Biglaw, Drinking, Food, Summer Associates

Read This Before You Embarrass Yourself at a Summer Associate Lunch

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a new series of monthly posts, brought to you by Corporette’s Kat Griffin, which will deal with topical business and lifestyle issues that present themselves in the world of Biglaw. Send your ideas for columns to us here.

Summer is officially in full swing — long lunches, here you come! Quick question, though: Do you know which is your water glass? One of our top posts on Corporette is on the subject of business lunch etiquette, so let’s do a super quick review…

  • Your napkin. It should go in your lap as soon as everyone from your party is seated. It doesn’t go back on the table until you’re getting up to leave. (If you have to go to the bathroom or take a call during the course of lunch, leave your napkin on your seat.)
  • Say “BMW” to yourself. Bread, middle, water. Your bread plate is on your left, your water cup is on your right.
  • Put your phone away. Whether you have a Blackberry or an iPhone, whether your work email goes to your phone or not, put it away. Unless you have a really good reason (waiting for a call from a partner; pregnant wife due any minute), you’re just not that important.
  • On appetizers. If everyone is ordering them, you should order one too. If no one else is ordering them, do not order two dishes. If you’re ordering first, it’s okay to ask if everyone is having appetizers.
  • On alcohol. Really? You can’t make it through the day without having a drink? Danger, Will Robinson — proceed very cautiously.
  • Do not ask for a doggy bag.
  • Do some legwork if you have very particular dietary requirements. It can be awkward to try to have a gluten-free business lunch (or Paleo or whatever), so if you need/want to be strict with your diet, call the restaurant beforehand. You can ask all the questions you need to ask without prolonging the lunch (or subjecting your own diet to possibly unwanted scrutiny).
  • Finally: it is possible to avoid gaining weight over the summer recruiting season (and even to diet as a summer associate). Do what you can.

Readers, what are the biggest etiquette gaffes that you’ve seen at summer lunches?

Kat Griffin is the founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Corporette. She received her JD with honors from Georgetown University Law Center, and then returned to New York to work at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, where she worked as a litigator for six years; she then worked as a staff attorney at the Media Law Resource Center for two years. You can contact Kat here.

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