One of the most persistent mistakes legal professionals make is to not understand the importance of "fitting in" in their work environment. Indeed, fitting in is something that both enables you to get and keep a job. In terms of what it takes to succeed in the practice of law over the long term, "fitting in" may actually be more important than your skill level.
Sent: Monday, June 05, 2000 2:51 PM
Subject: The Now Infamous  Charity Auction Debacle...
Here is the story of what happened to me this weekend at my firm's retreat. That's the last time I ever drink before an auction:
Aaron and I decide to leave for the Silverado Ranch by car instead of taking the bus at 2 pm. You have not lived until you've ridden through three hours of Bay Area traffic with Aaron at the wheel. By the time we got to Silverado, he was madder than fire.
The first reception starts at like 6pm. There are finger foods, etc., and lots and lots of wine and beer. Not really liking any of the food, I start drinking. Heavily. By the time I know what's going on, I'm talking to the name partner, Bill Fenwick, in a redneck accent. Of course, he is from Kentucky, so we talked about basketball for an hour. It was great.
About 9pm the charity auction began. There were lots of "Fenwick" type items, like a dinner cooked by the managing partner, etc. One of the items was an entire night chauffeured by the hiring partner, [John]. In my inebriated stupor, I thought that if I won this, then they would have no choice but to give me an offer. The bidding starts at $50. People are bidding here and there, but I get tired of all the slow bidding, so I stand on my chair, and hold up my bidding card. Without getting down. So the auctioneer takes this as a cue to just start yelling price increases, without even identifying other bidders.
When the price hits about $800, [John] says that he will pay half if a summer associate wins. The bidding automatically doubles (John is a litigator). As the price gets to $2000, I think I have the thing won. I get the "going once" call, and then this other summer, Aparna, goaded on by some partners, decides that she has to beat me. So the bidding hits $2600, and before I know it, I'm on stage, taking the mike from the auctioneer, and yelling at Aparna to stop bidding. My exact quote, "Aparna, seriously, stop. I have to win, this is the only way I'm getting an offer."
So that just inspires more partners/attorneys/recruiting staff to contribute to Aparna's pool. When the bidding hits $3400, I start yelling, on the mike, about how this isn't fair, because she has partners bankrolling her, but I only have a "few scrubby summers in my corner." I keep trying to bid only like $5 more than her, but the auctioneer gets all mad at me, and is making me bid in hundred dollar increments. When her bid hits $3800, I get back on stage. After some banter, the auctioneer asks me if I want to bid $3900.
I ponder this for a second, and in front of the whole firm and spouses/significant others, with the mike in my face, say, "Fuck it--go ahead."
I won the auction.
a. I believe one attorney was hired for a $200,000+ a year job over more qualified candidates because he, like the partner who hired him, enjoyed surfing;
b. I believe one attorney was hired because she attended the same religious group as the hiring partner;
c. I believe one attorney was hired because she had formerly followed the Grateful Dead like a partner in the firm;
d. I believe one attorney was hired because of his military background; and,
e. I believe one attorney was hired because of her ongoing participation in a controversial protest organization.
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