When we asked our attorneys to describe Varnum, here's what they said:
- "all about passionate representation of our clients."
- "the ideal work environment. I'm challenged everyday, but I always have the positive support of my colleagues."
- "filled with people who are always available and willing to answer my questions."
- "family, without the awkward Thanksgiving Dinner."
- "a great firm with great people."
If this sounds like a firm for you, we invite you to explore our website. Learn more about our Summer Associate program and what it means to be part of the Varnum family.
For more information and to submit your resume and transcript, contact Kim DeBoer, Varnum's recruiting coordinator. Applications will be accepted beginning December 1.
Learn more about Varnum on Facebook.
Who We Are
Call-back interviews are great for meeting attorneys and catching a glimpse of the office culture.
Here's what you'll see during your visit to Varnum:
- Attorneys know each other.
- The firm is committed to diversity and inclusion.
- No one asks you how your family would feel about you missing all major holidays.
- The firm understands that you can't get full value from life without both achievement and enjoyment in all important areas, whether at work or at home.
- The firm has an open-door policy.
- Associates and Partners are collegial.
- Even new associates are given meaningful work.
- Attorneys and staff work as a team.
At Varnum, we understand that you are looking for a firm that engages your professional ambitions, complements your character, and reflects your priorities. If the following statements apply to you, Varnum may be the place for your legal career.
You seek a firm that...
Shares your expectation of excellence.
You want your firm to provide you with the opportunity to excel as a lawyer. You don't want to do three years of due diligence, and you don't want to be a senior associate before you take a deposition. You want sophisticated legal work and you want to exercise your ambition.
Varnum maintains and actively cultivates a culture of excellence. Varnum associates can expect to join other attorneys in court hearings, trials, client conferences and depositions until they feel confident in doing it on their own - then having the opportunity to take the lead.
We have a remarkably low billable hour requirement on the expectation that associates will spend time training and observing our attorneys at work, so they can be ready to step up as soon as possible. First year associates at Varnum have argued in front of the Sixth Circuit, had jury trials, played important roles in complex restructuring negotiations, and taken expert witness depositions.
Wants you to be successful.
You don't want your job to be a stepping stone, and you want your firm to feel the same way. Many firms operate on a pyramid structure, hiring countless associates with the expectation that many will leave each year. Competition abounds amongst associates for hours and opportunities at such firms, and lateral moves are routine.
At Varnum, we hire associates we believe will be Varnum partners, based both on their legal abilities and on our firm's needs. In 2008, our commitment to associates was recognized when Varnum received the "21st Century Innovator of the Year" award by Michigan Lawyers Weekly and the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan for outstanding efforts in recruiting and retention. We hire attorneys with the hope that they will remain with Varnum until they retire.
Reflects your commitment to professional responsibility and community leadership.
Over the years, the Varnum family has helped shape not only the West Michigan business world and a few skylines, but also our individual communities.
Varnum attorneys recognize these commitments. Varnum associates can earn up to 50 hours of billable credit for pro bono hours each year. We take our commitment to West Michigan seriously, and seek candidates who share the same dedication to their community.
Learn more Varnum's Commitment to Community.
A Day in The Life of a Varnum Summer Associate
As a summer associate at Varnum, I am finding that my days can be as varied as I want them to be. Yesterday, I woke up early to get into work and finish a memo on nonprofit dissolution before noon so I could attend a deposition that afternoon.
After a tasty lunch with another summer associate and two partners at Bistro Vella Vita, I observed my very first deposition. During the deposition, I was captivated by the partner's ability to circle from seemingly mundane inquiries into finely tuned questions eliciting information required for our case. By the end of the deposition, I was invigorated by the prospect of conducting a deposition of my own some day.
Today, I decided to come in closer to 9:00 and complete some research on a project involving the analysis of a corporate structure and potential liabilities. To a budding litigator such as myself, there are few more exciting tasks than putting one’s recently honed skills of issue spotting to actual, practical use.
Around 11:45, I noticed the lunch hour was approaching, and I remembered that I had a scheduled lunch with my associate mentor. We have had several lunches to discuss the nature and amount of projects I am receiving, whether I am attending as many out-of-office events as I would like, and generally how my summer is progressing.
After lunch, I met with a partner who asked me to draft my very first motion for summary disposition. After a few minutes of briefing me on the background of the case, he handed me a binder of all the litigation documents and the case file. He told me to stop by if I had any questions, and to let him know where I was with the motion in about a week. I left his office, excited to begin the project.
A few hours later, the firm treated the summer associates and some of the attorneys to dinner at San Chez followed by watching a concert in a suite at the Van Andel Arena. It was a perfect ending to an exciting day.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I apply for Varnum's Summer Associate Program?
You can apply for Varnum's Summer Associate Program through an on-campus interview at your school. Students attending other schools are welcome to submit a résumé, writing sample, and law school transcript to the Recruiting Coordinator via e-mail. References and undergraduate transcripts are needed only on a case-by-case basis.
2. Do you accept 1L applicants?
Yes. There are a limited number of spots available.
3. I was unable to secure a summer associate position at Varnum as a 1L. Should I bother reapplying as a 2L?
Yes! Varnum welcomes applications from students who interviewed with us as a 1L. Our decisions concerning 1L and 2L candidates are always exceptionally difficult, especially given the number of excellent applications that we receive.
4. I'm a 3L. Do I have a chance of securing a position with Varnum as an entry level attorney?
Yes. The number of anticipated position openings varies each year, but applications are always welcome.
5. Describe the interview process.
For 2Ls, most interviewing is done on campus in mid to late August. Shortly after the on campus interviews, you will be notified as to whether Varnum has extended you an offer for a callback interview. If you receive such an offer, the callback interview consists of 2.5 hours of interviews at Varnum's Grand Rapids office, followed by a networking reception. All 2L callback interviews are conducted on the same day.
For 1Ls, interviewing is on a case-by-case basis determined after review of all write-in resumes the firm receives. The 1L callback interviews typically consist of a half-day of interviews at Varnum's Grand Rapids office.
6. Are split summers allowed?
Split summers are considered on a case-by-case basis. We generally discourage first year students from splitting a summer because it substantially limits the extent of their learning and experiential process with us.
7. Does Varnum offer summer associate opportunities at their offices outside of Grand Rapids?
Yes. In addition to Grand Rapids, opportunities for summer associate projects may be available in our Detroit, Novi, Ann Arbor or Kalamazoo offices.
8. What training opportunities are there for summer associates?
The Summer Associate Program provides extensive training opportunities, some of which include the following:
- A comprehensive orientation program
- One-to-one mentoring
- Any associate development training offered at the firm
- Weekly summer associate luncheons. Past topics have included:
- Onsite visit and presentation by a firm client
- Golf etiquette and lessons
- 60 Minutes with management and Ask the Associates- ask any question you would like!
- Research/Legal writing
The success of our program is a direct result of the efforts we make to tailor our training and Summer Associate Program to meet the individual needs of the students who spend the summer with us. We work hard to give each student the opportunity to be successful and learn and practice their legal skills.
Compensation and Benefits
Associates receive a yearly performance bonus based on meeting a minimum hours requirement of 2,000 hours with at least 1,700 billable hours. The remaining 300 hours can be met with time towards business development, training, or marketing. Greater flexibility means that you can work on the projects that mean most to you, and you receive credit for activities that enhance your professional life. Discretionary bonuses are awarded.
Other benefits for associates include:
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The Summer Program
Spend the summer working in a vibrant, growing legal market...
Our Summer Associate Program is designed for law students who are interested in gaining valuable experience and learning about life as an attorney at Varnum.
Varnum's law school recruiting efforts begin with a review of students' credentials from law schools all over the country. We look for well-rounded individuals who have excelled in their studies, participated in extra-curricular activities and gained significant work and life experiences. We appreciate individuals who are professional, confident, and personable.
We hold on-campus interviews for 2Ls at the following law schools:
- University of Michigan
- Wayne State University
- Michigan State University
- University of Notre Dame
- Northwestern University
- Cook County Bar Association Minority Job Fair
In accordance with NALP guidelines, Varnum begins accepting resumes from 1Ls on December 1st of each year. If you are interested in applying, please forward your resume, transcript and writing sample to our Recruiting Coordinator, Kim DeBoer.
Summer associates receive assignments directly from assigning attorneys and are encouraged to seek out projects. This approach provides summer associates with direct interaction with attorneys while learning prioritization and time management.
Summer associates observe:
- Client Meetings
- Practice group meetings
To foster professional relationships and development, each summer associate has two mentors with one mentor being a member of the Recruiting Committee. Mentors act as sounding boards, workload moderators and advice-givers.
Summer associates receive both informal and formal feedback from assigning attorneys. Summer Program Directors conduct mid- and end-of-summer evaluations, which are an opportunity to:
- Discuss performance
- Listen to summer associate feedback
- Confer about practice group interest
- Develop strategies for future growth and development
Pro Bono Focus
Summer associates are encouraged to handle pro bono files Varnum obtains through Legal Aid of Western Michigan. The firm's Pro Bono Coordinator explains pro bono processes and available resources to support summer associates as they meet with clients, assess situations, strategize legal options and represent their clients. The Grand Rapids Bar Association and Legal Aid of Western Michigan have recognized our summer associates and Varnum's unique program for providing equal access to justice for the elderly and under privileged.
The Summer Associate Program also offers a balance of social events that takes full advantage of Grand Rapids, our thriving downtown, and its prime location near Lake Michigan. These events, which provide significant interactions between summer associates and our attorneys while highlighting the benefits of working and living in the Grand Rapids area, include:
- Sporting events
- Cultural events such as the Picnic Pops, Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts and touring Broadway musicals and concerts
- Outing to Lake Michigan
- Summer Associate-only Social Outings
- Golf outings
- Dinners at partners' homes
These events allow professional and social relationship building with members of the firm to engender a collegial atmosphere which differentiates Varnum from other firms. The result is a truly unique career opportunity that fosters personal and professional growth.