Conor Friedersdorf is a guest blogger at Andrew Sullivan's place. He opines that:
The details of how elite law and business consulting firms recruit astonish me every time I hear them. Even getting an interview often requires attending an Ivy League professional school or a very few top tier equivalents. Folks who succeed in that round are invited to spend a summer working at the firm, the most sane aspect of the process.
But subsequently, they participate in sell events where they're plied with food and alcohol in the most lavish settings imaginable: five star resort hotels, fine cigar bars, the priciest restaurants. A fancy dinner will be scheduled in a faraway city. Summer associates will fly there that evening, spend several hundred dollars on the meal, spend the night in a hotel, and fly back the next morning in time for a 10 am client meeting. They'll expense steak dinners or $150 cab rides without a second thought. The whole process is designed to appeal to their status conscious side, to accustom them to a kind of luxury that requires them to retain highly paying jobs, and to keep them busy enough during their summer tryout that anyone unable to commit their whole lives to the firm won't stick around.
It wasn't that way when I was a summer associate or a practicing lawyer, but then again those were back in the days when the world was still in black-and-white. We actually used things called Wang workstations instead of PCs and phones were plausible instruments of homicide instead of minicomputers. Plus, we had to walk to work in the snow. Uphill. Both ways.
But maybe I just worked at the wrong firms. Or maybe the world has changed. Because over at Above the Law we learn that for some folks the 2010 summer associate program was pretty plush:
- Summer associates at this litigation powerhouse brag that their “workload is super light,” completing one to five assignments over the course of the 12-week summer program, and typically spending about five hours a day on billable work. Just don’t expect to be making the lunch rounds at the city’s trendiest restaurants. Summers eat in at the firm’s dining room, which serves free but “excellent” lunch daily.
- It certainly pays to have high-profile clients at this firm, which treats its summer associates to unique social events like the Tony Awards and the NBA Draft.
- The line between summer and full-time associates is blurred at this firm, with summers “put[ting] in well over 80 hours” during some weeks to complete 15 or more assignments during the eight-week summer program. Despite their high work demands, these summer associates still find the time to be do-gooders by volunteering to cook at the Ronald McDonald House for kids and their families.
- The good old days never left this firm. Summer associates typically bill about four hours a day on assignments, leave at 5:30 p.m., play softball at Fenway Park, and still get 100% offers. But you might want to think about taking an extended post-bar trip, since you might not start work on time as a first-year associate.
- No complaints at this firm, which gives summer associates “exactly the work that they want” and still provides a “very generous” $65 lunch budget in New York. Be sure to brush up on your foreign language skills; one-third of the summer class gets to spend up to three weeks working in one of the firm’s overseas offices
WTF? Why didn't White & Case send me to the NBA draft? Arnold & Porter never let us play softball at RFK stadium either. I wuz robbed.
On a serious note, I find it puzzling that some summer associate programs were so plush in this job market. One would think things are so tight that firms could feed associates bread and water and still have the associates walk on hot coals to get an offer.
Thoughts? Comments? (Trolls from the O'Donnell post will be banished.)