Lawyers Continued: Summer Associates – Part II

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

In Part I of this series, I wrote about the talented Summer Associates (clerks) that my law firm (Schwabe Williamson and Wyatt) and other large law firms hire as clerks during the first and second summers they are in law school. https://thebeerchaser.com/2021/05/27/lawyers-continued-summer-associates-part-i/

StudentLounge

(*1  Attribution for the photos not taken by Don Williams is at the end of this post.)

They are smart and motivated and the competition is intense – both among the firms who compete for the best students and among those applying.  They know this opportunity is a stepping stone for a good job in their chosen field after they graduate and pass the Bar Exam.

In the last post, readers saw a compendium of the languages in which three of the classes of Summer Associates (2005 and 2006-7) were proficient, as well as prior jobs and/or occupations on their resumes before they started law school.   A number had interesting work histories and waited until they had some real-world experience before they began their graduate education.  

I compiled these lists in addition to the categories below as part of the full-day orientation they received in June before they started their legal work.  Rather than boring them with information about law firm management which they would forget, I used the data we collected from their questionnaires.  I tried to convey why they should get to know their fellow clerks and why they should feel proud about being in that group.

Hobbies and Interests

While they were top students, they also were well-rounded and had eclectic pursuits when not working or studying:

Backpacking, rock band; playing the violin, cello, hand-bells, piano, harmonica, oboe (second-chair in community orchestra) drums, guitar, African drums (these were not all the same clerk!), country line dancing, karaoke, country music and Latin poetry (these were from the same person) and gardening.

Ballet (ten years), horror movies, British literature, reading non-fiction and collecting classic comic books.  Gourmet cooking and eating!

Since there were some lawyer-league sports, we also asked them about their athletic talent and experience:

Golf (“Law school made my game go dormant.”), Notre Dame Football (This may have been watching rather than playing.), basketball, softball, tennis, cross country (University of Portland Cross County Team and ran in the Venice Marathon), skiing, snowboarding, yoga, weightlifting.

Juggling (balls and juggling sticks but not pins – we also found out if she could juggle legal assignments), Karate (all-Japan and All-American – five time Karate champion.  He was also the bodyguard when they went to bars after work.). Surfing, skiing, rollerblading and mountain climbing.  Cycling (rode from Spokane to Denver — Why??!)  

Higher Education Besides Law School

As I stated above, these people were motivated and a number had graduate degrees in addition to law school:

Masters Degrees in Engineering, Sociology, Education, Business Administration, Biomedical Engineering.  Graduate Study at the United Nations in Geneva. Ph D in Material Sciences and Engineering (had studied at Oxford) (See narrative below on Intellectual Property candidates)

In 2002, Schwabe merged with a small Oregon Intellectual Property Firm – Columbia IP – founded by Al AuYeung, who built and managed a thriving IP Practice Group (patent, trademark, copyright, trade secrets and IP litigation) in the Schwabe Portland and Seattle offices, until his retirement this year. 

Most of the other lawyers had been liberal arts majors such as Political Science or Economics with a few Business majors, etc.  But these IP lawyers not only had attended law school and passed the State Bar, but were also members of the Federal Patent Bar, which required another challenging exam

.

In addition, besides their undergraduate degrees, most of them also had Masters and even a few PhD’s in physics, computer science, engineering mathematics or chemistry, etc.  For example, Al besides graduating from Santa Clara Law School, also had an MS in Engineering from Stanford and an MBA in Finance from U Cal Berkley.

I helped interview one young IP associate prospect who had actually worked as a rocket scientist before law school.  At the end of the interview, I couldn’t help myself and asserted with a smile, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that you would be a good fit at this firm.”  Notwithstanding this embarrassing attempt at humor, he still came to work for us.

Each year at the all-attorney retreat in the fall, the lawyers and management staff from all offices would gather at some nice resort for an entire weekend with great food and drink, continuing legal education, a firm business meeting, golf, hiking and general revelry. Did I mention – also plentiful food and drink…..

After the dinner on Friday night before a band and dancing, the new associates would make their traditional introductory appearance and sing their undergraduate school fight song and relate what their most challenging college course had been.

Now the liberal arts majors would come up with something like “The Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida,” or there was an Economics Major who impressed us at one retreat with  “Understanding International Finance Through Game Theory and Evolutionary Stability.” 

With the advent of IP associates, these science and math geeks rolled off such offerings as “Formulae for Calculating Motion in One and Two Dimensions or “Non-Equilibrium Applications of Statistical Thermodynamics.”  If I remember correctly, after two years we decided to forego this tradition, because it made a lot of us feel intellectually deficient.

I might add that one might think that men and women who were so erudite and left-brained would tend to be socially awkward.  For example, one of the Summer Associates headed for the IP Group had even “developed a method to manufacture micro-electric mechanical systems using stereo lithography.”   

Rather than being interpersonally inept, however, the exact opposite was almost always the case.  This is another plaudit for Al AuYueng, who had the wisdom to hire people who were not only cerebral, but also personable.

So, it was always enjoyable to have a beer with these lawyers who would be talking about concepts such as the radius of gyration, angular momentum or foreign trademark registration with their clients at their desks in the afternoon, but then were great conversationalists while raising a mug after work.

Volunteer and Civic Activities

These young people were getting into a profession where advocacy for others is a key part of the job and in which pro-bono work is a tradition – and they came well prepared.  They had done work in the following positions or organizations:

Advocate for immigrant families, Meals on Wheels driver, domestic violence counselor, Habit for Humanity, homeless advocacy, classroom tutor, Peace Corps, Vista, AmeriCorps, Young Life, UNICEF, Legal Aid, volunteer for early childhood development, political campaign for city council candidate, pediatric medical clinic, men’s shelter, animal shelter, Boys and Girls Club, soup kitchen.

Wining and Dining Opportunities While Clerking

Part of the recruitment process was interacting with the summer associates over food or drinks at local bistros and watering holes.  We had asked on the questionnaires for their food preferences and also what they wanted to avoid.   The responses for preferences included breakfast food at all times of the day, anything with chocolate, anything with beef and seafood.

Conversely, one clerk emphasized that he could not eat shell fish and detested anything with beef.   One was also emphatic about what everyone should avoid based on his 45-page paper for bio-ethics class entitled, “Cloned Animal Products in the Human Food Chain.”

We tried to make a good impression with these kids and it was natural for the lawyers to take them to the more elite restaurants.  Besides, the firm was picking up the check (one reason that many lawyers went out to more lunches and dinners during the summer than any other time during the year….).

Now Portland has a wealth of great bistros downtown, but to our Director of Recruiting’s chagrin, I decided for a change of pace (and style) when I took the clerks out.  Rather than a popular spot like Jake’s Famous Crawfish or lunch in one of the high-rise office building grilles, we’d walk two blocks to a little hole-in-the-wall (below ground) Middle Eastern restaurant named Mummy’s

It’s owned by two fascinating Egyptian brothers, Phillip and Ghobvial Moumir who had operated for many years in the same location.

For the full review, check out my 2016 post-retirement blog post entitled “Mummy’s – a (Buried) Portland Treasure.”  in which I Beerchased with two of my favorite and now retired Schwabe partners, Brian (Brain) King and Margaret Hoffmann, who shared my affinity for this eatery.

There were usually no more than a handful of patrons and the brothers always directed the students and me to the same table for some of their reasonably priced and really delicious cuisine..

And I had a smile on my face when the Recruiting exec came to my office after the first visit and said, “Don, they raved about Mummy’s and how they want to return again before they leave this summer!”  Word spread and I always had requests from a number of clerks each summer to include them on the list for Mummy’s.

A Final Summer Associate Success Story

It was early in 2002 and some of the Summer Associate candidates had come to the Portland office for interviews.  I walked down to our Recruiting Director’s office.  She was on the phone and a male candidate (Jeff Hern from Willamette University Law School) was standing by her desk waiting for her to finish a telephone conversation. 

He was holding his resume, so I asked if I could glance at it.  Our conversation went like this after I had reviewed it:

Williams:  I see that you graduated from Madeira High School (a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio) and were inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame.  I lived in Madeira from the time I was four until we moved to Oregon when I was eleven.  Did you know the Nelson Kennedy family?

Hern: Yes, as a matter of fact, his son was a teammate on the MHS Basketball Team.

Williams:  Nelson was my best friend in grade school which was the last time I saw him.  I’ve talked to him once or twice since because he was two classes ahead of my younger brother, Garry,  at West Point.  Nelson was one of the reasons Garry ended up at the Military Academy and they see each other quite often.

I gave him my card, wished him luck and told him to stay in touch.  A few days later, I received a nice letter acknowledging our visit and stating that he was impressed with Schwabe.  I then talked to our Recruiter and told her that I hoped we made an offer to him.

From that point on, I continued to lobby for him as the competition was stiff for clerk slots. (I also reminded her that besides having good grades and recommendations, our Lawyer League Basketball Team could use Jeff’s experience as a good power forward.)

When I got his letter, I talked to my wife, Janet, that night at dinner and our conversation went like this:

Williams:  Remember the guy from Willamette Law School I told you about who lived in Madeira and knew the son of my best friend.  Well, he sent a great letter, which I think reflects well on him.

Janet: (laughing) Yeah, he’s smart!  I can see him going back to Willamette and saying to his classmates.  “Have I got an inroad at Schwabe.  I met this old guy who is the COO. I’m writing a letter to get him on my side.  I think his generation likes that kind of thing.”

Jeff was hired in 2004 and flash forward seventeen years and he’s now an Equity Partner at Schwabe.  He has a robust practice and represents manufacturing, energy, healthcare, and food and beverage companies in litigation, federal, and state court proceedings from early alternative dispute resolution through trial. 

He has considerable experience defending in product liability, tort actions, commercial disputes and water rights adjudications.

The young counselor also has developed a specialty in licensing issues for food and beverage companies and was very helpful with pro-bono advice when I was assisting with the licensing of the Benedictine Brewery in Mount Angel.  (I told Jeff, he owed me for lobbying on his behalf and pointed out that his athletic ability was the deciding factor in his selection.)

Jeff and his wife, Lindsay, (Janet and I went to their wedding.) now have three beautiful daughters and he didn’t disappoint us with his elbow jumper during the competition in the other court in which he showed his skill.  His batting average in softball was also quite high.

The Hern Family

I’ll end this story by adding another highlight of my friendship with Jeff.  Of course, when Jeff got hired, I called Nelson (mentioned above) – who at Miami Hills Elementary, I nicknamed “Moose” because of his size. 

We agreed that it was time to reunite after forty-six years and he flew out to Oregon for several days.  He, Jeff and I skied at Mt. Hood and I followed up with a visit to Cincinnati five years later when I was there for a Legal Management conference.

# Photo Attribution

  1. Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons  (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StudentLounge.JPG)   Author: Cstpierre 9/15/07
  2. Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fantastic_Comics_1.jpg) Grand Comic Book Database (http://www.comics.org/details.lasso?id=574)  Original uploader was Konczewski at English Wikipedia.   1/9/2007
  3. Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:16-hole_chrom_10-hole_diatonic.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author: George Leung
  4. Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:5_ball_juggling.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author: James Hellman, MD.
  5. Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zen_Do_Kai_karate.jpg   Author: Pxhere 7/7/2015
  6. Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hydrogen_Density_Plots.png)  Released into the public domain by its author, PoorLeno at English Wikipedia.  8/17/2008
  7. Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Jyntohttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemistry#/media/File:Benzene-2D-full.svg)  Author: Jynto  8/25/2010
  8. Public Doman – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Torque_animation.gif)  Author: Yawe 2/211/2008
  9. Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US-PeaceCorps-Logo-alt.svg)  Author: Grondle 8/10
  10. Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_100830-N-5647H-054_Airman_Bryan_Pickett_serves_bread_to_the_community_of_the_Daily_Bread_Soup_Kitchen_as_part_of_Baltimore_Navy_Week.jpg)  
  11. Facebook page Jakes Famous Crawfish (https://www.facebook.com/JakesFamousCrawfish/photos/a.350687678313545/1936162349766062)

3 thoughts on “Lawyers Continued: Summer Associates – Part II

  1. You had me at “Derrida” – shades of literary theory! And then clinched it with Mummy’s. Loved that place. Downed many an icy beverage on hot summer days…You’re having fun writing all this and the rest of us are having fun reading it.

    Moll

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for your comment, Molly. And why doesn’t it surprise me that you knew and loved Mummy’s. Yes, after writing boring management memos for years, Thebeerchaser is a fun journey.

    Like

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