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It’s that time of year again when young law students vacate their verdant campuses for the high glass boxes of America’s leading law firms. By now, they’ve all been primed with stories of lunches at the best restaurants in town and box seats at ballgames. But with the law biz in one of its periodic troughs, this year’s class of hopefuls will be working the angles harder than usual to land a plum offer. It’s not unusual for helpful “how to” writers to dispense advice to novices on the best way to navigate their summer jobs. But rather than churning out more advice for aspiring associates, we thought we’d offer some rules for the care and handling of summer associates. Heaven knows, some firms can use the advice, given the periodic scandals that seem to plague summer clerk programs. Here, then, is a field guide on whom to watch out for over the next few months. THE OPERATOR The Operator is that summer associate who already knows all the angles. Can’t remember the profits per partner at a competing firm? Ask the Operators — they’ve got them all memorized. Operators spend a lot of time on their cell phones, e-mailing friends at other firms, and maybe disappearing every afternoon because they actually have a second summer job across town that you don’t know about. Not that you’ll find out. Operators cover their tracks like escaped convicts. When absent, the coat is on the back of the chair, the computer is on, and the coffee in the cup remains perpetually steaming. If hired, the Operator will end up being your top billing partner — or being disbarred. THE PLAYBOY (OR GIRL) A common member of any summer clerk class, this one either knows there is very little chance of getting an offer or doesn’t care one way or the other. Instead, they spend their summer running up the firm’s tab at every four-star joint in town and scoping out the local golf courses. They are fun to have around and have excellent social skills, but forget about them adding much to the bottom line. Worse, Playboys are adept at leading other summers, and even associates and partners, astray (it goes without saying that Playboys are never around for the tragic denouement of these evenings). On the upside, some Playboys are actually great rainmakers in training. Of course, others are great lushes in training. THE SUCK-UP Another common member of any summer associate tribe, the Suck-Up is also known as the Apple Polisher, or the Brown-Noser. Suck-Ups are typically gifted at assessing the power structure at any firm and then spending the next six weeks shamelessly ingratiating themselves with those who hold the hiring power. Suck-Ups are universally despised by their fellow lawyers-in-training and often use proficiency in flattery to mask deficiencies in other more vital areas. Be warned — if hired, there is a chance the Suck-Up could end up running your firm. THE SUPER GRIND The Super Grind is easy to spot — just check the library at midnight on any summer weekend. Super Grinds are hedgehogs, not foxes. Their one brilliant idea is to outwork everyone all summer, winning an offer through sheer stamina. Like the Suck-Ups, the Super Grinds are despised by colleagues but often beloved by partners, especially those whose Dickensian notions are gratified by seeing young, healthy 22-year-olds with the city at their feet, wasting away in a tiny cubicle. Super Grinds are, of course, displaying one of the qualities valued in junior associates. But take care: If hired, they will never be more than loyal foot soldiers — not the type to end up dazzling corporate clients. THE HEARTBREAKER The Heartbreaker can come in either gender, but given the predominantly male makeup of most big firms, is more common in the female variety. Heartbreakers are the dazzling summer associates whom everyone knows about before they ever cross the doorstep. Partners and associates angle to take them to lunch, there are always seats reserved for them at the exclusive restaurant outing, and at the end of six weeks they’re the object of several crushes of varying intensity. Heartbreakers, however, have a hard row to hoe. Their ability is discounted in proportion to their appearance, and they are frequently the target of gossip, not all of it true. Some Heartbreakers take full advantage of the stir they cause, seeking to parlay it into an offer. But most are victims of the unwanted attention of 3,000-hour-a-year admirers. Recruiting directors, do yourself a favor and keep the firm flirts in check. Your insurance carrier will thank you. This list is not comprehensive. Other well-known summer associate types include the Problem Child, the Delicate Genius, and the Invisible Man. Happily, most summers are pleasing combinations of traits noted above. If not, remember: You’ve already got more associates than you can handle. This article was distributed by the American Lawyer Media News Service. Douglas McCollam is a Washington correspondent for The American Lawyer magazine and a contributor to The Deal.

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