February 26, 2013 by williamsjustliving
The scenario is quite cliche: Law student hired as intern; law student slaves; law student treated quite shabbily.
But, the scenario begs the question WHY. Why? Is it a rite of passage? Hazing? Just the way it has to be? False on all counts. The above scenario is simply an example of people being rude. No more. No less. Law students, please understand that there is no good explanation for why a partner or an associate is just plain old down in the dirt rude to you. Lawyers don’t HAVE to be rude–it’s not a prerequisite. Lawyers, please understand that the intern or extern to whom you were just a douche bag could very well be your co-worker, boss, fellow committee member, or opposing counsel some day soon and very soon.
Rage against the machine by being respectful–and that doesn’t mean that you have to be saintly or a suck-up or a doormat. Law students, be respectful to your classmates and professors. Lawyers, be respectful to your colleagues (including opposing counsel and interns/externs).
Rage against the machine by demanding respect. This rage takes a little more gumption than being respectful. When that associate, partner, or professor starts to take a situation from the realm of professional criticism or chastising into the realm of John McEnroe: there is nothing wrong with standing firm. Of course, there is a risk in standing firm. When you tell Peter Partner, Esq. that you have no intention of missing your final exam to go pick up an order of Krispy Kreme doughnuts you might be putting the final nail in the coffin of your job offer. But, honestly: would you have been happy working with the Partner Firm? Probably not.