Summer students can be valuable assets to your firm. They are a cost-effective way to tackle projects that you and your staff have little time to do. Their flexible hours allow you to schedule their work to minimize disruptions to day-to-day office business. If used smartly, a student can help you turn summer into an annual ritual of organization and house cleaning.
This will increase productivity for you and your staff in the long run.
The following are some project ideas for a summer student:
Cleaning out stored files
When was the last time you audited the files in storage to determine what actually needed to be there? Physical storage is expensive and lawyers need plenty as they build their collection of closed files. Many lawyers never get around to destroying files until well past the date required by their law society’s retention guidelines.
A summer student can work on scanning and shredding old files that ought to be destroyed. Not only will this create more space in storage but also at the office. Similarly, students can be tasked with ensuring all important documents in current files have been digitized for ease of access.
Simple data entry
Data entry is time-consuming for support staff but a great opportunity for a summer student to provide help.
For example, client disbursement recovery such as postage or courier charges can be entered by your students. As they earn your trust, you may have them work on more complex tasks. Trustworthy students can tally up client receipts for insurance expense claims or special damages.
Even if they are only able to organize receipts in a file, that can be a significant time saver for clerks.
Litigation firms, in particular, have a tremendous amount of photocopying that needs to be done. With trials normally on fall dockets, a summer student can be of tremendous help in assembling trial books. To maximize resources, students can complete large copy and scanning jobs after hours.
Simple auditing of files
A summer student can perform simple audits of files to ensure they are in order and important documents are where they are supposed to be. A student can review files to ensure there are no misplaced filings. He or she can ensure your master list of wills and powers of attorney is up to date. Students can even send form letters to clients who need wills reviewed or corporate minutes updated.
Helping you with tech
Young students have considerable tech skills. They can help you with social media such as a Facebook page or your Twitter account. They can also be used to pre-program your phones and photocopiers with frequently used numbers, or even with larger projects such as helping with setting up some automated processes or building/updating your web site.
Subsidizing the cost of a summer student
If you have concerns about paying your student, the cost may be subsidized under the Canada Summer Jobs program. This program provides summer job opportunities for students aged 15 to 30, and helps various organizations in hiring students.
Hiring a summer student is a win-win scenario for both sides. The student gains valuable experience in a professional setting, and the law firm can allocate a dedicated resource to back-burner tasks. Now is the time to make the most of your summer by hiring a student.
Written in collaboration with Kevin Cheung