Monday, June 26, 2006

What NOT to do as a Summer Associate

There's loads of advice on the web about how not to act stupid as a summer associate. Much of it is funny, in the "Wow, I'd never do that!" kind of way. But there are more subtle, less egregiously dumb ways to put your career in peril.

Take a look, for example, at a recent post on Lack of Scienter, which advises that generally "you're not supposed to bring your friends to Summer Associate events," and suggests that doing so may demonstrate a decided lack of judgment. Something, by the way, that I totally agree with. (Look at the post soon; the blogger deletes old posts.)

That's true for a couple of reasons. First, your friends weren't invited, were they? You will be called upon to exercise judgment and discretion as a lawyer, and encouraging people to crash a function with you doesn't demonstrate either attribute.

Second, and just as important, you will be attending the function with a bunch of overworked, overstressed lawyers who are prone to grumpiness. I've been there. In the face of too many deadlines and too much stress, goodwill and compassion sometimes fly out the window--and the summer associate who fails to exercise good judgment can be caught in the crossfire.

So your goal as a summer associate is to not do things the firm's jerks or good-people-gone-bad will think are stupid. Your primary goal is to get an offer for full-time employment. And if that's not you're goal, then I might question your judgment. Unless you are perhaps royalty and are just spending the summer slumming with the commoners. No joke--I've seen members of royal families working as summer associates at big US law firms. With secret service details and all. They were obviously not there for the paycheck. Yet even if you are in the line of royal succession, you'll still be thought of most highly if you eschew special treatment and play by the same rules as everyone else. Even if you do keep your security detail. (Which, come to think of it, you probably could bring to events uninvited.)