Sound of Music Julie Andrews Above the Law blog.jpgSeveral tipsters wrote us about the upcoming firm retreat of Quinn Emanuel — or the “2008 Firm Hike,” as it’s officially called. It’s taking place from July 9–13, over in… SWITZERLAND!!!
From one incoming QE summer:

I’m summering at Quinn, and I just found out that the annual firm hike is going to be in Interlaken, Switzerland. It’s a four-day trip, capped by a 25 km hike in the alps. Summer associate perk watch?

We asked this individual if they’re excited about the hike:

Hell yes. Forget ballgames and cooking classes, this is a serious trip. I chose Quinn because of the work hard-play hard mentality and outdoors-y vibe, but this is taking it to another level. It is rough that it’s such a short trip, but I’d guess that a bunch of full-time employees will extend it by a few days.

More discussion — some pro- and anti-hike sentiment, from full-time QE lawyers, plus comment from John Quinn himself (in an email with capitalization!!!) — after the jump.


One permanent associate didn’t share the summer associate’s enthusiasm:

Quinn Emanuel usually does its firm retreat over the summer in the form of a hike somewhere in the west. This year they announced that the hike/retreat would take place in Switzerland and last almost one week. Sounds awesome, right? But read the fine print boys and girls: to participate in the trip, you need to kick in $1000 to help defray the costs, and sorry, no spouses are allowed.

Query: if you are enjoying a relatively slow summer that allows you to disappear from your desk for one week, would you really pay $1000 for the privilege of hanging out with your bosses and colleagues in one of the decidedly less exciting European countries? Or would you rather use that time and put that money toward a REAL vacation with your significant other? I honestly wonder if this is some sort of test for associates who are gunning for partner, to weed out the less devoted.

Fair points. But another full-time associate was more positive:

I go on the hike every year and always have a great time. So this was sort of a no brainer. The trend that I have seen is that people who usually are up for the hike every year are considering going to this. People who can’t be bothered to go on our regular hikes have shown no interest (despite the fact this will be less hiking than usual).

I admit it is a long way to go for a short time, but I have never been to Switzerland and am pretty excited about it.

Finally, on the financial point, John Quinn points out — in an email message that employs capitalization, but still falls on the informal side — that the trip is being heavily subsidized, even for full-time associates:

[The information from your sources is b]asically correct. We will leave on a wed and return mon. True cost is abt $3500 per. Summer associates pay nothing. Associates pay 1k. Partners individually will pay some amount above true cost (not yet determined). Firm picks up the rest. Its a grt deal.

We already have over 100 people signed up to go less than a week after the announcement. This hike is described in the lonely planet guide as the best 1 day hike in swiss.

Sounds fantastic! For the curious among you, the emails describing the firm hike — the first sent to permanent associates, the second sent to summer associates — appear below.
They’re pretty similar. If you were to generate blackline — er, make that redline — versions, you’d see that they’re basically identical, except for (1) the “no obligation to come” language, which appears only in the summer associates’ email, and (2) the discussion of financial arrangements, which mentions a $1,000 contribution from permanent associates, but no contribution from summer associates.
Swiss Flag Swiss Alps Quinn Emanuel firm hike Above the Law blog.jpgQUINN EMANUEL URQUHART OLIVER AND HEDGES LLP — MEMORANDUM — 2008 FIRM HIKE — ASSOCIATES
Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 10:59 PM
To: Associates; Partners
2008 Firm Hike – Quinn Emanuel Invades Switzerland!
2008 Firm Hike: July 9–13, 2008
The Swiss Alps – Bernese Oberland – Base Camp – Interlaken and Grindelwald, Switzerland
For those of you who thought we just couldn’t top last year’s hike, we give you the mother of all Firm Hikes! This year we’re heading to where it all began, the cradle of modern mountaineering, the Alps. Get your passports ready and dust off your lederhosen, because we are invading Switzerland.
We’ll be hiking the “Faulhornweg” trail, a 25-kilometer hike through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. This hike has been described as the best hike in the Alps because of its classic Alpine beauty and its majestic views of the famous Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks. This, of course, is a Quinn Emanuel hike, so get yourself into shape as altitude will be an issue, again. Nevertheless, this will be the hike of a lifetime and one we’re sure you’re not going to want to miss.
This year we leave on Wednesday afternoon, July 9th, and return Sunday evening, July 13th. We will be staying in the beautiful town of Interlaken, situated between the lakes of Thuner See and Brienzer See. The hike itself will be on Friday, July 11th. Some of you will be overjoyed to know that you can leave your tents and sleeping bags at home as backcountry tent-camping is outlawed in Switzerland. As a result, our base camp will be the luxurious Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, see:
http://www.victoria-jungfrau.ch/en/desktopdefault.aspx
As you might imagine, inviting the entire Firm to Switzerland is a major undertaking and traveling to Europe in a big group during summer is logistically complicated and very expensive. If you attend the hike, the firm requires a contribution of $1,000 from each associate. Partners who attend will be required to contribute a significantly greater amount that will be averaged across the attending partners (to be determined later). Your contribution will cover all transportation, hotel and food.
Because of airline requirements, we need a firm commitment from you by THIS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 29th, 12:00-Noon PST. Please let Selene (not Tigran and not Steve) know.
If you cancel after March 21st for non-approved reasons, you must reimburse the firm for any expenses incurred on your behalf.
See you in Switzerland!
Swiss Flag Swiss Alps Quinn Emanuel firm hike Above the Law blog.jpgQUINN EMANUEL URQUHART OLIVER AND HEDGES LLP — MEMORANDUM — 2008 FIRM HIKE — SUMMER ASSOCIATES
Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 7:09 PM
To: Summer Associates
2008 Firm Hike: July 9–13, 2008
The Swiss Alps – Bernese Oberland – Base Camp – Interlaken and Grindelwald, Switzerland
As I told you in an earlier email, the firm hike this year will require a passport. We’re heading to where it all began, the cradle of modern mountaineering, the Alps. Dust off your lederhosen, because we are invading Switzerland.
At the outset, I should let you know that while you are all invited to participate, there is absolutely no obligation to do the firm hike. Don’t like to hike? Spent way too much time in the Swiss Alps already this year? That’s okay by us. The hike is meant to be a fun and challenging event– not a chore. So don’t feel bad if you don’t want to come.
That said, this year’s hike promises to be spectacular. Tigran, who works with John Quinn to plan the hike each year, has outdone himself. We’ll be hiking the “Faulhornweg” trail, a 25-kilometer hike through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. This hike has been described as the best hike in the Alps because of its classic Alpine beauty and its majestic views of the famous Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks. This, of course, is a Quinn Emanuel hike, so get yourself into shape as altitude will be an issue, again. Nevertheless, this will be the hike of a lifetime.
This year we leave on Wednesday afternoon, July 9th, and return Sunday evening, July 13th. We will be staying in the beautiful town of Interlaken, situated between the lakes of Thuner See and Brienzer See. The hike itself will be on Friday, July 11th. You can leave your tents and sleeping bags at home as backcountry tent-camping is outlawed in Switzerland. As a result, our base camp will be the luxurious Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, see:
http://www.victoria-jungfrau.ch/en/desktopdefault.aspx
As you might imagine, inviting the entire Firm to Switzerland is a major undertaking and traveling to Europe in a big group during summer is logistically complicated. Accordingly, please let Selene Dogan in the Los Angeles office (she is cc’d) know by March 7 whether you will or will not be coming. The firm will cover all (reasonable) expenses associated with the trip. Please note that if you decide later not to come on the hike (absent a very good reason), you will be expected to reimburse the firm for expenses incurred on your behalf.
I hope you are as excited as we are about this trip! See you in Switzerland!


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