During my second interview for a summer associate position, I was sitting at a conference table with three Scopelitis attorneys - a partner, a senior associate and one of the newest associates - and innocently inquired about partner and associate interaction. Without missing a beat, the partner slipped off his shoe and slid it down the conference room table to the younger associate with an instruction to "Shine that" - and then all three of them erupted with the kind of genuine laughter that only people who are more than just acquaintances can share. I'm sure this moment of levity was followed by a serious answer about partner and associate interaction, but I don't quite recall the response. After experiencing partner-associate interaction over the years, I can honestly say that, on a daily basis, it's really more about attorney interaction. This is not a place about labels; it is a place about respect.
In retrospect, I don't remember the projects I worked on during my summer clerkship. What I will never forget, however, is how much I felt like a "real attorney" during that summer. Granted, I felt like a first-year associate who was not quite sure exactly how to practice law, but an attorney, nonetheless. The work was challenging, and I was invigorated by the responsibility I was given to deal directly with clients or, in some instances, opposing counsel. But beyond the actual legal work, I attended all the attorney meetings and was exposed, for the first time, to many of the other aspects of practicing law - marketing, personnel, billing, computer issues, and the list goes on. I remember very distinctly sitting in a meeting at which a somewhat delicate personnel issue was being discussed and thinking "I'm just a clerk, I shouldn't be hearing this." At the end of the summer when I received an offer of employment, I felt comfortable that I knew what it would be like to work here as an associate - and that it was the right place for me.
What I came to learn during the summer of '94 is that Scopelitis attorneys love practicing law and truly enjoy working with the people who share their halls. Looking at it from this side of the bar, I feel the same way.