“People realize that when [a scandal] happens, if they misbehave, there’s a good chance it will make it into the blogosphere,” said Daniel Solove, a law professor at George Washington University and the author of The Future of Reputation. “Law students are reputation-conscious. They understand that a bad reputation can derail a career. … So it’s more important in the age of the blogosphere to behave well. There has to be some extra caution.”
The effect of this factor, however, should not be exaggerated. Message boards and blogs focused on the legal profession have been with us for several years now, so their presence is nothing new.
Not to mention, the kids these days seem—how to put it?—less concerned by bad press online than their forbears might have been. If Barack Obama’s body man can survive Internet photos depicting him and his frat-house brethren and parts of the anatomy that are not generally discussed during political campaigns, then the bar should be even lower for a measly summer associate.
3. Discretion Is the Better Part of the Billable Hour. One observer suggested that scandals are still happening, but they’re being kept under wraps by PR-wise firms. To which I say, Ha.
4. The Twain Hypothesis. Are past reports of summer associate scandals greatly exaggerated? This explanation may be the most interesting, if disheartening. Maybe there really haven’t been that many summer scandals in past years—they were simply hyped more.
“Once there’s a critical mass of people who are interested in something, it takes on a life of its own,” said Professor Solove. “The story itself becomes more interesting than the subject of the story. … There’s the story of the event, and then there’s the story of the attention the event gets.”
So, despite the high-profile exceptions (e.g., the Hudson jumper, a.k.a. “Aquagirl”), in the grand scheme of things, the actual number of summer associate scandals may be quite small.
“These are smart kids,” said Mr. Weber, the career-services dean at Harvard, of summer associates. “They’re exercising very good judgment. The thing you have to realize is that even when you hear these [scandal] stories, that’s one person. … In a class of 550, if I can count on one hand the number of incidents in a given summer, that’s a lot.”
So could it be that stories of summer associate excess are really just that—stories?
Perhaps. But who cares? Big Law is deathly boring. Summers: Don’t despair! There’s still time! Will at least one brave soul please do something monumentally moronic—even something really simple, such as, say, urinating off the top of the Empire State Building? The rest of us will have something to talk about all August. (Don’t be shy. Remember: Even Aquagirl got an offer.)