There is a certain type of lawyer who is not a lawyer at all. At best, he’s a fictional lawyer, a make-believe lawyer, a pretend lawyer. Though skilled at imitating a lawyer in dress, language, and attitude, he is no more a lawyer than the miserable sad sack who’s failed the bar exam seven times. If this type of lawyer offered legal advice to a corporate client, he would likely be sued; if he appeared in court to argue a motion, he would likely be arrested.
We call this sort of lawyer-who-isn’t-a-lawyer a “big firm summer associate.” Although he is not a lawyer, he may in fact believe he’s a lawyer. And why not? Indeed, he is surrounded by enablers, who slap him on the back and take him to lunch and tell him he’s a regular Oliver Wendell Holmes. It’s no wonder he’s deluded. It’s no wonder that only one week into June, he’s answering the phone in a barking tone of voice; or that before the month is up, he’s yelling at his secretary in the public lobby.
But perhaps this snapshot isn’t fair. In truth, who is deceiving whom? Though it may seem these “big firm summer associates” stand naked before the world, tiny little lawyer-emperors without clothes, they are also collecting weekly paychecks as large as any lawyer’s, even larger, in fact, than three-quarters of the lawyers in all of Arkansas and Tennessee. In the final analysis, that’s the point worth making. Anyone who can scam the scammers as effectively as this—well, they deserve our unwavering praise, even if we wouldn’t want them reviewing our contracts.[Like this post? It's one of many included in my book How to Feed a Lawyer (And Other Irreverent Oberservations from the Legal Underground). Details here.]
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