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All that hard work paid off and now, you’re gearing up for a summer internship with the law firm of your dreams. Before you get too settled, says A. Harrison Barnes, attorney, career coach and founder of, you need to start thinking about how you’re going to land a full time job next year. And in order to do that, you need to have a good idea of what your partners are noticing about you. It’s never too early, but it’s up to you to decide if you leave a good impression or if they can’t wait for your internship to wrap up so they can bid you a final goodbye.

Long before you ever garner any interest from the head honchoes in your skills as a legal contender, you’re going to want to make a good impression with your people skills. This means you need to have the ability to get along with your co-workers and the firm’s clients. You need to have filters and the common sense to understand that just because it’s on your mind, it doesn’t have to be on your tongue. Yes – that counts. And yes – it makes a huge difference; a firm would rather have a recent law school graduate with a 3.8 GPA and manners than one who graduates at the top of his class but has no concept of biting his tongue, says A. Harrison Barnes.

Another important “must have”, says the founder, is the ability of an intern to know partying all night and showing up the next morning with the stamped ink on your hand and smelling of stale cigarettes and booze is not acceptable. Before you think to yourself, “Duh…that’s common sense”, that’s what we thought too. You’d be amazed, though, at how many approach their internships with the “I’m here on time…my mission is completed”. That’s one sure fire way of not receiving a job offer.

Barnes says the best interns are those who want to know everything. They take nothing for granted. They want to know why a partner chose a particular strategy, they want to know where the ink cartridges are and they want to know how the filing system works.  “That’s the difference in an exceptional young attorney and one who leaves no evidence of his ever having interned at a firm”.

Finally, Barnes says all legal firms appreciate those who believe they represent their employer at all times. For some firms, the intern who remains aware of how his actions affect other aspects of his life are the ones who will be solid leaders in the legal sector they ultimately choose – and those are the ones who will always remain in big demand, recession or no.

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