BY DAVID KATZ
In law schools we have a special term of endearment for people that we consider to be evil. Those fellow students that make you want stab yourself in the head every time they talk. Those students whose continued presence mandates that the school never switch over to a no-laptop requirement, for the influx of sharp points on writing utensils will undoubtedly lead to numerous prosecutions for assault with intention to permanently dismember or at a minimum render speechless. We like to refer to these people as “Gunners”.
Everyone claims to know one. The guy/girl who will never shut up. Usually its also the one person who never has anything interesting or relevant to say. They are annoying people who we try not to make eye contact with at the Hark when they are looking for a table to sit at. However, the question that we rarely stop to ponder is “what happens to these people when they graduate?” They can no longer be referred to as gunners, for that term has a uniquely academic connotation. So what so we call them? What happens to them? I would like to submit, based on no real evidence other than anecdotes and observations from the interviewing process, that at least some gunners end up at law firms and come back to campus to do interviewing. Except at that point they are no longer called gunners. They are now just plain and simple “jerks”.
One of my fondest memories of the interviewing process involves a partner who came to the firm after 8 years at the ACLU. Although that resume line alone should have warned me that the guy was not exactly the greatest specimen of humanity, I was still unprepared for the reception that I received. He requested a transcript immediately upon my entering the room, glanced at the transcript, looks up at me and says “well, I see grade inflation has come to Harvard.” Ladies and gentleman, I would like to suggest that we have found a winner – another former gunner turned jerk.
However, my relatively tame encounter with the dark side pales in comparison with what some of my colleagues have experienced. There was the interviewer who told a female student that his firm had a reputation for being nice that works to their advantage in litigation because it lulls the other side into complacency. “Let me give you an example of this so you can understand,” the interviewer continues, “I’m sure there have been times when you used your being a woman to get something.” There was also the partner who spent an entire interview telling the student how much he enjoyed the conversation he had with the preceding candidate, and how wonderful that other student was. The partner from California who called a student a “fag” and told him he “he had no penis” because the student did not want to come work at that partner’s office was another favorite of mine.
My all-time favorite though was the reception that a friend of mine with a very Jewish name received in the hospitality suite of a major firm. The student walked in and introduced himself to one of the associates in the suite. The associate said, “I don’t think I can pronounce your name, let me go get a Jewish associate to do that.” She then promptly brought over what I must presume to be that firm’s token Jew and he greeted the student. Jewish Associate then turned to the first woman and said, “You went to Brandeis, you should be able to pronounce that name,” and she answered, “The only Jewish words I know are Chutzpah and Shiktzah.” As if that wasn’t enough to make sure that Jewish Student would not want to come work at Overtly Bigoted Firm, a partner came over and joined the discussion with a long speech about how Jews take too many holidays, and they should not be allowed to take Christmas off because they take off their own days and it would be “double dipping”. It just warms my heart to see such displays of humanity.
I guess the lesson for me in all this is that there are not really any people who are “gunners.” There are just jerks. When they are in school it may manifest itself in that manner, but upon graduation they are loosed upon the world and apparently have no trouble making partner at some firms. The only real shock in all this is that the firms don’t have enough sense to hide these people in back offices when students are around. It makes me wonder if there are even worse creatures lurking in the back offices, if these people are what the firm considers their best way to impress students. I guess someday I’ll find out.
David Katz, 2L, is from Brookline, Massachusetts.