Quinn Emanuel lawyers at summit of Mt. St. Helens on Friday, June 25th

One of the perks of working at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is an annual hiking trip to an exotic location. Quinnies have hiked in Zion National Park, Havasupai, Durango, and Interlaken, Switzerland, among other places. Last month, the firm went on its fifteenth trip, to Mount St. Helens in the Pacific Northwest, and did a day hike to the top of the crater.

Someone nominated the trip for our Best Summer Associate Event of 2010 contest. At right is the nice happy photo of lawyers on the summit (which John Quinn tweeted). Quinn told us:

we had 70 plus lawyers on this hike. all but one summitted. it was beautiful–and a challenge.

It was truly challenging: on the way back down the mountain, a couple of summers lost their way. The rest of the partners, associates and summers returned to their hotel by nightfall, but these two, whom we’ll call Hansel & Gretel, wound up shivering in the woods until 3 a.m. CORRECTION: A tipster tells us: “A group of four partners and associates hiked back up the mountain to look for them. Two of them, including a partner, stayed at the mountain until they were located, and the rest of the people were asked to leave by the sheriff.”

If the summer associate experience really were like an episode of Survivor, these two law students would not make the cut…

All of the Quinn Emanuel lawyers are talking about the Hansel & Gretel incident. We reached out to the firm and got the story from John Quinn directly:

coming down mt st Helens one glissades (slides) on one’s feet or rear end. these two made an incorrect decision–they slid down the wrong side of a ridge–which put them in the woods on the wrong side of the mountain. they had a choice to hike back up the ridge or stay put. they decided on the latter.

There were no Biglaw bread crumbs to help them find their way back. Luckily, someone noticed that the group was down by two.

their group leader realized they were missing pretty quickly; waited for them at the trailhead until the end of the day. then the local search and rescue volunteers were notified. took the latter a while to get organized and deployed. they were found very quickly after the [search and rescue] team spread out. they were a little cold but otherwise fine.

Why were the two summers stuck on the mountain until 3 a.m.? Quinn told us that part of problem was that the Search and Rescue team is made up of all volunteers and takes time to get mobilized:

it took them a while to get organized, get to the mountain and fan out. once that started, they were found within a half hour.

If you take a bunch of lawyers into the woods, something bad is bound to happen. But other Quinnies don’t need to worry about this incident putting the annual hiking trip in peril:

i don’t know what we would do differently in the future. we’re sorry they were stuck outside for a while, but they were never in any danger and, as i said, found right away.

we’re firmly committed to the view that our firm hikes should not be a stroll in the park. that won’t change

And Hansel & Gretel don’t need to worry about this putting their future at Quinn in peril:

they (smartly) decided to stay put… don’t see how it could possibly effect evaluation re professional qualities. could happen to anyone.

Why didn’t Hansel & Gretel use their Blackberrys to call for help?

there was no cell phone coverage on the mountain.

Add “being stuck on a mountain” to the (very few) acceptable reasons for a QE associate to not check email.

Earlier: Quinn Emanuel Believes in ‘C.B.A.’ (Check BlackBerry Always)
ATL Contest: Which Is the Best Event for 2010 Summer Associates?


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