RALEIGH, N.C. — Poyner Spruill’s 2019 Summer Associate Program ended last week with three law students finishing up their six-week stints in the firm’s Raleigh office feeling excited about the legal industry.
Justin Hill (rising 3L) and Samuel Morris (rising 2L) both attend Campbell University School of Law, while Micole Little is a rising 2L at the North Carolina Central University School of Law. All three came with previous legal internship experience but were impressed with the chance to work in so many different practice areas in their time at Poyner Spruill.
“Being at a firm like Poyner Spruill that handles pretty much every type of legal work, you get to interact with different types of law each day, each hour,” Morris said. “There’s no issue they can’t handle. It’s been a good process of helping me find what I truly enjoy doing.”
Hill added, “I think one of the biggest expectations I had coming in was to see a lot of different practice areas and touch a lot of the areas of law that I haven’t had the chance to see yet. The attorneys at Poyner Spruill made sure we didn’t get the same assignment over and over. I don’t know that I can say I figured out what I want to do, but I can say I got the wide range of experiences I wanted.”
Hill, Little, and Morris all echoed sentiments on the high value of the work done and the ability to work alongside attorneys on meaningful matters. This included the opportunity to observe depositions and trials, as well as tracking documents and case progress during their stint at the firm.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to accompany an attorney to a client meeting for an issue,” Little said. “The client knew I would be there and was welcoming to me. All parties involved made me feel like I was not out of place. Being treated as an equal to the other attorneys was really nice.”
Morris said the tracking of matter progress helped to contextualize what he was learning in law school with how it functions in the real world.
“Handling such important work was a bit daunting but flattering at the same time,” he said. “Poyner Spruill did a great job of giving us work that matters. There have been a number of projects I took on that started as an off-the-cuff duty, and the attorney liked my work and that led to the chance to work with the attorney on the matter.”
Hill noted that Poyner Spruill supplied him with a strong base of project work but emphasized that attorneys were also open to bringing the summer associates items of interest that developed during the program.
“Attorneys can’t really plan for those types of opportunities, but they were great about keeping us involved,” he said. “They didn’t overmanage. They allowed us to take projects from the project manager but also allowed us to interact with the attorneys.”
In addition to the legal work, Poyner Spruill provided social opportunities and informal interactions with the attorneys and staff at the firm. The firm hosted the summer associates for a summer barbecue and also scheduled outings to soccer and baseball games.
“Over the past six weeks, it’s been a crash course in how to hold conversations with other attorneys, even if it’s not entirely business-related,” Little said. “I’ve been able to see the importance of networking and creating connections with other people.”
“Poyner Spruill also taught us about the peripheral aspects of a law practice that aren’t always the focus — how to balance professional and personal lives,” Morris added. “I learned as much in six weeks as I did in my first year of law school.”
All three associates spoke of the ability to approach attorneys with questions or interest in a particular type of work. This was a key aspect to making the program as fulfilling as possible.
“I didn’t just wait for the next project,” Hill said. “I was talking to people, going out and seeking work to see what type of legal work I wanted to do, what I enjoyed. As a summer associate, you need to keep a genuine interest in what’s going on at the firm and look for opportunities to develop your skills.
“I wouldn’t have seen what I did without being active. I wanted to take advantage of being around such talented and experienced attorneys.”
All in all, the summer associates left feeling encouraged by the experience and saw a measurable benefit from the variety of the work done while at Poyner Spruill.
“I went into this summer thinking I wanted to be at a law firm,” said Little, who interned with an appellate judge before joining Poyner Spruill. “I took the judicial internship to cover my bases and make sure I knew where I wanted to be. My time at Poyner Spruill has reinforced this is the kind of environment I want to work in.
“I think I received work from every practice, and I’ve was able to interact with attorneys in every practice at a pretty involved level.”
Participants in the first half of the Summer Associate Program, which ran from May 13 to June 21, included Nia Doaks (rising 3L, Wake Forest University School of Law), Sarah Fritsch (rising 3L, Wake Forest University School of Law), and Camila Rohena (rising 2L, University of North Carolina School of Law).