I love email

(I am not usually so hostile, in fact I usually really enjoy getting email from readers and I even send out replies… this one is an exception, what makes it even better is apparently they didn’t look to see if they were already mentioned here.)

Name Harrison Barnes

Email XXXX@bcgsearch.com

Subject Guest Columist Message

Hi-I love your site! Nice work! I would love to have you write for one of our properties (LawCrossing, JD Journal) if you are interested.       –Harrison


I can't tell you how many times BCG has told me to go fuck off. At least once, in as many words.

Please let me return the favor.

In the future you should consider that if you keep making enemies at the rate you seem to (based on innumerable conversations I've had with other attorneys at my career level) you shouldn't be surprised when your business disappears as we begin to move into more stable positions in companies and at firms.

Please find the advice you can take supra.

-- Azrael

I’m not dead yet…

So, I have a bunch of content waiting in the wings for the likely very few people who may read this blog. But I am waiting to post it… for reasons. And they are good reasons, but you’ll have to trust me on that. I am endeavoring to be able to post everything as soon as possible.

So many of us…

As an avid fan of Dan Savage, I happened to be listening to this and felt the need to repost it here, as it is … well… shit; It may as well be my story with a couple notable variances. It seems Law School destroying people’s lives is a common theme. Take a listen.

Excerpt from Savage Love Podcast; Episode 479; 12/29/2015 — http://www.savagelovecast.com/   (Dan Savage is a relatively raunchy ‘Dear Abby’ who is spot on a good 90% of the time… the other 10% I end up yelling at the radio in my car while listening; but 90% is still a damn good average)

Reminds me a lot of the “Humans of New York” attorney… (link 1 / link 2)

Networking of the Damned – 2015 Holiday Edition

I feel there has been a relative dearth of holiday parties this year. I’m usually more than happy to make a few treks out for the obligatory halfway-holiday themed networking events that spring up around Christmas. Either I am falling off the better mailing lists that send them out, or there are decidedly fewer happening. Disappointing either way.

Recently I ended up getting the invitation to the local Young Lawyers Association holiday party. Sadly this one required I pay out for the privilege of going, but it wasn’t a significant amount; so I committed the heresy of paying to go to the networking party. As I’ve mentioned before, it is against my religion to pay for CLEs and networking functions (and parking); but as the old maxim says, you have to spend money to make dubious networking contacts with others in similar dire straights which never pan out into any… wait, that might not be how the maxim goes. Regardless…

This party had the added bonus on the invitation saying it was “black tie optional”. Yes… because image is everything; and grabbing up a bunch of very new and relatively broke attorneys and stuffing them into tuxedos and gowns will completely fix the obvious problems of the legal industry. I actually considered wearing a tuxedo. I have one– for no discernible reason other than it was on sale and I like standing in front of my bathroom mirror acting like James Bond. But I just couldn’t bring myself to wear it to what promised to be an array of broke attorneys and law students. My caution was rewarded when I arrived and saw that all of maybe 5 out of a few hundred arrayed were wearing tuxedos, and they seemed to be ill at ease with their decision (and they may have been the hosts too, not sure).

The event was outside. In December. To be fair, I am in a latitude where it doesn’t snow, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get cold. I’m guessing they got a deal on the venue since no one really wants to hold events outside at this time of year, for good cause. It was cold and really windy, and to make matters more fun, there were several fountains in the general vicinity so the wind constantly sprayed a goodly number of people with a fine cold mist. They had several of the outdoor propane heaters, but the afore mentioned wind kept blowing them out every few minutes. It didn’t really matter as you never really felt the heat due to the wind anyway even when they were lit. There were open bars (I mean come on… its a legal function; do you really expect lawyers not to drink?) Various foodstuffs were in the standard silver serving dishes; nothing was labeled and although I could figure out what most of the food dishes were, even after eating some of the remaining mystery food, I was still unable to decide what it was other then ‘squishy’. To complete the picture there was a big ice sculpture (because… why not?) and a rock band playing, and in the standard poorly considered execution of so many of these events, the band was located right in the middle of everyone so you had to yell at the person right next to you at the networking event to be heard. Great idea.

I showed up and grabbed some food quickly to beat any lines and also so I could actually network with people without trying to eat while doing so. Very shortly into the event I ended up talking with what turned out to be the only decent networking contact I found the whole night, and they weren’t even a lawyer; they worked in one of the ancillary valuation type of fields. They offered to pass along my resume with a good word to several of the firms their company worked with as well as fielding the possibility of collaborating with me on something; it’s unlikely to go anywhere but it at least made me feel like my money wasn’t completely wasted. I ended up talking with them for quite awhile and eventually more people from the firm drifted over and everyone was laughing and swapping stories about hilarious times they were drunk driving (I wish I was making that up), but seemingly fitting for a legal event as we stood no more than 10 feet away from one of the 4 fully stocked and completely open bars.

Eventually we both felt we should work the room a bit so we parted and drifted to other tables. I met up with one of the few lawyers I knew at the party and as with all networking events, if you hold down a table, others will drift in to talk and drink.

One attorney joined us, who introduced himself and handed out a business card and then proceeded to stand silently at table for the next 45 minutes without joining the conversation or talking to anyone. Just hovering slightly creepily and listening in on the rest of the table talk. I’m not that great at networking, but I mean… damn. I’m not that bad. Just to complete the mental image before you assume we were at a large table where you might be able to disappear into the background… we weren’t. It was a standing table that was probably 2 feet diameter, just large enough for four or five people to stand at and put your drink down. And Mr. Awkward was standing right at the table staring silently, pretty much until the party ended.

(A short addendum relating to silent weird guy: We also all handed him our cards, because… networking. Everyone included their email obviously so we can be contacted on the off chance someone wanted to buy us  offer a job. Instead, I now get the rantings of an insane person in my inbox (in various colors no less; professional!) about how the courts did this or that to him or his clients, and how they were completely wrong and illegal to do so, and how judge X is an insane asshole… usually spanning multiple pages. Google started flagging it as spam without me telling it to do so. The schizophrenic rantings are called his law firm’s newsletter, so says the title. It was amusing, but also scary that he went through law school, sailed through character and fitness, and passed the bar, yet no one noticed he was nuts.)

Another relatively new attorney with a surprisingly similar story to my own wandered over, and they seemed far too excited at the prospect of being a broke solo. I talked quite a bit with them and even setup lunch for a later point. I’m unsure whether we were commiserating about being in a crappy situation or swapping tips on how to survive in said crappy situation. Either way, nice guy.

A newly minted family law attorney joined us who was basically working as the assistant to a seasoned family law solo. They claimed they / their firm specialized in ‘high net worth divorces’. Yeah… right. A tiny solo catches ‘high net worth’ anything? I’m guessing the firm actually specializes in ‘wishful thinking’. It’s one thing to bend the truth to clients… its a whole different matter to try to pass off a lie like that to other attorneys. Better to be honest and say you ‘aspire to X… but deal with a lot of this in the meantime’. And on a completely professional note and without going into detail, when I brought up something which is a very well known standard in the industry (at least among better family law attorneys) they disagreed with the concept emphatically. Which absolutely killed any respect I may have had towards them. I have worked in family law, and as disagreeable as the divorce axiom I brought up, no divorce attorney worth their salt would have taken an opposing position.

The evening wore on. The flyer advertised the party as ending at 10 PM. And oh my, did it end EXACTLY at 10 PM.  The bars stopped serving 15 minutes before and started to clean up, which at these types of functions usually make most lawyers leave (no more booze? I’m [going to drive] outta here!) and the party wind down naturally. But instead, at the exact stroke of 10, they shut off the lights (no shit). And someone walked over and told everyone “you have to leave… now”. I guess they rented the venue literally only until 10 and to say we were ushered out is putting far too pleasant a point on it.

I’m unsure what my final impression is of the event. I suppose as with most, it was a slightly surreal experience of a bunch of mostly broke people dressing up and pretending otherwise.

Maybe that’s not so surreal now that I think about it.

Interview #34 – Magnum PI

When I started law school, I swore I would never work in Personal Injury. When I graduated law school, I planned on working in Intellectual Property litigation and patent work and never even considered the possibility that I would work in Personal Injury. As the years have worn on, I broadened my scope and began applying to everything and anything  in various sub-specialties in an attempt to become gainfully employed, but still I completely avoided Personal Injury like the plague– it was the one field I never sent an application in for. As you may guess, my most recent interview was for a very large personal injury firm.

My chronic addiction to food has worn down my extreme distaste for PI work, and as it seems to be one of the few legal fields which is actually consistently hiring in this economy I swallowed my pride and my morals and applied to a Plaintiff side PI firm. Not just any PI… no, I sent off to one of the big ones. No late night infomercials advertising the ‘hammer of justice’ who will ‘fight for you’. I suppose a high mark in their favor is that they are a particular, somewhat higher quality PI firm who doesn’t resort to such tactics.

I got a phone interview very quickly from my application and I talked with the recruiter for about an hour. The most interesting tidbit dropped by the recruiter was that if I move up the ranks in the firm I would ‘probably not have to worry about money’ and then gave me some very interesting potential dollar figures. They rather quickly setup an in person interview at the main office. I trekked down to the physical office which was not horribly local to me for a face to face to see what it was that I had been avoiding for the last couple years.

My first thought on arriving at the office was “I thought it would look nicer.” My impression from researching them was the firm makes …. a lot… of money. But the physical office space was, to be nice, cheap. Small waiting room, cheap flooring, chipped paint, sparse / non-existent furnishings… it just didn’t exude money the same way as other offices I have had the opportunity to pass through.

After a few minutes in a tiny waiting room with all of 3 chairs in it, a paralegal comes by and says she’s taking me back to a conference room. We head back and bypass several decent sized conference rooms, with the standard large table and 10+ chairs around them, and instead I’m led to what may well have originally been a large closet. But the closet has a table and 5 chairs around it, so I guess technically it is a conference room for itty-bitty conferences. It was so small that if someone were sitting in one of the afore mentioned 5 chairs, you could not technically walk behind them unless they got up out of the chair, pushed the chair in, and allowed you to pass. What was it with this firm and tiny rooms? It merely lent to the idea of ‘cheap’ even though I still had the impression (hope?) the firm was doing very well for itself.

So after a few minutes, what turns out to be a junior partner, walks in and starts the interview. It was intended to be a sequential interview of increasingly more senior attorneys. The concept of speed dating comes to mind. After a few minutes, one was supposed to bow out, and another come in. The junior partner and I got along famously. The only glaring warning bell that went off was when they asked ‘why I was applying there considering I was very overqualified for the position’, while they sort of waved my resume at me like an accusing paper flag. It’s hard to know whether it was an honest question, but I think it probably was; where the firm is located likely made my credentials stand out glaringly against others from the same locale. Other than that, it was a very friendly interview bordering on just being a fun conversation. They seemed quite happy with me and ducked out to tag in the next attorney.

The second attorney comes in, and starts asking more difficult questions. Quite a few of which I’d heard before… ‘what were you doing between college and law school.’  ‘What is with this or that specialty and why do you have it.’ ‘Tell me about your research / litigation experience with X or Y’,  Etc. etc… Had I not heard most of these questions before, I might have been more ill at ease answering them, but since I have had a great deal of time to consider answers to them in light of the post-mortem provided at least in part on this blog… well, I had some pretty good answers.

About 5 minutes in however, another attorney wanders in and sits down and says something along the lines of ‘oh you started without me’. So apparently it wasn’t quite like speed dating because you usually don’t try to flirt with several people at the same time, at the same table; Unless of course you are on some horrible FOX reality TV show. The problem was, they both continued as if they were alone conducting separate interviews. They each had divergent lines of questioning, and they stuck to their own scripts. So one would ask a question, I would start answering and within a few moments the other would break in to try to get you to answer their (generally) unrelated question. The main problem was, the new attorney was asking decidedly negatively themed questions.

This went unabated for about 10 minutes when the door opened again. This time an interesting change in tenor happened. The only way I can describe it is when Norm from Cheers walks into the bar, as the other two shout out his name and start joking around. And the image wasn’t far off… rather than wearing a suit this partner was in jeans and a Bermuda shirt. They wander in and setup at the head of the tiny table. (which of course involved everyone standing up and shuffling a bit so they could actually get to the head of the tiny table). I immediately assume ‘rainmaker’ as everyone was a bit deferential and one of the attorneys actually fistbumped him over a dumb joke he made. It turned out, this guy wasn’t even on the roster of attorneys I was supposed to be interviewing. They were passing by and just decided to pop in for amusement value I guess.

This became an exercise in a bit of the ridiculous as the previous two part unrelated questioning became a 3 part rapid fire non-sequitur. The only difference now was that the rainmaker was also throwing in some off color / bawdy jokes instead of questions or referencing owning high end luxury cars. So I had one attorney who was joking around and asking nothing of import, one who was asking substantive questions, and one who was asking probing and relatively hostile questions. None of which were arranged in any sort of order, so I would finish answering one and the other attorney would start up “getting back to my question…” (which I think we had left 5 minutes previously and I now had little recollection of what you asked after the unrelated conversation inserted between…) Maybe this was some sort of deposition tactic to throw you off guard; maybe it was just several large egos jostling in the same room. Either was legitimately possible. It felt like a ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine with an added ‘Frat-boy cop’ thrown in.

The most irritating concept reared its horrible head from the hostile attorney. They pointed out that I had mentioned in a previous answer that I had interviewed for a job in a different legal sub-specialty… not PI, and followed this up pointing to my diverse array of specialties. And he said that it seemed I was just interviewing everywhere to get a job. There was a beat of silence in the room before I said, yes that’s right. And I explained it was less about the specific specialty and more about the rigor of the work and novelty of cases. I gave a good accounting of this reasoning, and as you might expect, the other two liked my answer and Mr. Negative really did not. His opinion seemed to be that he didn’t want to hire me if I needed a job; he only wanted to hire me if I already had a job and didn’t need a different one. This type of backwards thinking permeates the legal field and it is infuriating.

‘We only want you if you don’t need us.’

Shortly after battling off the hostile attorney the rainmaker decides it’s time to make an exit and takes the hostile attorney with him as he leaves claiming he needed them for something. So I finish out with the original attorney, and they then say there is one final attorney to speak with. He leaves to find this last attorney and disappears for a good 10 minutes before reappearing and telling me the last attorney couldn’t be found and apparently went home for the day so I won’t be talking with them.

I am walked out of the firm and the implication was I would be contacted very soon. I guess I have to decide pretty quickly if I actually want to work in PI. The salary range they gave was pretty damn attractive, especially when compared to other places I’ve interviewed and knowing the salaries of friends who got into firms… I guess the money is spent on the attorneys and not the office. Not a bad system I guess. We’ll see how it pans out.

I never wanted to do this, but at this point, I will.



Interview #33 – Nap Time

So I scored an interview at a government agency. The downside was that it was about 3 hours away from where I am now…  Hey I’m happy to relocate if they want me.

I got a phone call setting up the interview and as the secretary was trying to get off the phone I reminded her she didn’t tell me where the interview was… as in the address or office… or anything. So she seemed bemused at forgetting and relays the address to me and says ‘head up to the 3rd floor once you are there and they will direct you where you need to go.”

Seemed simple enough. Well, first off, I show up and it turns out the secretary actually gave me the wrong address… but it wasn’t a big issue because there were enough signs along the road to direct me to the right place, not the best first impression though. I wander in and am confronted by the security desk who wants to know who I am meeting. I say I wasn’t given a specific name.. merely an interview with the legal department on the 3rd floor. This doesn’t seem to go over well but after a minute he begrudgingly hands me a visitors badge and lets me pass muttering that I really should know who I am supposed to see (well thanks for the helpful info!). I head up to the 3rd floor and the elevator opens into.. well basically a maze of cubicles. I look around and wander over to what I assume is a secretary since their cubicle is more open than others and ask who I am supposed to see for the interview. They give me a name X and send me to another secretary on the opposite side.

I talk to the second secretary and tell her “I am here to see X for the job interview.” The secretary turns to look at me, and quite literally looks me up and down, and says ‘I don’t think so… what are you supposed to be here to interview for?’ I respond the attorney position…

Ah, she says. ‘X is interviewing for legal secretaries, and you,’ (with a wave of her hand) ‘don’t look like a secretary.’ I suppose that’s a point in my favor.. I guess. So I finally get routed to the correct people and I am ushered into a conference room with 2 other attorneys in it.

One attorney introduced himself and told me the other one was there to basically transcribe my answers. The second attorney introduced himself and thereafter never spoke a word during the interview. The first attorney started off by asking a few quick standard questions before asking more pointed and specific ones. This is where it got fun… the attorney asking the questions… I guess was tired (or something) so he would ask a question, wait a beat or two for me to start talking, and then he’d just close his eyes and seemingly doze off.

I’d continue talking to the half asleep attorney and directing the answer moreso at the silent one writing everything down, and once I’d reached an end point and silence would fall on the room, the first one would re-animate and ask the next question, only to once again start to doze once he was done.

I really don’t know what the point of the interview was considering the complete lack of interaction and impersonality of it. I could have just written answers to the questions and emailed them considering the level of conversation that went on. (later, a friend of mine helpfully suggested maybe the interviewer was mentally imagining my answers… about litigation.)

At the end, the interviewer woke up enough to walk me back to the elevator and confirm my fear that I would be working in one of the cubicles if I were hired. (shit). Then as it happened, they knew the city from where I had driven up from and mentioned he hoped I had a good drive back. So, maybe bonus points for driving a really long time to have a shitty interview? Dunno.

Got back into my car and drove the 3 hours back annoyed at how unprofessional the interview had been conducted. Par for the course I suppose. There are so few normal, decent people in this profession it is astounding.

Interview #32 – Name Game

I had a few interviews recently, and most of them are going to be posted. I’ve just been banking them up, all the while hoping one would come through.

So one of the more recent ones… I got a call for an interview for an insurance defense position. The phone connection was a bit broken while I was talking to them (not sure if it was my cell, or their slightly odd phone system) but the end result was I ended up missing a few words here and there. Most of the conversation was fine, but I didn’t want to keep saying “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” too much so at a certain point I just decided I would figure out some of the details after the phone call. So I was able to get the address of the interview and who I would be talking with. I mostly got the name of the company but the phone kept cutting out, but I was 99% sure I had it. Let’s call them Insurance Company X, or InsCoX for short.

So the phone call ended and I decided to look up the pertinent info for the interview at InsCoX while it was still fresh in my mind. Here’s where it got a bit odd though. The address I was given was not for the insurance company’s offices. It was instead for a small law firm called “the law offices of Name1 and Name2”. But, the principals for the firm both had listed under their credentials that they were Staff Counsel for InsCoX.

As I had previously interviewed at several insurance defense firms, this seemed somewhat normal. From the scant information I had, it sounded like InsCoX subcontracted out their regional litigation work to this firm; but there was veritably no information online about the firm (also not too strange… for example try looking up information about consumer collections firms, you won’t find hardly any info… something about having angry defendants show up and send stuff to their offices I imagine).

So armed with very little info about ‘the law offices of N1 and N2’ I head over to the interview. The office was in a seemingly half vacant office building which had seen better days. I arrive at the door which has a modest black and gold plaque outside saying ‘the law office of Name1 and Name2’. I enter the office and the inside of it is just as dull and a bit on the side of run down as the outside parts. I head into the interview and meet with a single older gentleman. The interview starts and he asks me what I know about them.

I answer honestly and say not much as there wasn’t much available online. He looks surprised and says, there wasn’t much info on InsCoX? I say no… there was almost nothing online about your law firm. Now he looks confused, and says ‘what law firm?’ uh oh. Something is wrong. I respond – The law firm of N1 and N2. He says .. Oh yeah, that.

Apparently ‘that’ was a smokescreen. InsCoX puts out a fake law firm name as the place of business and stick up a plaque at all of their litigation offices so angry people don’t show up complaining. Good to know, probably better to know before the interview but how was I supposed to get that information.

Anyways, the interview continues on. He asks questions, I answer. There were a few I legitimately didn’t know and I quickly admitted I didn’t. Most of those, when explained to me, I quickly turned around and ended up saying ‘oh, that is identical to what we do in this other legal specialty and this is how we do it…” So ideally I was at least showing I was competent even if I wasn’t familiar with their specific code sections. Conversely, the interviewer seemed to sincerely dislike admitting they didn’t know something and there were several times during these discussions when I would mention some point of legal specialty he didn’t know and he would claim he did… and then it would become really obvious he was completely clueless when I continued on the topic.

The interview wound down and I wandered back out of the dingy offices. I feel like the confusion as to who they really were may have reflected badly on me, but how could I have known.

Scummy Job Ads

You wonder why people think lawyers are slimy?

I ran across an ad for an immigration attorney… It purported to be a position for a charity. General concept was to work pro-bono for illegal immigrants to help get them out of detention. Seems like a noble enough endeavor for a charity. As with all jobs, I poked around to see what this charity was about.

They had a facebook page with photos of people they had supposedly helped. All the employees of the charity had huge smiles plastered on their faces in the photos which had captions like ‘Bob is so happy to be reunited with his family’. The weird thing was, not a single one of the ‘clients’ were smiling. In point of fact, they all looked really miserable.

That’s when stuff got even weirder. Backtracking to see how the charity was organized, you find pretty quickly that it was run as a small side venture of what almost amounts to a bail bond company. I couldn’t figure out what the deal was… it didn’t add up. Then I started checking out the parent company. Turns out they are one of the largest manufacturers and servicers for GPS ankle monitors.

Ahhh… Now it makes sense. The ‘charity’ worked like this: hire down on their luck attorneys to represent detainees but have the condition of release be that they be fitted with an ankle monitor. The Fed. govt. pays for the company to monitor the GPS trackers. The company makes money off every single ‘pro-bono’ case it takes on by being the servicer. And of course they aren’t going to fight to allow the detainees to go free with no GPS bracelet, I would be willing to bet that is a condition of representation in point of fact.

The whole thing is so slimy. Ugh. I am quite sure there are several ethical violations just bobbing around on the surface of this scum filled pool. But hey, go see for yourself on Nexus Services webpage, look for Nexus Caridades. I feel bad for the people who they are ‘helping’.

Interview #31 – Clueless at the Top

Much like the interview, this post will be short.

I applied to a BigLaw opening and somewhat surprisingly got a call back. The HR director gave me a quick run through the position and dangled a truly wonderful salary in front of me. It was supposedly for a real attorney position and in my specific field too. So I was excited at the prospect of working somewhere substantively in exactly what I want to do.

They got my availability and said they would double check with the partner to see when they were available for a phone interview. A week went by, long enough that I tried calling back but got no answer or return call. Finally HR called back and setup the phone interview for a week later. An odd sidenote, but rather than have them call me for the phone interview, I was directed to call them; a little weird.

Doing the usual pre-interview research I decided that if this man asked me to murder someone for the job I would. The job was almost literally everything I could want. At the appointed time, I called in and started talking to the guy. The job was even better than I could have hoped. They actually said they had a hard time keeping attorneys in the position because the corporate clients kept hiring them into higher paid in-house positions. It sounded amazing.

First the job suddenly was downgraded to a staff attorney position; still possible although I am sure the salary was also downgraded. It is possible he was not using the right terms, because he did say something about required billables which usually staff attorneys don’t have, so I’m not sure. Then the real stupid started. You see, it turned out the partner didn’t know the difference between a “Contract Attorney” and an “Attorney-who-does-contracts” (i.e. transactional work). Now, I know how to draft and edit contracts, but apparently they looked at my resume and thought “Wow, look at all the contract work this person has done. They sure do have a lot of experience with contracts!”

The next few minutes were horrible as I had to explain to a senior partner at a huge law firm exactly what a contract attorney actually is. Mind you, I know their firm has probably hundreds of contract attorneys working for them everyday. And this guy had zero clue about what they did or how they were hired (i.e. direct hire contracts versus 3rd party companies who provide contract labor etc.) He actually asked who is “Insert Giant Contract Attorney Provider Company Here”. The interview wound down pretty quickly thereafter. I don’t expect a call back.

I think I should have lied.

Interview #30 – Scraping the Bottom

I feel I should take myself out to dinner for hitting the big #30 without finding any real jobs! It was a close tie between this interview and another one which is slated to show up here in the next week or so, but the little law firm was nimbler and was able to setup the interview faster. So here goes…

I responded to an ad for an Associate. It was posted in a relatively legitimate place (i.e. not craigslist) from a small firm of about 5-6 attorneys; even during the interview the number of claimed attorneys at the firm seemed to fluctuate so I am not 100% sure of the actual size. I looked up information on the firm and it seemed to be a niche insurance defense firm, who like so many had one main client keeping it afloat and a handful of smaller cases going in an attempt to stay profitable.

My email was responded to within hours and after a few back and forth, an interview time was setup for the very next afternoon. Now, I would like to say that the emails were completely normal… (I would like to say that, but you know I can’t). Apparently something on my resume sparked a hidden passion within the interviewer, specifically one of the charities I work with is named ‘Saint Someone-or-other’ and the last email setting up the interview has a photo attached which says “I thought you’d appreciate this considering I noticed your work with St. Someone”. I opened the email and was greeted with a photo of what is known as an Incorruptible corpse wearing a mask (that the interviewer themselves was proud to have taken).

Fan-fucking-tastic. First impression is this person is either crazy religious or enjoys sending photos of corpses to people. Neither option bodes well for my upcoming interview. Morbid curiosity had me spend about 10 minutes researching the weird history behind the Saint before filing the whole thing away in the back of my brain with other things I really wish I had never stumbled across on the internet.

I arrive the next day at the office. Nice building, but their office is small and it turns out it is an officeshare situation (two tiny firms sharing a secretary and officespace). Warning flags are waving in my mind already but as I am already there I may as well continue, plus how could I pass up actually talking to the person who thinks it is a good idea to email photos of corpses to potential employees!

The office is sparse, but functional. It is also the first law office I have been in that had a fish tank (a minor plus in my book). It seems like every office in the 1980’s had a fishtank and now almost no one does. Anyway, I meet the person on the other end of the email and they are generally pleasant to speak with. I get the general lay of the firm. I’m told relatively circuitously there is zero upward mobility. There were 2 partners when the firm started many years ago, there are still only the same 2 partners now. I ask about the firm size and the partner leans back and starts counting. (uhm.. what? He doesn’t actually know who works for him?) I’m told the firm loses people on a regular basis; at that exact moment it seemed like they had 5 actual employees and maybe one contract attorney, although it may have been 4 employees and 2 contract…. the partner didn’t seem to know. At one point they had more than a dozen attorneys at the firm, but beyond the core 4 people, they were all contract workers brought on temporarily and were eventually fired when the business slowed again.

Here’s where it started going downhill. I will preface this by saying I found this job posting on a 4th tier Law School reciprocity site, and nowhere else (shades of the Gaming interview?). The interviewer started to nitpick over my resume. ‘Hmm, I see you did this…’, ‘Tell me did you pass the bar on the first try’ (which didn’t work out well for him when I laughed I explained the multitude of bars and certifications I hold) yada yada yada.. They kept poking until they found something they could hook onto. I wasn’t in the top 25%? Gasp! And the interview ended up staring at my resume with a sour look for a few seconds more. (mind you the credentials on my resume beat out the combined resumes of every one of the attorneys at his firm because they were nice enough to post the info on their website).

The interviewer then said, ‘weeellll, we’ve generally found that academics show how hard you are willing to work at this firm so I couldn’t offer you anything better than a contract position here.’ (this from the attorney sitting across from me who couldn’t get in anywhere above 4th tier… and his partner from the same school, and the other 2 permanent attorneys from the same crappy 4th tier law school.

They then go on to say that it would be straight hourly based on billable hours. (which for those who understand, means that it wasn’t a straight hourly job). It also meant if they didn’t assign me work, I made no money. From the trackrecord of the firm, it also meant they were going to hire me short term and fire me in the near future. Oh yeah, and they said they were expecting billable hours of 2400 hours / year. (Again, for those unfamiliar, BigLaw firms generally tack the high at 2100). Which means even if they had the work, they wanted to kill me with hours, then fire me when it started to slack based on the veritable inability to bill out 2400 hours. Nice.

Short version was, they wanted someone to kill themselves with very long hours for little money, no benefits, no job security, and no upward mobility.

I hate lawyers.

Law School – A very expensive mistake….