This could have been one summer's tomb, but he turned it into his triumph.

The days of summer associates getting drunk and doing something incredibly stupid might be over. The kids are too terrified of not getting job offers — and they know that there is no 3L recruiting market to speak of. If they screw up their summer, they’re screwed, and so summer associates are playing things close to the vest.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t great summer stories happening out there. When the spotlight is on you and you can’t screw up, the only option left is to succeed.

That’s how one summer associate approached things. On a summer outing to the historic Apollo Theater, the summer reluctantly found himself as the center of attention. So he did what you have to do in that situation — he killed it….

Going to Amateur Night at the Apollo could have been a nightmare for a summer associate at Ropes & Gray. Amateur Night at the Apollo is notoriously hostile. Getting pulled up on stage during Amateur Night in front of your whole summer class sounds like the start to a story that ends in horrible embarrassment. From a tipster:

One night we went to Showtime at the Apollo, Amateur Night. This past Wednesday. I had never heard of the show before but was told not to expect much. The night probably wouldn’t have been all the memorable if not for the fact one of our summers got pulled up onto the stage at the beginning of the event. He was randomly chosen out of the crowd, him and about four other people from the audience. And then he and the others were made to walk on stage, in front of the entire summer class of future associates, several junior and senior associates, and some partners. He so clearly didn’t want to do it. We all felt bad for him. I mean, we all have guaranteed job offers – our only task is not to mess up. And here he is being dragged up on stage.

At this point in the email I was already thinking about the headline: “Apollo Theater Costs Summer Associate His Job.”

But that’s not where this is heading!

[D]ude nails it. All the contestants were forced to have a dance-off, and to have the audience vote on the winner. One of the contestants freaked and got kicked off the stage and replaced. The other three contestants were pretty good. When his time came up we were all laughing our ass of expecting him to balk and not participate. But nope. As soon as the music started, white boy got funky. It helped to have all of us in the crowd, but I’ll be damned – he did actually get the audience on his side. I had to give him props. I mean, here you had this white kid from an Ivy law school dressed in a suit and forced to perform in front of partners, all in front of a hostile crowd. Boy nailed it. The kicker? He actually won the audience vote. Yeah, the audience actually voted for him over all the others.

Awesome. This is how you are supposed to roll. Don’t worry about failing; instead, you’ve got to figure out how to succeed. Winners win, baby.

Sadly, after his performance, the kid was still worried that somehow uptight partners would use it as an excuse to ding him:

He was so worried he wouldn’t get an offer because of it. But we all thought he bagged it. When he got off stage we all told him that after the performance he was a shoe-in [sic] for an offer. He wasn’t nervous on stage at all — I mean, this guy really put on a performance, but then when he got off stage he was pretty worried about it. This week he was a lot more relaxed about it. But I know he is still a little nervous.

Buddy, you ain’t got nothing to worry about. Sure, partners are looking for associates who will be perfect drones and make no waves during their time spent at the firm treading water. But partners are always on the lookout for potential rainmakers too. There are some skills that can’t be taught and don’t show up on a transcript. Being able to walk into the Apollo in a suit and win an audience dance-off is one of them.

Not because being able to dance is a particularly useful law firm skill. But being able to win over a crowd, being unafraid, and not freaking out when the spotlight is on you — these are all very useful skills for a lawyer. If you pass this kid the ball, he’ll hit the shot. Kid could spend the rest of the summer having two-hour lunches and hitting on secretaries and still be a lock for an offer.

Because when it’s showtime at Ropes & Gray, we know that there’s going to be at least one summer who is ready to perform.


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