I don’t consider myself to be too much of a misogynist. Yes, I visit massage parlors and I watch the Spice channel, but when it comes to work, I think I treat almost everyone equally. Honestly, I don’t think BigLaw is nearly as much of a boy’s club as some industries. I truly believe that women get a fair shake—no better and no worse than their male colleagues. That said, there is one, tiny segment of the workforce that might get a bit of special treatment: the hot female summer. But while this rare breed may get special treatment from most of the male attorneys, she usually gets a Cobra Kai legsweep from the female attorneys. And in my experience, those two opposite forces tend to come out in the wash.
This summer, my friend Libby (typical chip-on-her-shoulder, decent-looking, single and miserable associate) decided to pick on Amy (runaway winner of the “hot summer who probably won’t be a lawyer for very long because some hedge fund dude will scoop her up” sweepstakes).
Amy clearly was aware of her effect on the male attorneys and rocked it. Lunches, dinners, baseball games, you name it. Amy’s cakewalk made Libby decided to pretend to be friends with Amy, and she gave her a bunch of assignments and called herself “mentor.” She hustled with aplomb to turn Amy into a miserable Libby clone.
Now, I’m not stupid enough to actually rely on Summers for work output. As we all know, they don’t know anything. Honestly, any attorney who blames a mistake on a Summer Associate should be fired. Immediately. You may as well say, “Sorry, billion-dollar client, the Chinese delivery guy forgot to deliver our food, so now we can’t close the deal. It’s all his fault.”
Libby had yet to understand that Summers are to learn and socially impress enough to—hopefully—get an offer. Expecting actual job performance out them is absurd. So I’m not really sure why Libby got all bent out of shape when a harmless extracurricular activity deprived her of Amy’s services for an afternoon.
One of my favorite partners (previously mentioned) scored some tickets to this year’s U.S. Open, I invited Amy. Sure, maybe it would have made more sense to take a male Summer who actually has an interest in golf—I believe Amy’s exact response was, “Oh, great, I love tennis!”—but there weren’t any male Summers I wanted to see in a tight, white polo shirt on a rainy afternoon.
After a fun-filled day of chugging beers and watching Mickelson blow it yet again, we returned to the office where I found an angry voicemail from my Libby, bitching me out for taking “her Summer” without “running it by” her first. Apparently, Libby had Amy working on a closing checklist for a deal that was two weeks to closing.
Two weeks? Sound the alarms! The house is on fire!
Slightly inebriated, I returned her call.
Me: Libs, you need to relax.
Libby: She can’t just disappear for the day. She’s working for me.
Me: Look, it wasn’t my call. Partner demanded that we take Amy. Who am I to argue?
Libby: That’s a lie. And I’m listing it in her review. She should have declined your sleazy offer.
Me: Are you for real? You’re going give her a bad review because she went to a golf outing?
Libby: No. I’m going to give her a bad review because she thinks that she gets to be held to a lower standard because she’s cute.
Me: You’re a sad, jealous freak. I’m simultaneously aroused and revolted.
Libby: Screw you! [Click]
With that, Libby wrote a scathing review of Amy, perhaps jeopardizing her career. Was it warranted? Absolutely not. But apparently, Libby planned to blast Amy for a few typos in her first assignment anyway.
Personally, I think it’s a sliding scale. If you’re an 8, you can make 8 typos; if you’re a 6, you can make 6; if you’re heinous, better have an eagle eye.
Now, I have no idea how women interact behind close doors. I always assume it’s a lot like every scene from The Devil Wears Prada.
Amy: I feel like we got on the wrong foot, I’m sorry if there was a misunderstanding.
Libby: There was no misunderstanding, but I’m willing to put it in the past and give you a chance to redeem yourself. I’m going to give you another assignment.
Amy: Well, I just feel like if maybe we don’t work that well together, it might be best for me to work with another associate.
Libby: I’m going to give you a minute to think about what you just said and let you change your answer if you want.
Amy (grudgingly): Okay, I’d be happy to take on another assignment from you.
At least that’s how I imagine it went down. Whatever happened, Libby assigned her something new and later added a line at the bottom of her scathing review: “Despite these shortcomings, we are now working on a new deal, and Amy is performing adequately.”
I know because Amy came to my office and told me all of this. She seemed a bit shaken by it. I debated whether to lock my door and prey on her vulnerability or to actually help save her career. Face it—one bad review in this climate and you are working at some immigration shop. Since Amy’s relationship with her boyfriend seemed pretty unbreakable, I decided to be MacGruber and try to diffuse the Libby bomb.
It really wasn’t that hard. I knew Partner would see it my way.
Me: Partner, we have a problem.
Me: Yeah, she thinks she’s all principled and shit.
Partner: I say we make them have a catfight in my office.
Me: Great idea. So what are you going do about Libby’s review, it’s pretty harsh.
Partner: If I can’t handle a tight-ass associate picking on a hot Summer, I have no business being partner, Matt.
Partner then called Libby in and let me stay for the fireworks.
Partner: So Libby, seriously, what’s your issue with Amy?
Libby: I don’t have an issue. She didn’t do a great job on the deals she worked on.
Partner: Everyone else gave her solid reviews and said her work product was good.
Libby: Everyone else meaning you and Matt?
Partner: What are you trying to say?
Libby: Just because she is hot, you are giving her a pass.
Partner: That’s ridiculous, Libby. You need to watch what you are saying. Or, just drop it.
Libby: She disappeared when she had an assignment and went with you guys to a golf tournament. She should have asked me if it was okay, and then I probably would have said yes.
Partner: It doesn’t matter what you would have said. If I decide she’s going, that’s the end of it.
Libby: Why did you even call me in here then if you’re just going to ignore my review?
Partner: I just wanted to get to the bottom of your issues with her. And frankly, this looks more like a catfight than a work issue.
Libby stormed out in a huff. I followed her down the hall to see what her next move would be. Libby never understands the phrase “Just drop it.”
Libby: Oh, he’s really done it now. That conversation is going in the file.
Me: There’s a file? What file.
Apparently many, many female associates with chips on their shoulders keep files of all the times they have been slighted, unfairly left out, subjected to lewd conversations, or harassed. I suppose that’s the lawyerly thing to do, but if the men in the office kept a similar file, I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be much of a gender gap should we ever get down to doing some real comparative analysis.
Me: You don’t have a file on me, do you?
Libby: You are SO lucky we are friends. But I promise you, SOMEONE has a file on you.
Great. As if I didn’t have enough to worry about. Amy’s on her own.