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A law student clerking at a large Dallas firm during the summer of 1999 reported to work dressed for success, except for the stud in his tongue. “The young lawyers weren’t bothered by it at all, but some of the more senior people were just appalled,” a partner in the firm says. Eventually an associate took the clerk aside and told him the tongue stud wasn’t helping him maximize his chances of getting an offer of permanent employment. The clerk removed the jewelry. While a tongue stud is a thoroughly modern way for clerks to annoy partners, summer associates have always found ways to astound partners with their outrageous and even irresponsible behavior. Every firm has a few stories, with many of them involving overindulgence in alcohol. (Of course, firms or lawyers at social events often provide the alcohol.) But other summer associate tales illustrate how foolish or greedy or reckless some clerks can be during a time when they are trying to impress lawyers in a position to hire them. Amazingly, weird behavior by clerks doesn’t always rule out job offers. Take the two clerks who punched out partners in a large Houston firm. One incident occurred at a retreat, the other at a nighttime event. Both clerks received offers, according to the firm’s hiring partner. Two female clerks at a Dallas firm also threw some punches — at each other — in a spirited cat fight in a bar. The firm’s hiring partner says they were fighting over a man who happened to be another summer clerk. None are still at the firm, says the partner, although one of the women and the man received offers. A summer clerk at that same Dallas firm sometime during the mid-1980s started having trouble at work because of an active social life. The hiring partner says the clerk was said to be involved in a May/December romance. “He just couldn’t make it in in time,” the partner says. “He basically dropped out for the summer.” There is the legendary clerk who rode a bicycle to work at a large downtown Houston firm, a seven-mile trip each steamy, tropical morning. The clerk was book smart, but apparently not resourceful enough to find a place for a shower. Enough said. “He was just a weird duck,” the firm’s hiring partner says. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz Rack it up to brash behavior or nervousness, but sometimes clerks say what they shouldn’t. A clerk at one firm went to a Texas Rangers baseball game with a couple of lawyers. On the way into the stadium in Arlington, the clerk and his girlfriend were bragging about scamming lawyers at another firm by pocketing the change when lawyers gave them money to buy food at ballgames. So what did the clerk do after the partner gave him a $20 bill to buy some beers? He kept the change, of course. (The firm’s hiring partner says the lawyer had to ask for his change.) Another time, that same Dallas firm chartered a bus to take a number of clerks to a Rangers game. One of the clerks met a woman at the game and missed the bus. He took a cab home and expensed the fare. “It did get paid,” the hiring partner says of the bill from the cab company. “He did not get an offer,” the hiring partner says of the clerk. There must be something about baseball games that bring out the worst in some clerks. A clerk at a different Dallas firm went to a Rangers game with firm tickets. The hiring partner says major businesses have reserved seats in that area, and everyone knows which companies have reserved seats. Unfortunately, the clerk must have thought he was in the bleachers in Wrigley Field in Illinois, and started yelling obscenities to players. A report of his behavior got back to the firm. Then there’s the time when a clerk at a Dallas firm, who was at a dinner with a number of lawyers, told a senior female partner to “chill out.” The firm’s hiring partner says the clerk got an offer, but didn’t accept it. The hiring partner at another Dallas firm recalls an incident when a summer clerk was drinking coffee with a number of lawyers, of all levels, who were talking about litigation assignments. A very senior partner in the firm suggested the clerk might find a particular case helpful in his research. The clerk asked the partner to make him a copy at the law library and to drop it off at his office. The senior partner didn’t do it, according to the hiring partner. About 10 years ago, at a poolside gathering at a partner’s house, another clerk at that firm thought it would be funny to push a very senior female partner into the pool. The partner wasn’t wearing a bathing suit. She didn’t find it amusing at all, according to the hiring partner. Firms may sometimes overlook truly outrageous behavior, chalking it up to a few too many beers or youthful indiscretion, but not always. The hiring partner in a Dallas firm recalls a time when he was getting ready to take some summer clerks to lunch. But one of the clerks wasn’t ready to go; he was vomiting in the restroom; he had been on a drinking binge the night before. The partner says the clerk looked pale and very ill, but offered to go to lunch and watch everyone eat. The partner says he declined the offer. The hiring partner at another Dallas firm vividly recalls one summer clerk who regularly brown-bagged his lunch. He didn’t network by going to lunch with associates or partners. But lunching with lawyers would have prevented him from taking a nap each day; during the siestas, he stretched out on top of his desk. He didn’t get an offer. Summer associates must be sleep-deprived. The hiring partner at a large Houston firm says one summer clerk had a reputation of napping at his desk. One day a lawyer walked into his office to talk about a project. The clerk had been napping but apparently thought he roused himself in time that the lawyer didn’t notice. The clerk spent the next 10 minutes discussing work. The lawyer walked out and, seconds later, a paper clip fell off the clerk’s forehead.

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