This summer, I’ll be posting Q&As from summer associates and summer interns. Have a question? Email me at

slow at work

Question: What Do I Do if I’m Slow at Work?

Today’s question is from a summer associate who says that after a busy first couple of weeks at work, “my workload has slowed down. I haven’t gotten any negative feedback from the lawyers I worked for, but I’m a little worried that I don’t have much to do. Any advice?”


Don’t panic if you’re slow at work. Slow periods occur during our working life, especially when you’re new to an office. It can be difficult for more senior attorneys to find time to integrate a new person into the team. Sometimes it feels easier for them to give work to the people they have already trained than start over with a brand new associate. The same holds true for summer positions with an added wrinkle that you’re not there for a very long time. It can be trickier than you think to come up with discrete projects a summer can handle which do not require a huge amount of background knowledge or ongoing involvement past the summer and still give the summer a good experience – which, believe it or not, is a goal of your firm! They are generally trying to give you interesting work. Before the summer begins, summer coordinators make an effort to line up assignments to give the summer associates something to do right away, and there can be a lull after that initial assignment well runs dry.

So don’t take it personally, especially when your feedback has been positive. Just follow whatever steps your office has in place to request new work. You can also use this as a chance to be strategic about taking on new work. Is there an attorney you liked working with? Reach out to them and ask for more work on their matters specifically. Is there a practice group or kind of case you want to try? Ask around the office to find out what cases might be available and ask to work on those matters. Slow periods are also a great time to take on a pro bono matter.

In the meantime, make sure you do a stellar job on any work assignments you do have and attend all the events and trainings your firm has available.

Check out more career advice here.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

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