There are only two seasons of the year at the firm. The first season begins in September and ends in May. The second season is summer associate season.
With competition keen to hire the most qualified future lawyers, law firms have lots of incentive to impress summer associates. The firm therefore goes to much effort in preparing for their arrival. Included among these preparations is the annual reminder to lawyers at the firm to be on their best behavior while the summer associates are on board. While even the hardest working attorney usually notices the changes taking place as summer approaches, some lawyers nevertheless need to be alerted about the fact that the season is upon them.
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To put everyone on notice, the firm's managing partner or recruiting committee usually sends a memorandum around the office reminding everyone to be on their best behavior when the honored guests have arrived. Such a memorandum typically covers the summer guidelines and words of advice for impressing summer associates. Some excerpts are reprinted below.
- “Upon encountering a summer associate, even for the second or third time in the same day, always volunteer, ‘This firm isn't a sweatshop. We care only about the quality of your work, not the quantity.’ (Slight variations of these words are acceptable but please try to keep to the script.)”
- “Any interesting, easy and fun projects involving travel to resort locations should be assigned to summer associates. Those projects involving the usual drudgery should continue to be assigned to junior associates.”
- “Never criticize a summer associate’s work product – no matter how bad it is and even if you’ll have to redo the whole thing yourself. Instead, say ‘Great work. How about lunch? The firm’s paying and you pick the place.’”
- “Refrain from asking summer associates out on dates (this privilege is reserved for senior partners).”
- “Tell summer associates believable stories to explain why most of the lawyers they interviewed with just a few months before are no longer with the firm. One always-effective explanation is to say that the missing lawyer is now working in one of the firm's foreign offices (even though we don’t have any). Another good one: ‘She’s now with the Clinton Administration.’”
- “Refrain from using the profane language commonly used in and around the firm to describe other lawyers.”
- “If a summer associate threatens to report you or the firm to the state bar, threaten back that you'll have all the information on the summer associate's resume verified.”
- “Give the impression that the firm is a friendly place to work and that everyone likes each other. If you spot a colleague in the presence of a summer associate, say something like ‘Hey, great barbecue last weekend, how about a drink after work?’ or ‘You left your tennis racket at my place.’ Warning: To avoid confusion, be sure the person you are addressing is in fact a lawyer or staff person and not another summer associate.”
- “Steer summer associates away from those lawyers who are best kept hidden. (You probably know who these people are but the office manager has a list available for review.) If unable to do so, tell the summer associate that the lawyer is co-counsel visiting from another firm or that he’s the guy from Xerox sent out to fix the copying machine.”
When September finally rolls around and the last summer associate returns to law school, lawyers at the firm breathe a collective sigh of relief. The summer charade is over and it's time to get back to usual way of law firm life.
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