It’s Monday, February 14, 2005, and all over campus bright-eyed and excited young men and women are scurrying about in their finest garb. Freshly shaved and smelling wonderful, they carry with them leather bound offerings to present to their would-be suitors. After all, today is Valentine’s Day. More importantly though, today marks the start of the 1L on campus interviewing program. It seems too much of a coincidence that these two days coincide. After all, there appears to be much similarity between the game of love and the search for a 1L summer job.
When describing love, people tend to use words such as “fate,” “luck,” and “destiny.” Nowhere are these words more appropriate than in the 1L BIGLAW summer associate search. The other words used to describe love, such as “hopeless” and “overrated” are often times appropriate for the 1L job hunt too. But more than that, the selection process in the world of love is very much akin to the competition for those elusive 1L firm slots.
Students send out dozens of resumes, hoping that something about them will catch the eye of a prospective match. What characteristics make you attractive? That seems to be one of life’s greatest mysteries. As the answers trickle back, there appears to be little rhyme or reason to the developing relationships.
The “speed-dating” OCI process is quite an interesting phenomenon. Students rotate from firm to firm, trying to give the “right” answers to the same senseless questions. Who you even get a chance to see is random, assigned by the great matchmaking office in Pound Hall. Your “dates” attempt to get a feel for who you are based on those answers. They compare you to the stream of students who came before you, and the endless procession waiting outside for you to finish. From that initial encounter the list is narrowed to a select few students who were attractive enough to get a “second date.” Those students get the full date experience. They get to meet the “family,” talk over dinner, and spend long periods of time in awkward conversation.
From that point on, its either love at first sight or a cruel rejection. The rejections always start on a positive note: “your credentials are impressive, and we are sure you are the greatest person that ever walked the face of the earth, and we would love to have you.” The next sentence tells the rest of the story. Usually it begins with the word “unfortunately,” or some similar expression. They then explain how it wasn’t you, it was them. They just couldn’t make the space for you due to the “constraints of their hiring needs.” Some of them even include a glossy brochure as a souvenir of your encounter with the firm. Of course, they all make sure to tell you that they will give you another chance next year if you are still interested.
The relationship then goes through a number of distinct phases. You have the initial “honeymoon” period as a summer associate, where you can do no wrong. All your quirks are attractive to your “partner” as they wine and dine you and show you just how wonderful they are. In fact, the two of you barely spend any time apart. Your other friends and family are forgotten in a whirlwind romance of late night briefing sessions and expensive dinners.
As a first year associate, things are not much different. However, once you get past that point, the odds start to work against you. All those funny things you do start to become annoying. Those late night chats and the constant communication begins to become suffocating. You want a breather, a little time apart. However, this “partner” is very jealous and doesn’t want you seeing “other people.” At this point you have two choices. You can either put in the effort required to make the relationship work, or you can bail out and start again in a healthier relationship. Making it work will require all the strength and dedication that you have. You will have to sacrifice everything else, and place this relationship at the center of everything in your life. And then, someday far into the future your “partner” may get down and propose, offering you the diamond ring. Or, more likely, they will “cheat” on you with someone younger who can work harder and stay longer.
Is this whole “love” game worth the effort? Today, looking around campus, there seems to be a lot of fresh faced youth who have decided to take a shot at it. For that enthusiasm and optimism, I salute you. Good luck everyone!
DK is a 1L. Will you be his summer employer?