Every year, just as you feel fully settled into your jaded work routine, a set of new and fresh faces enters your stifling office environment -- the summer associates.
The summer associate (scientifically named the Workisplacia Unfamiliaris) is typically a premature version of the lawyer (Sleepis Deprivedae), if they're unlucky. This unsuspecting species of future attorneys generally spends one to two summers at a law firm. During this time, the existing lawyers at the firm work rigorously to deceive the summer associates into thinking that they want nothing more than to commit themselves to working for the firm for the rest of time. Once that fateful choice is made, the metamorphosis of the Workisplacia Unfamiliaris into the Sleepis Deprivedae begins.
This process includes several phases, that I describe below.
1. Free Food and Beverages
In order to effectively woo the summer associate into thinking the typically hostile law firm environment is a desirable place to work, an appeal to basic needs (e.g., food, water, shelter) must be made. After all, these summer associates will eventually be spending most of their days in their offices, so they must begin to equate these spaces as a second home.
Start by inviting the summer associate to firm-paid lunch and/or coffee on a regular basis as though this is a common occurrence. Rejoice! The next few weeks of summer will be the best fed months of your year.
One thing to be wary of is making sure the ratio of attorneys to summer associates for these food and coffee outings does not raise red flags for the law firm reimbursing those expenses. I learned the hard way that a "15 attorneys to 1 summer associate" ratio will generally trigger a new law firm policy since most firms, unfortunately, believe that there are diminishing returns on mentorship benefits past the 10th mentor.
Stick with a 3:1 ratio of attorneys to summer associates to be safe.
2. Outsource Deceivingly Easy Work
The summer associate, with its high reserves of "enthusiasm" and "idealism" (if you are reading this as a mature Sleepis Deprivedae, then these words may be entirely foreign to you at this stage) may be easily scared away by the truly mundane and thankless nature of your work. Accordingly, you must give them simple projects to complete with ample time, that they would never otherwise realistically encounter, and be prepared to shower them with praises, that they would never otherwise receive in practice.
You must be cautious not to let your true emotions slip out when judging the summer associate's work. As an embittered attorney whose obsessive and compulsive tendencies for perfection and resourcefulness have been deeply drilled into you through years of mental and emotional abuse, the summer associate's mistakes and stupid questions will personally offend you. In these cases, employ the Sandwich Method, in which you provide your constructive comments between two pieces of positive feedback... and then buy the summer associate a sandwich on the firm (see #1 above).
3. Summer Events
To further lure in the summer associate, they must have the false impression that they are joining a "fun" firm. This means holding various firm-hosted social events that are not related to the practice of law, such as Bowling or Movie Night. This convincingly indicates that your firm offers "work-life balance" and that you and your colleagues have an active "social life" (it also helps to not use air quotes when saying either of those phrases).
Again, you must act as though these are usual occurrences. The summer associate will grow suspicious if you say things like, "Wow, we never do this!" or "I'm not used to being exposed to anything other than the stale air from the law firm office for prolonged periods of time, do you think I will break out in hives by attending this event?"
While it may seem unnatural and laborious to put on a front for the summer associate, think of this as an investment. Once the summer associate commits to the firm and returns as a junior associate, you can immediately drop the act and begin to freely traumatize them, just as you were traumatized in years past.
If you're effective enough, they'll be looking for ways to sleep in the office too!
Check out this post and similar posts on Medium.