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The New York Times -- July 15, 2007

Fancy lunches at top restaurants have long been a perk for summer law associates. At several big New York firms, a growing number of “summers” are opting instead to chow down at less expensive places like Chipotle.

At Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, the downgrading from boeuf to burrito is part of a program called “Chow for Charity.” Summer associates who go out to lunch with a staff lawyer have a budget of $60 each. If they opt to spend $15 or less, the firm donates $45 a person to a nonprofit legal organization.

Last summer, Simpson Thatcher raised $49,700 via the program, up from $27,000 in 2005, said Ken Ziman, a partner at the firm. Lawyers like having lunch with a summer associate because it means a faster meal, not the typical, time-sapping 1.5 hours, Mr. Ziman said.

These efforts are part of an emerging trend to add a touch of social conscience to lavish recruiting practices for top students in a competitive market, said James G. Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Legal Placement, a trade association that serves law firm recruiters and law schools. “This generation has a desire to do community work,” Mr. Leipold said.

Should summer associates crave fine dining, their salaries may help. An associate at Simpson makes $3,080 a week. LOUISE KRAMER