Posted Aug 19, 2013 03:17 pm CDT
In what may be the best prank of the season, a Chicago law firm put an actor to work as a purported summer associate among its actual hires during their first week of employment.
Partner Jay Edelson tells the ABA Journal the idea was to to help break the ice and get law students relaxed and interacting with each other as they marveled over the conduct of the ringer among them.
“He wasn’t dorky, he was kind of overly familiar, you know, the type of person who was clearly snowing us, always had a snappy answer but was kind of full of it,” Edelson said Thursday, explaining that “Scotty Larson,” knowing the Edelson firm is big on beach volleyball, tells the other summer associates he used to play beach volleyball professionally. Meanwhile, “he’s totally unathletic, and he’s not tall.”
In a video that was used to reveal the joke at a law firm party on the first Friday after the new summer hires started work, Edelson briefs the actor, who is a purported UCLA law graduate, on what to do before he starts the Edelson gig. At one point, the partner suggests to the actor, Jesse Thurston, that he make clear he has hired a third party (another actor who is also present at the video session) to do his actual work for him.
“They never see you do work,” says Edelson on the video, as the group chuckles. “You’ve hired an out-of-work attorney, you’re paying the guy 20 bucks an hour, he’s doing all the work for you,” he tells Thurston, explaining that his work will be treated “like gold” and get raves from those in charge of the firm. “And you don’t understand the brief, right? Because you just hired someone else to do it.”
A visit or two by Scotty’s girlfriend also catches the attention of the other new hires, as she photographs what’s going on at Edelson’s offices.
The 22-attorney firm has been in business about seven years, and focuses on plaintiffs’ consumer technology and privacy class actions, “so it’s not a stuffy place at all,” Edelson tells the ABA Journal. “We did some sort of icebreaker every year. This was the one that we carried on the longest.”
The idea was to have some fun, but not make summer associates feel that they were a target, and bring the group together by giving them something to talk about after hours, he explained. “We thought it was pretty successful.”
When the joke was revealed, however, it turned out the law students may have gotten the last laugh. Edelson said he was handed a signed, dated envelope when the video played, in which the summer associates had noted, a day or two earlier, “we think that he is a plant and the whole thing is a prank.”
Hat tip: Above the Law.