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2020 Summer Associate Program Wrap Up

Despite the hurdles of hosting our firm’s first virtual summer program, the Recruiting team and Summer Associates had an incredible summer! This was in large part due to the overwhelming support of our attorneys and staff. By the conclusion of our summer program, we had offered 18 scheduled events, including practice team meetings, a virtual cooking class, a virtual escape room, two virtual game nights, virtual lunch with our Management Committee, a happy hour conversation, and several presentations. Our Summer Associates also engaged in almost daily virtual lunches and coffee chats with our lawyers. Below are highlights of a few of our programs. 

Diverse In-House Counsel Panel

Kerry Shad and Sharita Whitaker, the co-chairs of Smith Anderson’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, organized an incredible lunch program highlighting diverse in-house lawyers. The panel consisted of Osama Hamdy, GSK; Erin Locklear, RDU Airport Authority; Dayatra Matthews, LGFCU and Courtney Thomas, Trilliant. Our panelists spoke openly and honestly about their experience as both in-house and diverse lawyers. Their stories and comments were impactful and insightful. Several notable quotes from the panelists included:  “Be intentionally influential”; “Leverage your opportunity and demonstrate your value”; “You get to decide how you show up, how you work, and how you operate”; and “Do not let impostor syndrome make you believe that you do not deserve to be where you are.” In addition, there were several unsolicited comments by the panelists that were positive and enthusiastic about Smith Anderson.  

Diversity & Inclusion Committee Presentation

Based on feedback received at the end of last year’s Summer Associate program regarding the desire to know more about our diversity efforts and Diversity & Inclusion Committee, we held a virtual Happy Hour with the members of our Diversity & Inclusion Committee and our Summer Associates. Kerry, Sharita and the rest of the team showcased our Diversity & Inclusion Committee and all of its efforts and initiatives, past, present and future. Attendees were able to select their choice of beverage from several different vendors in North Carolina, all of which are minority- or female-owned businesses. The presentation was open for questions and discussion, and there was very positive interaction and engagement by our Summer Associates. It was obvious from the questions and discussion that diversity and inclusion was at the front of their minds. 

Career Development Opportunities

Summer Associates were asked to watch an internal presentation, “Career Development Opportunities Panel,” prior to meeting with Rose Kenyon and James Jolley, the co-chairs of Smith Anderson’s Pro Bono Committee. Rose and James used the presentation as a spring board to discuss our Pro Bono Committee, SA Fund and career development opportunities for younger associates and law students. As always, Rose and James offered an incredible amount of information around career development opportunities in the Triangle, including ways to expand your network and build relationships that could lead to larger prospects. Our Summer Associates asked thoughtful questions and walked away with a better understanding of Smith Anderson’s dedication to and involvement in our community. We trust they also left with the intention to become more involved in their own communities. 

To Err is Human – The Way You Deal with Mistakes is What Counts

Management Committee member Caryn McNeill led a discussion on mistakes, how we all make them and how best to recover from them. She offered a six-step process on what to do if you make a mistake, which resulted in a very lively conversation in which there was strong and open Summer Associate participation. Blake Fricks, our Director of Professional Development, then led an interactive discussion using real-life examples from three of our lawyers where mistakes were made in the law firm setting. Each situation included a discussion about how the mistake was handled and how the Summer Associate might have approached it. Both Blake and Caryn offered their thoughts, advice and encouragement. Our Summer Associates greatly appreciated this program and were engaged throughout! 

During a time of extreme uncertainty, Smith Anderson was able to provide a thoughtful and engaging program for the 2020 Summer Associates. Our goal throughout every summer program is to give practical experience through challenging work assignments and participation in out-of-office events including observing depositions, trials, closings, client meetings and negotiations. Although this summer offered significant challenges to in-person events, our goal was to deliver an impactful experience for our Summer Associates. The above are just a few examples of how our firm leaders and management take the time to go the extra mile and continue to showcase our commitment to mentoring, professional development and overall engagement in our Summer Program. 

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