For the most part, associates have no real effect on the outcome of a deal or a case—or anything of real consequence, for that matter. The one place we can really shine—or really fail—is proofreading. When I was at Skadden, I remember hearing that a well-regarded senior associate was passed over for partner three years in a row because he distributed a merger agreement with a “significant typo” in it. Not sure if it’s true, but sure seems possible. And that’s the thing about big firms, one little screw up, and you’re dead. On the other hand, if you actually find a typo or two, and your boss (who in this episode is played by the talented Michael B. Silver) is in a good mood, you’re suddenly a hero.
One associate I worked with years ago loved to brag that he was the firm’s best typo-hunter and would challenge me to typo-bets. Needless to say he won every single time. PS—He’s a partner now.
This episode is simply a riff on the ridiculous ways young lawyers earn their reputation and become “superstars.” The tiniest things get blown out of proportion. Finding a stupid typo—something that has no real significance—can turn a regular associate into a legend. The worst part is, as an associate, you actually sort of believe it. You actually feel like a rock star for finding a goddamn typo. Which is fine, I guess, as long as you don’t have a date that night with a cute “civilian” who doesn’t quite understand the whole typo/street-cred thing.
Again, when you’re billing 2400 hours a year and proofing documents with a zeal typically reserved for curing fatal diseases, it’s tough to relate to regular people—and it’s even tougher for them to relate to you. At least that was my experience. And now it’s Nick’s too.
Interesting tidbit: Nick’s (John T. Woods) cute blind date is played by Jen Lyon, a semi-finalist on Survivor: Palau.