or the person’s bio. Here is a list of questions to help you get started:

  1. What drew you to a big/mid/small sized firm?
  2. Why this firm? How did you come to work here?
  3. What would you say sets your firm apart from the others?
  4. What is the best and worst thing about working here?
  5. How many students is your firm hiring this year?
  6. Do you have billable targets?
  7. What kind of work do students do? Do they get to do any client-facing work?
  8. How often do you work after hours and on the weekends?
  9. What does a typical day look like for you as a summer/articling student?
  10. How is your workload?
  11. How do you receive work/files?
  12. How does your student program work?
  13. What kind of resources do you have at the firm to help you with your work?
  14. How do you find the lawyers at this firm? Are they approachable? Willing to entertain questions?
  15. How do you assess your performance? Are there performance reviews? How often?
  16. What’s been the most interesting file/work project you’ve had?
  17. What’s the most challenging part of being a summer/articling student?
  18. Do you know what area of law you’d like to practice in?
  19. Does this firm have any diversity initiatives or pro bono work?
  20. I read that you do ___________ in your bio. Can you tell me more about that?

During the Meeting

If the meeting is in person over coffee, arrive early and wait for the person you’re meeting with to arrive before buying anything. Chances are, they will treat you to a coffee because they know you’re a poor law student barely scraping by in this economy (and also because most firms have a marketing budget to spend for exactly this kind of thing). If the meeting is virtual, log on a few minutes early and test your audio/video to avoid any delays. Remember, the person you’re meeting with might have billable targets to meet and be very busy so their time is precious. When the other person arrives, introduce yourself and make small talk. Get to know the person but try to avoid interrogating them. Keep it conversational. This is where your research will come in handy. Talk about their hobbies/interests. Connect with them. If they bring something up during the conversation, get them to elaborate or build on their story. Then, share something interesting about you. This will make you memorable. It’s okay to deviate from your list of questions but also be mindful of their time and make sure that you still manage to ask the important questions to get to know the firm and whether it’s a good fit for you. At the end, don’t forget to thank them for their time.

After the Meeting

Once the meeting is over, send the person you spoke to a thank you email. Ideally, right after or within a couple of hours after meeting with them and definitely within 24 hours. In the email, thank them again for their time, and tell them one thing you enjoyed or took out of the meeting. It would also be a good idea to ask for more connections in the email to reinforce your interest in the firm and show that you genuinely enjoyed the meeting. If you need help writing your thank you email, use this thank you email template that I created:

Subject Line: Thank You—Coffee/Phone Call/Video Call

Hi ______________,

I wanted to thank you again for taking some time off your busy schedule to meet with me over coffee/the phone/video.

I really enjoyed hearing about ________________________________ and I appreciate your insight on_______________________________.

I would love to hear more about others’ experience at the firm. Is there another summer/articling student or junior lawyer that you might be able to connect me with to get more diverse perspectives?

Thank you and I hope to have another opportunity to speak with you again soon. Have a great day.

Kind regards,


Meeting with summer and articling students is an important aspect of the law student recruit. No matter what stage of the process you are in (whether at the beginning or well into the middle) you should consider networking with other people. It will not only help you decide where to apply if you don’t know that already but also help you stand out and be remembered when it comes time for firms to make the difficult decision of choosing which student(s) to hire out of a pool of equally qualified candidates. Plus, there’s no harm in making more connections, especially in the legal field. So set up those meetings, be prepared by doing your research and having a list of questions ready, and end on a solid note with a thank you email. Future you will thank you!

This is an article in a series of articles called Your Ultimate Guide to Law Student Recruitment.

Next article: Building Your Law Student Recruit Application Package

Previous article: Big Law vs. Mid Size vs. Small Law Firm?

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