Interview #15

Sometimes I think I have bad luck. Othertimes, I know it. The only other possibility is that I severely pissed off a very vengeful deity somewhere (always possible).

This one started out so well. I applied to a position with a medium sized firm that was split in to 2 or 3 practice groups who were relatively segregated from each other. From the description I got, it was as if this one firm was composed of a few smaller firms who really had very little idea as to what the others groups did. I was interviewing for what turned out to be an IP license / transactional associate. It seemed right up my alley.

I was located in another city from the firm, so the first interview I had was with a partner over Skype (maybe.. they self-identified as head of the practice group and led me to believe they were a partner, but maybe not). Anyway, the interview was a little stilted mainly because they started off as every other interview you’ve ever had asking the generic questions “Tell me about yourself” etc. But, fairly quickly they got bored with this and actually tossed the paper they were reading these questions from on their desk. Now it got a bit more interesting. They said they would rather know how I problem solved an actual case, so they picked up a file and told me they had just gotten this case this week and wanted to know where I would start researching and what my thoughts were, as they had not yet had the ability to start working on it yet. The main problem was, with A/C privilege the description of events was hovering right around the ridiculously generic, and each time I would start trying to form some sort of plan of attack, it would turn out the facts were not what I had thought because I wasn’t being told the whole story.

The interview ended and I sat sorta staring at my computer and turning over both the interview and the case. It hadn’t gone horribly well, but it hadn’t been really bad either. Just very stilted as I would propose one thing and they would say “weeellll… we can’t because of this (which I didn’t tell you).” The longer I stared at my computer the more dissatisfied I became with how I had answered the questions. After mulling it over for a half-hour, I realized exactly what the contours must be of the case they had been skirting around the whole interview. It had dealt with open source ‘viral’ licensing and integration into larger database software. But most of the IP was a red-herring, and the case was actually a contract issue. The whole thing crystallized in my mind and I started furiously writing out an email to the attorney. In a rather long email I explained what I thought their case was about and how it was actually a contract issue and not a copyright issue as they had framed it to me.

I heard nothing back for 3 days and I pretty much assumed I must have blown it, either with the not so great interview or maybe I had made some assumption of the case and ended up way off base. On the third day, I get back an email saying, “Based on this email, you’ve got yourself a second interview.”

The second interview was with 2 other members of the practice group. I found out that apparently I had hit a bullseye in my analysis of the case and I had made some friends by doing so. This interview was purely a social one. Almost no law was spoken about, and it was more to see how I interacted with the other people I might be working with. I was absolutely sure I had this job nailed down.

A month went by. I didn’t think too much of it. The holidays were in the middle, lots of stuff gets put on hold while people are on vacation. I get that. But still, just to follow up I sent an email to try to make sure I was kept in mind. The response was that I was still being considered, but basically this stuff moved slowly so be patient.

Another month goes by. Now I’ve sorta given up most hope of this turning into a position. But, since I haven’t heard anything definitively negative either, I drop another email. I get back a one line message from the partner. “Call me”. Intriguing.

So, the short version of the phone call goes like this. (I am paraphrasing and adding expletives where needed.):

“I quit the firm. Those fuckers were cheating me out of my money. But I took my secretary with me and I am opening my own damned firm. We wont have an office till next month-ish, and I’m sorta short on cash at the moment. We should talk about you working for me, but you have to know I’m operating on a shoestring so you’ll have to expect to be paid in accordance with working for a broke solo attorney. I’m sure business will pick up in no time, once we actually open. Oh yeah, and I can’t afford to ask you to work for me until you get this other certification, so let me know when you have that nailed down. I can use someone like you to back me up.”

It also came out that they weren’t a partner. I’m still not sure where in the PLLC they fell, but it was apparently much lower than I was led to believe. I’m also not sure if anyone else there has seen my resume. Just for fun I dropped the firm a note asking if they were still interested in hiring me considering… everything… Honestly, I did it just to see what their response will be.

Update: So the firm got back to me. They said that the member I had talked to “mislead” me and that their departure was unexpected but not unwelcome, and more things kept coming to light after they left. The real partners told me they weren’t looking to hire me but really wanted to talk to me in person. (I am still unsure why considering they specifically said they don’t want to hire me). It also seems odd that they feel I was misled considering I had talked to 3 attorneys there and there were several mentions of conversations relating to hiring with the partners, and oh yeah… the whole job posting. But I digress. Short version is, they weren’t looking anymore.

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