summer associate program ATL Above the Law blog.jpgThis year’s batch of summer associates are roughing it at Biglaw summer camp, with fewer meals out on the firm and less lavish events. To make matters worse, some summers are being told now that their future job will be deferred. Summer associates at Skadden and Ropes & Gray have been informed that they can’t come back to the camping ground until 2011. Tents can’t be repitched at Orrick until 2012.

This seems like a good time to focus on the light side of the summer associate experience. For the past month, we’ve been soliciting entries for our Summer Associate Event Contest of 2009. They came trickling in slowly, whether because there aren’t many events to brag about or because summer associates are too busy (or too scared) to email us. One SA was so fearful of “tipping” us that the announcement about the firm’s event was sent anonymously via snail mail. [FN1]

One ATL reader from a small firm had this to say about the environment at firms this summer:

Our firm does a lot of corporate bankruptcy work, so we’re faring better in this economic storm than most, but we had to scale back our summer associate program a bit. We do not have as many summer associates as we used to, and we are not having as many major, expensive events. No more big-ticket concerts; no more dinner theater on a river boat; no more renting out an entire movie theater for a pre-release movie showing….

Certainly, the difficulties of this economy are showing in the makeup of our summer class: because we have a summer program at all (unlike many law firms), we’re getting students from higher ranked schools. Most of them are from Top 20 law schools, all of them from Top 75 law schools, none of them from the fourth-tier local law school that usually supplies some of our summer class. And our summer associates are noticeably more stressed about the experience and their prospects than I’ve seen in the past 10 summers.

Despite the foregoing, we have a nice selection of events for the contest. We ask you to vote on the best one, plus offer a few honorable mentions (for events involving public urination and broken bones), after the jump.


Here are the entries:

A. Sidley Austin (New York) took its summers to see the Broadway musical Billy Elliot in June (shortly after the show cleaned up at the Tony Awards). Pretty snazzy! Lat is trying to get tickets for a month out, and all that’s available is the last row in rear mezz (unless you spring $250+ for a premium seat).

But dinner was at John’s Pizzeria — excellent pizza, but not lavish, with an average check of $15-20 — and tickets to the show were “distributed on a first response basis.”

B. Can Cleary Gottlieb “beat it” with this event? Cleary D.C. took its summer class to a Michael Jackson tribute band concert at the 9:30 Club on the night of M.J.’s death. From the tipster:

Pretty impressive considering they had to get all the tickets within minutes after he died.

C. Cadwalader NYC’s program is really “stripped down” this year. It took its summers to a Mets game. Afterwards, a few associates and summers traveled from Citi Field to Titty Field, though the strip club inning was not sanctioned by the firm.

D. Summers at Carlton Fields in Tampa aren’t just fishing for jobs:

Friday, June 5: “Fishing Trip” including 5 large boats, 20+ Associates and Partners, 10 Summer Associates, cases and cases of beer (with tons leftover), starting at 9:00 AM, a stop for lunch at a beach bar, another stop at a bar later in the afternoon, everyone swimming together while boats tied up together, finally coming back to marina at 7:30 PM. Logo Beer Cuzies included. Partners, Associates, and Summer Associates all swimming together drunk. Awesome.

E. Summers in the Dallas office of Fish & Richardson are managing to skate by despite the recession. They took part in a roller derby last month, called “HARPDRYGAL IV.” We don’t have any details about the actual event, but here’s some background on what “Harpdrygal” is (beyond an amalgamation of the last names of its organizers — this guy and this guy), and an excerpt from the invitation sent to summers (reciting the history of past Harpdyrgal celebrations):

HARPDRYGAL I was taking summers to the return of WWE Friday Night SmackDown. HARPDRYGAL II was taking summers to a PBR (Professional Bull Riders) event. HARPDRYGAL III was taking summers to a derby race and demolition derby.

Below is the email that went out today about HARPDRYGAL IV.
The summer clerk event of the year, HARPDRYGAL IV, is officially a go for Saturday! (Although it was touch and go for a while.)

After lengthy negotiations, we just received word that the firm’s personal liability insurance carrier has approved the event. At the carrier’s request, there will be a bit more safety equipment provided for this year’s event and we will need all participants to sign a multi-page waiver/assumption of risk agreement. But you can feel free to ignore the small print on the contract (the risk of actual dismemberment is very, very low and there is much better medication for radiation poisoning than a few years ago . . .).

Anyway, the final details will be released sometime later today or tomorrow, but for the summers — and the few very lucky attorneys that get invited to attend — the event promises to be great once again! Yes, the economy stinks, the world is in turmoil, and cutbacks are taking place everywhere. But Harpdrygal is immune from such issues because , , , well, mainly because the event is so cheap and lowbrow that it can’t be hurt by lack of funding.

Here’s the poll, followed by our dishonorable mentions. Poll closes Sunday night.

Thanks for these submissions, but we didn’t think they made “the best of the best” list.
This comes from a U.S. office of a U.K. firm:

On an event that included a 2-hour drive in a stretch Hummer with drinks (beer and liquor), one of the summers apparently had a weak bladder and couldn’t make it all the way to the destination. To avoid a puddle, he asked the driver to stop the vehicle on the side of the interstate (we were in traffic at the time), which he did. The summer proceeded to urinate for about 2 minutes on the road alongside the Hummer, in full view (from the waist up) of the others on the trip. Also travelling in the vehicle were all of the summer associates, a few partners, the head of HR, the summer program coordinator and an assortment of other colleagues.

This comes from a Biglaw Los Angeles office:

A summer associate fell down a flight of steps at a firm karaoke event. She apparently required several hours of emergency surgery, and rumors have suggested that she may be severely injured. She was supposedly very drunk at the time.

[FN1] Please rest assured that we take the confidentiality of our tipsters very seriously. We would even, a la Judy Miller, go to jail — at least for a week or two, as a publicity stunt — to protect the identity of an anonymous source.

If you don’t want to email us — which you can safely do using a personal account, on your home computer or personal iPhone or Blackberry — you can:

  • call us at 212-334-1871 (ext. 3 for Elie or ext. 9 for Lat);
  • reach us via Facebook message (to Kash or Lat or Elie);
  • AIM or Gchat us (screen names in our Facebook profiles); or
  • reach us via snail mail (262 Mott St. Suite 102A, New York, NY 10012).
  • No anthrax, please. Thanks!

    Earlier: ATL Contest: What’s the Best Summer Associate Event of 2009?
    A Stripped-Down Summer Associate Event at Cadwalader


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