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At most firms, the arrival of a new summer associate class is almost as highly anticipated (and orchestrated) as the birth of baby panda Tai Shan at the National Zoo reportedly was. The culmination of nearly an entire year of preparation – sorting through resumes, devising creative and cutting-edge recruitment techniques, conducting on-campus and call-back interviews, holding seemingly endless hiring committee meetings and, eventually, extending offers to the coveted few – a summer class truly represents the hopes and dreams for the future of a firm. Although I was somewhat involved with last year’s summer associates after a friend was asked to help coordinate our firm’s D.C. summer program, I knew my experience was going to change dramatically when I was asked to assist him this summer as a co-coordinator. As fellow graduates of Venable’s 2002 summer program, however, I assumed that identifying with this year’s class would be the least of our worries. After all, I can still remember the dread I felt as I arrived late on my first day as a summer associate – the extra hour and a half I had allotted myself to make my way from D.C. to Baltimore foiled by No Left Turn signs throughout the city that pushed me over a bridge into Virginia and then by a lack of directional signs on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to alert me that I had inadvertently been heading South instead of North for the better part of fifteen minutes. With equal vivacity, I remember the relief I felt as I took my place at an imposingly large boardroom table, and learned that another summer associate had arrived only minutes before me – his delay having been caused by a frantic search throughout Baltimore for a pair of suit socks, after realizing that he had omitted a pair from his gym bag. The humor of his tale (he ultimately had to settle for a pair of women’s socks, stretched to an unrecognizable degree) helped alleviate some of the tension we were all feeling. His willingness to share his story was also an early indicator of the sense of camaraderie that was immediately evident among us, and which only grew stronger as the summer progressed Thus, armed with my relatively recent memories of being a summer associate, I was eager to meet our incoming class and hoped that I would be able to alleviate some of their fears and bond with them over shared experiences. “You did this last summer,” I taunted my friend one day as we prepared for the impending arrival of the summer class, “how hard can it be?” “Well, I imagine you will find it somewhat harder than last summer. You’ll need to do more than just attend the social events this year, you know,” he replied with a grin.I glared at him in mock disgust. If nothing else, I thought to myself, we would be living proof to this year’s summer class that the friendships forged among them would only grow deeper as they progressed through their professional careers. However, before I truly had time to ponder the magnitude of what was about to befall us, the summer associates arrived. Like a summer romance, I feel as if the details of certain moments over the past ten weeks will be with me forever. Rounding them up like skittish colts on their first day, I could still identify where most of them were sitting as 36 pairs of inquisitive eyes turned towards me. Yet, on the whole, the summer seemed to pass in an instant. Looking back, I can’t remember if it was before we learned that several of them were six years old in 1987, or after we had repeatedly declined their invitations to join them on their various escapades after work (which reportedly lasted until the wee small hours of the night) that my fellow coordinator bemoaned, “I think I’m getting old.” I readily agreed. As their sounding board and confidant, it had not taken me long to realize what I had failed to appreciate as a summer associate. Their curiosity was endearing. Their energy was infectious. They were easy to laugh and quick to learn. Yet amid their youthful enthusiasm and exuberance, they also wrestled with demons that have long since ceased to hound me. Did they really want to be lawyers? Was a large firm the right place for them? What if they did not find an area of the law that truly excited them? Would they receive an offer? Should they apply for a clerkship? What if they failed the Bar Exam? What if they failed the Bar Exam twice? For myself, such fears have simply faded away; replaced by everyday. But I was surprised by how quickly I had forgotten. We were summers once, and young.

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