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Summer Associate Program

The goal of our summer program is to integrate our summer associates into our cases and into the life of the firm as much as possible over the few short weeks of summer. That way, you will understand our firm and our practice better, and we will get to know you, both as a person and as a lawyer. Like all of our lawyers, we expect that our summer associates will help us to meet the goals and expectations of our clients. In particular, summer associates assist partners and associates with research and writing assignments that help us to advise our clients, to develop litigation strategies and to file court papers. In addition, summer associates often draft pleadings and motions that the attorneys are able to refine and present to a client or file in court.

As the summer progresses, you can expect to work with a number of attorneys on a variety of issues, with increasingly challenging assignments and opportunities. We also encourage our attorneys to invite summer associates to take part in various stages of advocacy: strategy sessions, client meetings, depositions, and hearings. Through these experiences you will learn more about the practice of law and develop a better sense of what life is like as a Zelle attorney.

Typically, you will be assigned a mentor to help guide you through your summer at Zelle. Your mentor can answer questions, review your drafts, provide advice and suggestions, and help to make certain your experience at the firm is enlightening, comfortable and fun.

The practice of law is a great personal challenge, particularly in the area of complex litigation, and we believe we need the support of one another to make it fun as well as rewarding. We expect that our partners and associates will get to know you (and you will get to know them) through experiences outside the office. Through lunches, parties and dinners at the attorneys’ homes, sporting events, and other activities, you will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the people who make Zelle such an engaging and inviting place to work.

The Recruiting Process

Each August we assess our needs for the following summer and establish a target number of summer associates. Given the small number of positions available, as well as the nature of the work we do, we are extremely selective. We limit our search to candidates who are interested in litigation, and we focus our efforts on those with a proven record of academic achievement and a personal background that demonstrates creativity, drive and passion.

As litigators, we value those applicants who have outstanding verbal skills and present themselves effectively in person. As a result, interviews are an important part of the process. We also need lawyers with the superlative writing skills that allow them to convey complicated arguments to the courts in a compelling manner.

If you are a first or second year student interested in a clerkship, you may submit a resume and cover letter requesting an interview.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Summer Associates do not have a billable hour requirement, and we do not expect you to be workhorses during your time with us.  However, we do want the experience to be beneficial and realistic. Your typical day will be approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If a case demands it, you may occasionally work with the attorneys beyond normal business hours, staying late on a weeknight or coming to the office on a weekend. Those instances will be rare, but are important because they give valuable insights into the demands of the profession and the camaraderie we share. At the end of the summer, we want to know what can be expected from you as an associate, and we want you to know what you can expect from us as a firm. 

Our summer associate salaries are revised each year and are competitive in each of the markets where our offices are located.

Your office arrangements will mirror those of an associate at the firm. Each summer associate is given a private office (the majority with outside views). You will have a desktop computer in your office and access to a laptop computer if needed. You will receive training on all office systems, polices and procedures.                                                          

A typical summer stay is 12 weeks, but the length and exact timing is negotiable.  We would like you to start in late May or early June and stay with us until sometime in August. The summer program in our Dallas office usually lasts six weeks (starting at the end of May).

We have a "business casual" dress code throughout the year.

Immediately following the departure of the summer associates, we gather input from all attorneys in the office and make the hiring decisions.   Our goal is to contact you with a decision by early September.  

Since 1995, we have offered associate positions to approximately 80 percent of our second-year summer associates.

If you would like to be a candidate for our summer program, please contact the Recruiting Partner for the office in which you are interested:

Please also feel free to contact our Diversity Coordinator Kristin Suga Heres, with any questions you may have.

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