The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Law Firm Interviewing

I had my first "rotate me from office to office to discuss my resume" BigLaw firm interview today. I must prelude here by letting you know I think I nailed it. On the other hand, I thought I nailed the past two interviews I had, and well, I am still searching for a job. Everyone has a strength (and weakness or two) and mine is interviewing. The problem with being a 1L attempting to land a summer job with a firm is that the minute you put 1L in your cover letter, it's off to the shredder for your resume. I finally got my foot in the door somewhere and was not going to let this one slip, so I spent all night preparing for this interview.

Findlaw has a great synopsis on law firm interviewing tips. They also have a great batch of questions for you to arm yourself with. (Keep in mind, as with any type of interview, it is more important to research the firm you are interviewing with and have questions specific to them on that list as well.) That being said, I formulated a pretty good list of questions. Some questions were to actually get to know details about the firm, some were to impress them by showing them I had done my homework, and of course some questions were mere filler questions in case I got stuck. Questions aside, I also did a bit of research on the four folks I would be interviewing with. Luckily, my interviewers each had a bio on the company's website. (I also looked them up on Martindale in case the website missed something.)

In reviewing the Findlaw guide, a lot of it was common sense (how to dress, don't be late, sell yourself, etc.) There was also some interesting information about how Law Firms conduct interviews. For instance, most firms do the rotation interview so you are exposed to more people and so that when you leave and they "grade" you, it's an average and not just one person's opinion. Furthermore, most firms will put at least one younger Associate in the rotation. Supposedly, this is where they "get down and dirty" and this is where most often, interviewees let their guard down. I was determined not to fall into that trap. I even went as far as to formulate specific questions to keep my younger Associate on track and so she couldn't trip me up.

The first guy I met with was really personable and things flowed smoothly. We stayed pretty much right on schedule and at one point, he even said he was enjoying speaking with me. My second guy was a little less easy. He was very nice, but had a dry sense of humor that threw me a bit. Furthermore, he had a thick foreign accent and I was having trouble hearing him. I asked him to repeat himself twice and after that, just began nodding. Who knows what I just agreed to. Third up was my young Associate.

I had seen from her photo that she was gorgeous. People that strikingly beautiful always make me nervous that what they got in looks will be lacking in personality. My fear subsided quickly. She was the most pleasant easy to talk to glowing pregnant lady I had ever met. We got off to a great start and she was extremely down to earth. She spoke with me much more candidly and threw out a few cuss words here and there. She even did a "just between you and me" comment or two. We had covered most of the basics and she innocently glanced down to say surprisingly "oh, I just noticed your address and I think we are neighbors." By this, I assume she means neighborhood. She tells me her address and it's only one number off from mine. (My initial thought process: wait, we know all of our neighbors. In fact, we babysit for one, our housework is done by another, and ...the only neighbors we don't know are the jerks across the street. OH CRAP! She is one of "those people" across the street. Those people we seem to be in a parking war with. Those people who told another neighbor they were going to call the police for our daytime July 4th BBQ. Those people who, at one time, hit my roommates car and then left.) What actually comes out of my mouth: "Hmmm, I'm not sure which house you are in." So, she describes the house and I attempt to cover with "oh, you must be across the street where my roommate accidentally parks sometimes when she gets home really tired and late. Yeah, I've talked to her about that before and I can apologize on her behalf." She brushed it off as no big deal (which both of us knew to be bull) and we continued. It took me a minute to bounce back, but I think it ended okay. She took me over to my last rotation, Partner lady who heads up the summer program. In saying our goodbye, I turn to Associate and say "thanks so much for your time, it was great to meet you and I shall make sure to speak with roomie for you." At this point, Partner looks at her saying "Associate, I told you not to bring that up!" Associate busts out laughing with "I swear, she brought it up, I didn't" and we all got a good laugh out of it.

I am sure she and her hubby are going to have a great dinner this evening discussing how she made me squirm. I guess that was one that no amount of research could prepare you for! So, if I don't get this job, I know who to blame and I know where she lives:-)

CLARIFICATION: The above post reflects the drama queen in me. The "you are the mean chick from across the street" portion of the interview was minimal. Overall, it was a really great interview and I walked out on a positive note (at least I think I did).

UPDATE: I got a phone call today (Friday, March 25th) from the partner at above mentioned firm offering me a summer job!!!