Digging back to an early interview, this one was probably the most puzzling. It was an interview for a DUI defense mill. I will pass along the only good advice I got from this interview though; if a law firm is looking to expand into another geographical area, you don’t do it all at once. You enter the region with one specialty and then begin adding more areas of practice. In this case, the firm did a significant amount of criminal defense and ‘general catch all law’. But if they were expanding into a new geographical region, they entered with DUI. They said it was the easiest demographic to target with a mix of TV, billboards, and heavy web advertizing (which they didn’t really handle very well.. no idea what was and was not on their websites and no clue as to most of the domains they owned).
Anyway, to give you the mind’s eye view, the interview was in a hotel conference room. And by conference room I mean big empty room with one small empty table and 3 chairs. And considering that the hotel seemed nice, I was surprised by how shitty the conference room was. (weird salmon color, very dirty, choking smell of mold). Anyway, I was talking with 2 partners about the position, mostly the conversation revolved around my internship experiences. But the whole while that they were talking to me, they both had the strangest smiles. It was like they had some inside joke going on and I had walked in on it. So for the whole interview I was trying to figure out what was so damned funny. The only thing I can think is that they found it hilarious that I actually showed up to interview with them.
I was pretty certain I didn’t have the job at the end of the interview. I still regret not asking one question of the interviewers. One of them had previously been a police officer; and was now a DUI defense attorney. Which means they were either doing it 110% for the money, or there was a much more interesting story about them leaving the force. Although prosecutors and defense attorneys usually play nice with each other, I didn’t know many police who would bother spitting on a criminal defense attorney if they were on fire.
The first interview for a real legal job I had was probably the the most depressing. Not for why you might think though… I went in for an interview for a corporate counsel position. The interview went great. I spoke to the head of HR, who absolutely loved me and we talked much longer than the interview was intended to go on all sorts of topics. They then took me over to the lead counsel to have an interview, and that one went great as well. I walked out of there thinking I had it.
I never heard a word back from them. Not a “thanks but no thanks”. Not ‘we picked someone else’. Nothing. I was told they were only interviewing 3 people… it really wouldn’t have taken longer than 2 minutes to call everyone who didn’t get the job. I looked them back up a year later and it seems like they never hired anyone… but recently they are looking for a paralegal for the same legal specialty as I applied, which doesn’t make much sense because I am willing to work pretty cheap if only they would have gotten back to me.
Since that interview I have become very accustomed to the void that follows applications, sent resumes, and interviews.
One of my more recent interviews was at a midsized firm that did toxic tort defense. The interview started out normally enough; I spoke with 2 partners, each one alternating asking a question or adding a minor bit of information. At some point, one partner asked about why I did not go directly from college to law school and what I did in the intervening time. Paraphrasing a bit, I told them why I didn’t go directly (originally looking at other grad programs) and that I worked crap jobs in the interim. The second partner asked something unrelated to that topic, the first partner decided this was some sort of sticking point. Where had I worked, in what city… his questions started doubling back as if he thought I would change my answers. It became strange how fixated he was on the couple trivial non-legal jobs nearly forever ago (and no.. wrong type of firm to have had any business with them at all). This went on for probably 10 minutes. The other partner shot me a strangely apologetic look at one point silently voicing that she too thought the other partner was being weird.
Walking out of that interview I had an overwhelming feeling that the partner had decided I had spent the time in question in prison and was trying to hide it by claiming to work in retail (which isn’t that far off from prison I suppose).
So I got a phone call requesting an in person interview. Woo! Anyway, since beginning my legal search I have been steadily increasing the geographical range in which I am willing to look for work. (At this point it is coast to coast and some overseas and I will acquire whatever bar you want me to acquire). This particular interview was 2 hours away from where I live, not a pleasant commute, but technically feasible and I could always move. Anyway, I drive two hours to the interview.
The first unfortunate surprise I get is that there are already 4 other attorneys sitting in the waiting room when I get there. We start chatting since it is obvious we are all there for the same thing. That’s when I learn from one of the others that this employer decided to call in about 50 people for interviews. There was a new attorney arriving every 15 minutes (and they were way behind schedule). The waiting room was filling with attorneys. We are all talking amongst ourselves and once the new guy who walked in every 15 min. figured out the odds, most everyone became more relaxed since the chances of getting this job were pretty damn slim. After I’m there about an hour, I strike up a conversation with an overly tanned, bleach blonde woman to my left who had recently entered the
party waiting room. I asked what law school she was from and lo and behold it was the same as mine, I asked when she graduated and she said my graduation year. At which point I sorta stopped and looked closer, and said.. “that’s weird… I don’t recognize you.” She got a bit nervous at that and suddenly tried to change the subject. Before I could go where this was obviously heading, my name was called for the interview. I smiled inwardly and sorta wondered how she’d explain that one down the line when someone figured it out. Regardless, not my problem.
I walk into the interview, and the first thing they say is “Well this isn’t really for a job”. Huh? I thought I had gotten a call for a job interview. That’s what I applied for, pretty sure I hadn’t applied for a non-job, boy those other 50 people are gonna be pissed. So I’m sorta frozen half sitting down in the chair and I ask “Well, what is it for?” It is then explained to me that although they advertized for the position, what they really wanted was a list of temps they could call if someone in that position left on maternity leave or was ill for an extended time. I asked, is someone at the job pregnant? “No… not right now.” I kid you not, the interviewer clicked their pen and then said “So, can we put your name down on the list?”
2 hours driving, 1 hour waiting, 2 hours driving home.
And that was my job interview for a job that didn’t exist.
I’ll be posting some of the sordid details of interviews I’ve had. As with everything, I won’t be naming names. And I can guess that even if someone associated with the firm / office I had been applying were to read this, they wouldn’t want to admit it was them considering why I am posting the stories.
I’m always excited to go to an interview. An interview means that you have made it to the next level.. that much closer to a real job. It means that out of the myriad applications and resumes they received, yours was picked out because something stood out about it.
I was headed out to an interview with a firm which specialized in Class Action and employment law. The firm had a few small regional offices, but a decent seeming cash flow considering several recent cases prominently on their website. Their main office was in a nice building downtown. I get to their office and a minor alarm bell goes off far in the recesses of my brain… it seems rather sparse. And there is no sign of support staff working there, which is weird because it is the middle of the week. But they do have other offices, and supposedly they usually work at one of them on this day. I did email back and forth with a secretary somewhere about the interview…
Anyway, I sit down with the two partners. The interview starts out rather normally, but about 5 min in, one of the partners apologizes and says he has to move his car so it won’t be ticketed. (He never returns.) The remaining partner starts talking to me about my past employment, specifically about the contract work I had done. He says he is unfamiliar with how it works (huh? they do class actions… they must use doc review… at least somewhat). I humor him and start explaining what I did for which employers. He starts getting more interested in certain aspects, and this part of the interview has been going on for probably 15+ minutes. He then asks how I was paid… for all of the contract employers, and about overtime, and about how many contract attorneys were working for the various firms.
He gets real excited when he learns that one firm didn’t give overtime to the contract attorneys. About the same time I figure it out, he offers to file an employment lawsuit on my behalf that could be a class action for everyone else who was working with me. 120 attorneys over 4 months. And then he just sits there waiting.
The rest of the interview was pretty fast. He gave me his card and said if I wanted to file or if I knew anyone else who did, to give him a call; and oh yeah, they’d get back to me about the ‘position’. As I was walking out, another young attorney was walking in to be ‘interviewed’. I wouldn’t even bother betting that he had a resume with contract work listed on it.
I went to an interview that was actually a ploy trawling for work.