• Law firm Cooley LLP is cutting the length of its summer associate program from 10 to six weeks, with a new start date June 15, the latest law firm to confirm to Business Insider that it is delaying its start date because of the novel coronavirus.
  • Other law firms that have confirmed a delayed, June start date include U.S. law firm Sidley Austin, along with Canada law firms Torys LLP and Stikeman Elliott.
  • Meanwhile, Davis Polk & Wardwell is pushing back its program as well, according to a person familiar with the matter who did not specify the new start date.
  • We’re compiling a list of what top law firms are doing with their summer associate programs, so please feel free to reach out and tell us what you know.

Cooley LLP, the tech and mergers and acquisitions law firm, has confirmed to Business Insider that it is shortening the length of its summer associate program from 10 weeks to six, as major law firms grapple with how to accommodate law student interns as coronavirus shutters offices.

“I can confirm that while taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic and barring any further unforeseen circumstances, Cooley is moving forward with its summer associate program, with a deferred start date of June 15,” said a spokeswoman.

“We are confident that, even with a six-week schedule, our summer associates will benefit from high-quality assignments and be able to fully experience the firm’s unique culture.”

That confirmation came after other top law firms, including Sidley Austin, Torys and Stikeman Elliott, told Business Insider that they would also have delayed start dates, but it was not immediately clear how those delays would affect the overall length of the programs.

The news comes as many law firms and cpa firms big and small have considered doing away with their summer associate classes, abbreviating them, or keeping them intact while implementing virtual summer programs where interns work from home, according to law firm partners and their advisors.

“Candidly, we are still evaluating how (and for how long) we could give these developing professionals a meaningful ‘experience’ if we remain in a remote environment,” Jeremy Roth, co-president of Littler Mendelson, told Business Insider in an email.

“At this point, we have made no decisions to change our approach, although changes could come depending on how the crisis evolves.”

Other law firms that had yet to make a decision on how to proceed were Paul Weiss and Quinn Emanuel, according to representatives of those firms, as well as Kirkland & Ellis, according to a person with direct knowledge of its program.

Even for the firms that did delay their start dates, spokespeople said the June start dates were not definitive.

“We are still waiting to see how the situation progresses before setting any date in stone,” said a spokeswoman for Stikeman Elliott.

Said a Sidley spokeswoman: “I can confirm that our summer program will not start any sooner than June 1.”

“Start dates for each office will be flexible in order to accommodate local circumstances in their particular city,” she said.

The developments are significant because thousands of law students are anxiously awaiting news about whether they will be employed this summer, and if so, how they will experience a summer internship, according to interviews with law students.

Typically, 1Ls and 2Ls at law school relish the opportunity to work at a law firm over the summer to gain experience and build relationships with future colleagues. While they aren’t admitted to the bar at that point, they help with tasks that don’t require legal judgment, like research, and enjoy colorful outings with firm associates and partners.

Quinn Emanuel, for instance, has been known for taking its summer associates on grueling hiking trips, including through Olympic National Park in Washington State, and up Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

The excursions have yielded priceless stories. During one, years ago, the firm’s managing partner, John Quinn, joked to a summer associate that if he swam across a glacial lake in Wind River Range in Wyoming, he would give him a job offer. The summer associate took him up on it, stripped down, dove in and got the job, according to a 2006 feature story published in The American Lawyer.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore, meanwhile, has been known to rent out the Central Park Zoo for cocktail parties, though lately firms have been trying to host their summers for more alcohol-free activities, like axe-throwing, to avoid any potentially embarrassing situations that might arise otherwise.

This summer, though, law students are faced with the prospect of not being able to show up to the office at all, even if their summer associate classes go forward as planned.

If you’re a law student or practicing lawyer — or if you’re working on Wall Street more broadly — we want to hear from you. Contact this reporter at csullivan@businessinsider.com, DM on Twitter @caseyreports, or Signal message at 646 376 6017.

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