Twelve-hour days are not unheard of, and neither are lost weekends. “For a client, a summer can be a bargain,” noted a mid-level associate. At this associate’s spiffy firm, summers are billed out at $260 an hour, compared with $360 for first-year associates.
At Cravath, summers learn why their colleagues semi-affectionately refer to the Worldwide Plaza headquarters as the Death Star. “Under the guise of wanting to give you a taste of what the real Cravath life was like … you worked closer to associate hours,” one survivor recalled.
At Skadden, summers are expected to “bill” eight hours a day, but billing can include professional training and two-and-a-half-hour lunches. When they are working on a client matter, they are aware that their superiors discount for inefficiency and general cluelessness.
“They definitely sift though whatever time we spend on projects to bill the client appropriately,” said one Skadden summer. “It’s definitely not 1:1.”
“I’m trying to sleep with summer associates. I’ve made no progress.” So says a BigLaw associate who, understandably, did not want to be identified. (Watch out, ladies!) As might be clear from this sentiment, associates don’t get out of the office much, so when the new summers arrive, it’s like the buffet at Denny’s. “People facebook people, in the old sense of the word,” said one former Cravath summer, referring to the handy summer-associate directories (headshots included!) many firms distribute. “If you never leave the building, when are you going to meet someone else?”
Firms are also notorious gossip dens. “Most people are aware that anything they do or say is going to get around,” says a former summer at Simpson.