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When the sticky New York summer rolls around, the summer associates roll into the major NYC law firms. In addition to work experience, these budding lawyers enjoy fat paychecks for a few months — a welcome change from student life. But this year’s summer associates do not get by on cash alone. With the top firms vying for their long-term love and devotion, recruiting coordinators do their best to ensure that summer associates are never bored. Associates are wooed with hands-on participation in big-firm legal work, huge parties at swank joints all over New York, meals at four-star restaurants, and trips on high-speed “cigarette” motor boats. Not to mention those expense account lunches. Between weekly formal events and almost daily spontaneous gatherings, a summer associate’s life is never dull (and their stomach is never empty). FIRST-YEAR ASSOCIATE LIGHT Being a summer associate involves more than just pencil pushing. For example, at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, summer associates sit in on depositions, closings, and firm meetings. A lucky few have even been on short trips to offices in Singapore and Hong Kong. Bruce Yannett, the partner overseeing the summer associate program at Debevoise & Plimpton says, “We try very hard to give them realistic exposure to regular associate work. In complexity and importance it is similar to the work of a first-year associate — just not as much of it. But we are up front about that.” Some New York firms also provide their summer associates with formal training programs to prepare them for life as an attorney. Along with seminars geared specifically towards summer associates, Shearman & Sterling host a “Deal-a-Rama” in which summer associates take part in a two-day mock M&A deal. Many firms take on extra pro bono assignments in the summer months as well. At Shearman, summer associates are assigned short-term projects and try to accommodate their summer’s special interests. Debevoise accepts more pro bono in the summers for clients like the Community Law Offices. Whatever the summer associates don’t complete in time is mopped up by associates after the students go back to school. PARTYING IN THE BIG APPLE But being a summer associate is also about fun, parties, and perks. Firms are footing the bill for major cocktail parties at some impressive locales. Milbank Tweed summers were impressed by a huge firm-wide turnout at a Battery Park welcoming party, with most associates and partners — including firm chairman Mel Immergut — in attendance. Shearman and Milbank Tweed both organized cocktail parties at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Associates enjoyed stiff drinks and hors-d’oeuveres in the sculpture garden and the more artistically inclined summer associates received tours of MoMA’s collections. Debevoise planned an event in the same place, but decided to move their party at the Cooper-Hewitt due to labor issues looming at MoMA. One Debevoise summer was thrilled by the “very enjoyable” event, complaining only that — if this is even a complaint at all — “the drinks were a little strong — my gin and tonic was about 95 percent gin.” In case anyone thinks white shoe law firms organize only staid, prim and proper events for their summer associates, think again. A recent Stroock party featured karaoke at downtown New York bar 147. It was a raucous night indeed, with partners, associates, and summer associates enjoying drinks, food, and their colleague’s renditions of Madonna’s “Vogue,” among other hits. When the karaoke ended, the party didn’t, as the Stroock group moved on to Bar 13 and danced to British pop and new wave until the wee hours. Many associates have great parties to look forward to in the upcoming months. In July, Debevoise associates will be partying down at new Midtown hot spot Guastavino’s while Stroock associates will end their summer at the classy Windows on the World. SAILING THROUGH THE SUMMER In addition to parties, firms are taking their associates outdoors to enjoy all of what summer in New York has to offer. Milbank Tweed sent their summer associates to a thrilling lunch hour on “The Beast,” a high speed “super boat” that left the associates breathless but complaining of shoes stained by the Hudson River’s less-than-pristine waters. One of the most popular events of the summer at Debevoise is the firm’s annual canoe trip in Connecticut. Debevoise summer associates are also treated to sailing at the South St. Seaport in lower Manhattan. Perhaps to test their resourcefulness, Milbank Tweed sends their summer associates all over the city on a partner-organized scavenger hunt. OH THOSE LUNCHES! The big events are exciting, but lunches are the real lifeblood of summer associates. With the firm footing the bill, future lawyers get to experience the best the Big Apple has to offer. Vault.com informally polled a few associates to find out some of this summer’s favorites. “Nobu is great!” declare sushi fans. Carnivores tell us that Sparks is the best steakhouse (A Milbank summer associate reports “We had a table of eight and everyone ordered steaks and wine, and we basically wrote off the afternoon”), edging out the venerable Peter Luger. Also popular is haute cuisine hot spot Bouley Bakery. FREEBIES GALORE Then of course, you can’t forget the other perks. When they’re not being wined and dined, associates are showered with gym memberships, tickets to sporting events and Broadway plays (“Aida” is this year’s hot show). Firms also provide their summer recruits with the tools of the trade, including attache cases and umbrellas emblazoned with firm logos. While the well-to-do summer associates may scoff at the thought of wearing their firm’s brand name, no one at Stroock is complaining — their firm gave them ultra-hip Manhattan Portage messenger bags. All this attention has given summer associates a favorable taste of their firms. One Debevoise associate says he “can’t plug away for Debevoise enough.” And a Milbank summer tells Vault.com he was at first skeptical about the overall experience but now has “nothing but praise.” It seems the efforts made by firms to build the foundations of a long-term relationship have not gone unnoticed among their summer hires.

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