Summer Associates Program

Program Overview

Smith Debnam has developed a summer associate program that provides law students an opportunity to take their legal education beyond the classroom through hands-on experience and insight into the actual practice of law. This opportunity is designed for candidates who will have completed their second year of law school and who desire to invest their subsequent summer in a challenging and instructional practice environment.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to know the attorneys and staff. The level of approachability among the people here is unlike anything I’ve experience in a workplace. One of my favorite parts of the experience was the fact that I wasn’t doing busy work. The projects assigned by the attorneys are key pieces of work product required for discovery, hearings, trials, and public speaking engagements. Every assignment I turned in made me feel like I contributed to the client’s case.”JEN, ELON UNIVERSITY

“I was very pleased to find how well the practitioners at Smith Debnam balanced professionalism with collegiality. They truly value the summer program, and use it not only as a recruiting tool, but are committed to teaching and mentoring the aspiring attorneys that come through the program.”BRIAN, CAMPBELL UNIVERSITY

Our program is structured such that each participant will engage in meaningful legal work supporting our attorneys within the diverse array of practice areas and clients at Smith Debnam. Summer associate assignments range from researching and preparing briefs, assisting with discovery requests or responses, and drafting complaints to attending mediations, court sessions, and client meetings – all in the context of active client matters. Our objective is to provide law students with significant exposure to a variety of practice specialties through direct participation in the activities and venues which comprise the legal representation of a client.

“My experience as a Summer Associate at Smith Debnam far exceeded my expectations. Not only was I able to observe many different aspects of the practice of law, in many different contexts, but I also was able to develop and improve practical skills that will help me throughout the remainder of my legal career”BRIAN, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

To guide participants through their summer experience, a specific attorney is assigned to mentor each law student. The mentor attorney monitors the quality and quantity of work assignments and provides important direction and consultation on carrying out assigned projects. They also facilitate performance feedback on every project assigned. Additionally, the mentor’s role is to provide an ongoing opportunity for students to engage in general discussion of broader legal industry and practice management topics.

“My summer experience at Smith Debnam taught me more about the practical aspects of practicing law than any other experience I have had since beginning law school. The attorneys really made the summer clerks feel like part of the family, and I know I will be a better lawyer because of my experience at Smith Debnam.”TERESA, NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY

“The social events and gatherings gave me the ability to experience the strength of this firm’s culture. Overall, the summer associate program has truly exceeded my expectations. One of my favorite aspects of the summer associate program is the mentor/mentee relationship. I am always able to rely on my mentor for guidance and advice.”JOANNA, NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY

In addition to first-hand experience with the practice of law, the program provides a forum for law students and our firm to become better acquainted with one another while evaluating the potential for permanent employment. Participants engage fully in the daily life of our firm, personally experiencing the work ethic, collegial culture, and developmental priority valued at Smith Debnam. Various social activities are also planned each summer to provide relaxed and informal interaction with partners, associates, and firm management.

Program At-a-Glance

  • 12 weeks paid engagement
  • Project assignments across all firm practice areas
  • Hands-on participation in mediations, court sessions, client meetings, research, and firm meetings
  • Dedicated attorney mentorship
  • Social activities with firm members
  • Performance feedback on all projects; mid-summer and closing evaluations

If you would like information regarding our fall on-campus interview schedule, please contact Brian Gilman, Chief Operating Officer, at 919-250-2000 or submit your resume.

Shape919.250.2000 noun_20940@smithdebnamlaw