Work in the Time of COVID-19: FAQs for Employers

Poyner Spruill’s 2020 Summer Associate Program looked a lot different this year as associates found ways to navigate working through a pandemic. The firm welcomed back familiar faces as well as a few newcomers.

Samuel Morris (Campbell Law), Camila Rohena (UNC Law), and Micole Little (NCCU Law), all rising 3Ls, returned to Poyner Spruill for a second consecutive summer to supplement their law education at their respective law schools. The firm was pleased to welcome rising 3L, Andrea Liberatore (UNC Law), and rising 2L, Rohun Shah (Wake Forest Law) who joined the firm for the first time.

Telework assignments and routine zoom meetings were part of this summer’s new normal. In spite of the program looking differently, summer associates were able to immerse themselves in legal assignments and Poyner Spruill’s firm culture.

“I had an amazing time with Poyner Spruill this summer,” says Liberatore. “I really appreciate the time and effort the firm put into making this the most beneficial experience possible. Despite the situation, I was still able to experience the nurturing and dynamic culture of Poyner.”

“After every project I completed with an attorney, I asked them if there was further work I could complete on the matter. Everyone took me up on this offer,” continued Liberatore. “As a result, I gained exposure to many parts of the case process, instead of just one isolated task. I feel like  this experience was extremely helpful to my development as a young attorney.”

Poyner Spruill always aims to expose summer clerks to a variety of work and this summer was no different as associates were able to take on assignments from various sections.

Rohun Shah, rising 2L at Wake Forest Law and fellow newcomer shared his experience with Poyner Spruill saying, “This being my first legal internship, I did not know what to expect. However, my time here has been incredible. I love that I was able to get exposure to so many different aspects of the law—something that would not have occurred had I been placed in a specific section or practice area.”

“Even deeper than the work that has come my way, which has been both challenging and exciting, the people I have met here are amazing. Everyone is so embracing—willing to offer guidance in every way to make sure I have everything I need to make the most of my first practical law experience.”

Micole Little, who is no stranger to the summer program noted how the firm ensured her experience would be just as valuable as last summer. “My experience at Poyner Spruill this summer has been everything that I could have hoped for, considering the circumstances. Having been able to spend some time at the firm last summer, I came in with a better understanding of the firm and the attorneys than I would have if this had been my first summer,” said Little.

“I feel that everyone I interacted with this summer was putting forth a genuine effort to give us a great experience despite it being mostly virtual. There was a great mix of virtual and limited in-person events that gave me opportunities to learn more about the attorneys at the firm.”

“The times where I was able to come into the office and work, I felt that everyone involved was very aware of wearing masks in common areas, sanitizing appropriately, and social distancing,” Little added. “Poyner created a very safe working environment, and that alleviated a lot of stress and worry for me. They also provided me with all of the technology necessary to work from home efficiently, and all of the attorneys I worked with this summer were very proactive about reaching out and responding quickly to emails, phone calls, and video calls. I feel like I got just as much, if not more, exposure to substantive legal work and feedback from my assigning attorneys.”

Summer clerks participated in virtual happy hours and section lunches to ensure (virtual) face time and an opportunity to connect in more relaxed settings.

Samuel Morris, who also returned to the firm for his second summer echoed the sentiments of his fellow associates saying, “I had such an incredible learning experience during my time with Poyner Spruill this summer. It was such a unique and valuable opportunity to work with some of the best lawyers that North Carolina has to offer. Although the summer program unfolded during uncertain times, I feel like it was extremely valuable as a crash course in remote working. We were able to get the best of both worlds, with the ability to come to the office on some days to get quality face-to-face time with the firm, while also learning to utilize various forms of technology for remote working that are becoming increasingly common in the legal profession.”

“I was able to work on many meaningful projects in every section of the law firm, which gives me invaluable experience heading into my final year of law school,” added Morris.

“I am proud of how we came together as a firm to create a meaningful summer associate program during these challenging times. There were many obstacles to overcome but everyone was able to adapt and persevere. The summer associates were able to contribute valuable work product for the firm while gaining invaluable legal experience,” said Amanda Sherin, who leads the firm’s Summer Associate Program.

Camila Rohena, who also returned for a second summer will finish up her time with Poyner Spruill on August 7th.



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