Monday, May 23, 2005

I learned this morning that on Friday after work, a dozen of our summer associates decided among themselves to go out for drinks, and ended up staying out until three in the morning, finally ending up at a strip club. Normally this isn't something that ends up on my radar screen. These are all adults, and, at least while they're summers, we don't particularly care what they do on their time off. But the reason I've learned about this, and why it's now on my plate to deal with, is because this morning they submitted the receipts to the recruiting coordinator and asked if the firm would reimburse them, as an "informal summer associate gathering." The pitch one of them made to the recruiter was that the firm pays for all sorts of trips to bars throughout the summer program, and lots of other events, all designed for the summers to get to know each other and get to know the firm. And since this activity was entirely summer associates, they feel like it's the same kind of event the firm usually pays for, and don't think it's an inappropriate request. This is a problem.

What's compounding the issue is that the recruiter tells me that last year, there was an instance where a full-time associate took a handful of summers to this same strip club, submitted the receipt as a generic summer associate entertainment expense, no one bothered to check what the expense was for, and he got reimbursed. So the recruiter thinks we should reimburse the summer associates, because simply drawing the line at "was there an associate there?" especially so early in the summer, when we do want the summers to bond as a group, doesn't make any sense.

My inclination, on the other hand, is to fire everyone who went. Not because they went, but because by asking for reimbursement they've brought the firm into it, and I think that sense of entitlement is appalling. That kind of entitlement is for partners, not summer associates. It's true that we pay for a lot of drinking over the summer, and it's true that we pay for a lot of meals and other events, and it's true that we paid the drunk driving fine and legal fees for someone who was pulled over by the police on the way back from a summer associate event last year. But those were firm-sanctioned events that we planned, not just something that a group of summer associates decided on their own to do. When we pay, we want control of the event. We want the ultimate authority. This was something they chose to do, on their own, without the firm. So why should we pay for it?

Of course we're not actually going to fire the summer associates involved. That would be a public relations disaster, in part because if we did it would get out that we reiumbursed the strip club trip last summer, but also because, as I've written about before, we can't fire any summer associates or none will want to work here next summer. In the end, it looks like we're going to reimburse the summers, but give them a stern warning that next time we will not be so generous. It's important that they realize there's a limit to the excesses we're comfortable with. The sixty-dollar lunches are okay; an eighty-dollar lunch would not be okay, except on Fridays.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?