The 7 Less-Deadly Sins of Summer Associating

It’s a little-known secret that I was a big firm summer associate at Dorsey & Whitney in 1971. For two weeks and three days. So, while Bitter Lawyer already has a solid list of the Nine Summer Associate Don’ts, it doesn’t cover the less deadly sins that often apply to people like me and you. For that, I have my own experience and observations. Surprisingly, not much has changed.

1After Hours D&D. If a partner or more senior associate approaches you and asks if you want to “fit in a game of Dungeons & Dragons later, after work,” politely decline the offer. First, you don’t just “fit in” a game of D&D. It takes a long time. Second, most lawyers I’ve encountered who play D&D are far too technical and uptight about being dungeon master. Big firm associates are even worse, and they’ll totally harsh your game by using some skanky ogre or a rare but deadly cockatrice. Don’t go there. Put D&D on ice for the summer.

2Installing a Black Light. Black lights are pretty cool, I’ll have to admit that. But, surprisingly, most lawyers are not impressed by them. Calling a partner into your office to show him how much your teeth shine in the black light, while appealling, does not normally execute well. Keep the black light at home in your mom’s basement. Same goes for the felt black light poster.

3Chive Mouth. Legal skills are more important than social skills during the summer, but one social faux pas can undo any hard-earned progress: spinach flapping around in your teeth. Buy yourself a small mirror and keep it handy. Or agree in advance with another summer associate to do mutual chive checks after lunch. Or just avoid green food.

4Bad Ass Dog. Honestly, if you have a bad ass dog, don’t bring it into the office or to law firm events. The same reasoning behind leaving the bad ass boyfriend at home applies just as much to bad ass dogs, whether pit bull, Mastiff, or Rottweiler. Inevitably, one or the other will take a dump on the carpet and building maintenance will be called in to clean it up.

5Using Non-Issue Office Equipment. During my summer, I made the classic rookie mistake of insisting on bringing my own desk and office equipment. I wanted Bostich instead of Swingline and didn’t see the big deal. Whoa. Don’t do it at a big firm. Apparently, it takes a firm sixteen months on average to change stapler brands, and introducing a different brand caused a significant amount of discord. I was thereafter called “Bostich” by everyone in the office, as in “way to go, Bostich.” Not a good thing.

6Office Plaza Suntanning. It’s good to have good skin and a healthy tan. But, speaking from experience, stripping down to a Speedo and suntanning in the law firm’s outdoor plaza is not the best idea, especially if you like to wave and say “Hi,” to all the partners and associates coming back from lunch. Use a sunlamp instead, if you have to.

7Getting High at Concerts. Honestly, even if everyone else is doing it, don’t get high before a firm-sanctioned Bread concert. You’ll embarrass yourself singing “Baby I’m a Want You” to one of the other associates. Honestly.


C. Hank Peters ("Chank") is an attorney whose background includes a rural, small-town, solo practice in Minnesota. He uses his practice experience from the late 1970s to advise attorneys who want to establish a lean and client-focused legal practice. He is one of a few legal marketing attorneys online and remains the inspiration for the website Big Legal Brain.


  1. Strenuous Objector

    July 7, 2011 at 11:41 am

    This guy is really miss or hit, and I say miss first because he misses way more often than he even gets close to hitting the mark.

    • Paul Muad'dib

      July 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      I’m not even sure what the purpose of this post is as it has no relevance for people living in this century. I mean, Bread concert? Seriously?

      • C. Hank Peters

        July 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm

        Who hasn’t gotten high at a Bread concert? I guess I continue to underestimate large firm associates these days and their capacity for having some fun.

        • Paul Muad'dib

          July 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm

          I assume you’re being sarcastic…

          • Guano Dubango

            July 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm

            I can relate, man.

            In my country, we received, via UNICEF, a lot of old 8 track and cassettes disposed of by the USA. Becuase I am of royal stock, I had first pick of the cassettes. One of my favorites was the Bread album–it was very soft and romantic, and I used it with many of the local lionesses.

            I used to sing a Bread song to one beautiful Nubian girl, and she followed my lead…after I sang “if a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you…” she immediately disrobed and I had the night of my life “painting” her. So, my good man, as they say in the movies, don’t knock it until you try it, or better yet “don’t come a knocking if you see the van rocking.”

  2. Pete

    July 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I would add another DONT to this list. DONT, under any circumstances, bang any paralegal in the library.

    When I was a summer associate, and had a lot more testosterone, I met what I thought was then a hot paralegal. She was interested in hooking a hot (and well paid) associate.

    So, like Monica Lewinsky, when she led me upstairs to the library stacks, I followed, and after she lifted her skirt, it took about 3 seconds before her panties and my pants were dropped to the floor and another 3 seconds before she mounted me.

    In addition to the fact this was not safe sex, the poor girl’s hygiene left a lot to be desired. Hence, after we did the dirty deed and I pulled up my pants, I had to walk around all afternoon, like a skunk, with the distinct smell of stanky female poontang all over me.

    Needless to say, more than a few people, including my partner, got wind of this. I don’t think they figured out who the woman was, but I think they suspected, since for a week afterward, she followed me around like a polecat.

    I am happy to report there were no other ill effects, but I would not recommend doing any paralegal (or even another associate) in the library for all of the above reasons.

  3. MagicCircleJerk

    July 8, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Nice try…..

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