Every summer, the biggest and most expensive law firms in America conduct a curious ritual involving the nation's "top law students" — by which I mean students at the top-ranked law schools who don't drool on themselves during on-campus interviews and who, by dint of some combination of effort, luck, and the randomness of law school grades, have performed respectably well so far. The ritual involves hiring a group of the students, paying them lunatic amounts unrelated to their ability to perform useful work (around $2,400 per week for top New York firms), and wooing them with parties, concert tickets, beach outings, expensive dinners, great seats at the game, etc. All of this is intended to convince them that they will dwell in sunny and peaceful meadows should they take the firm's offer for permanent employment at the end of the summer.
Of course, the sunniest and most floral-intensive meadow is going to suck if you have to bill between 2100 and 2400 hours per year in it reviewing Indiana-Jonesish warehouses full of documents just to stay afloat and meet your monthly nut on that new leased car, not to mention your student loans. But the firms don't tend to emphasize that part up front. They put an amazing effort into convincing their summer associates that life at BigLaw is challenging but livable, with nary a sociopathic senior partner to be seen. And the dinners, sporting events, and outings continue to flow, even in difficult economic times.
There's an amusing side-effect to that campaign of wine and roses — some of the more foolish summer associates become convinced that they are golden and irreplaceable, and thus invulnerable to the consequences of the sort of behavior that would get them axed from a more mundane job. In fact, they're fungible. The top 10 law schools churn out about 3500 students per year, and that's a lot more than the top Biglaw firms need, thank you.
But law students being paid $2,400 per week to display the drinking skills they picked up at Yale or Stanford or Chicago are slow to learn that.
This could be tragic. Instead, it turns out to be a yearly source of entertainment. Example: summer associates at a Napa retreat for lawyers from Morrison & Foerster, unaffectionately known as MoFo in legal circles, got drunk, got tired of waiting for the shuttle at their ritzy resort, and decided to boost a car from the valet — and persisted in their efforts even after being caught in the act by the firm recruiter, one of the damned souls who rides herd over these scions and their truculent demands.
These students will get the dreaded no-offer call.
Edit: Dave points out that I carelessly used a 2000 salary chart, and that summer associate salaries are top firms are at $3,000 per week now.
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