Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Friday, October 31, 2003

The A-to-Z Guide to Callback Interviews. (Is this a long enough post for ya?)

A is for ANSWERS -- After all of the on-campus interviews, it's easy to have a good sense of the kinds of questions that you're going to need to have answers to. I found that the callbacks were generally pretty similar in that way to the on-campus stuff -- the questions I was asked were pretty much the same as they'd been, and I found myself going back to a lot of the themes and responses that I had given on campus. Of course, there were questions I had better and worse answers for on-campus -- not "trick" questions, just stuff on my resume I liked talking about (writing stuff, for example), and stuff I didn't, and didn't really have an articulate, good answer for ("what's the journal article you're working on about?") -- and it was pretty much inexcusable that I hadn't gone back in between the on-campus stuff and the callbacks and come up with some solid sound bites. Given that people had asked certain questions, I should have figured they'd come up again in the callbacks, and solidified my responses so I didn't sound like a moron. I didn't really do that in a couple of cases ("sorry, what's that journal article about again?"), and ended up feeling a little silly.

B is for BIG -- Some of these firms are huge. Like "7 people named Goldberg" huge. I was surprised (though perhaps I shouldn't have been) that a lot of the times, when one interviewer was taking me to my next one, they didn't know each other, and in fact had never met. Or the lawyer had trouble navigating the hallways and finding a certain room number. Or didn't seem to know anyone we passed along the way. Obviously you can't know everyone in a 500-person law firm. But if nobody seems to know anybody, it makes me wonder how friendly the firm is, just a little bit. Is it a place filled with strangers, or a comfortable, collegial environment? ALTERNATE CHOICE: B was going to stand for bathrooms, since given the hours lawyers work, it's inevitable you'll be using them, probably for at least two different kinds of things (although there may be more...). It would be nice if they were clean.

C is for CAFETERIA -- Like the bathrooms, this is important stuff -- and in fact, there may be an inverse relationship at work. The better the cafeteria, the less time you'll spend in the bathroom. I asked about the cafeteria a couple of times -- usually in the elevators, if I saw someone bringing up a box of particularly grotesque-looking cafeteria food (can we outlaw the sale of lima beans, please?), I'd ask the lawyer who was taking me to the next interview how the food generally was, and if people ate in the cafeteria. Mostly got pretty negative answers. Even from the firm that bragged about it in their brochure. Hint: if you brag about the food in your recruiting brochure, at least tell the associates to lie when people ask about it. Actions in one case spoke louder than words: cafeteria in the building; fast food wrappers on at least a bunch of desks I saw. Subway? Wendy's? Come on, you earn enough money for at least KFC....

D is for DESKS -- At first, I couldn't believe how much paper these people had on their desks. Piles and piles of paper. On the desk, under the desk, coming out from all sides of the desk. The myth of the paperless office. One guy who interviewed me had literally not a square inch of desk visible, and not only were papers pouring out from underneath his desk, but I saw a box of tissues, some paper plates covered with half-eaten food, and a family of small rodents (I'll skip the lawyers as rodents joke analogy here...). Some people's desks were clean and their offices lovely. It's not that hard. And it's awfully intimidating to have to talk to someone over stacks and stacks of paper. "This is your life," the piles seemed to be screaming. "Run. While you still can."

E is for ELEVATORS -- One of my classmates, as we both waited in a firm's lobby for our interviewers, mentioned that he'd been making it a habit to ask, "What's the worst thing about working here?" I thought it was a great question, and stole it from him for the rest of the process. Although I only used it when it felt right, or I was out of other stuff to say -- it was my "please don't ask me any more questions" question. Some of the answers I got were predictable -- "the hours," "the long hours," "the lack of free time," "the long hours and the lack of free time," and "the long hours, lack of free time, and overall miserableness" (really) -- but three times (not just once, I tell ya -- three times!), the answer I got was "the elevators." Either they're slow, or they're crowded, or you have to go all the way down to the lobby and switch... it was a great answer, actually -- because if the elevators *really* are the worst part of the job, it must be a great job. But let's get real -- the elevators cannot, absolutely cannot possibly, be the worst part of any job except for elevator operator. And even then, it's probably the people more than the elevators.

F is for FACE TIME -- Apparently, face time refers to the need to stay in the office even when you have no work to do, just because you feel like you're expected to be there. The "right" answer, I suppose, is "there's no face time -- if you have nothing to do, no one expects you to be here." This answer's loveliness is dulled when any of the following caveats are added: "...although if it's early, like 7 or 8, people usually stick around because it looks bad;" "...but usually I'll come in on the weekend, just so people see that I'm here;" "...but it's not like any associates leave before all of the partners have;" " as long as you explain why you left early the next day when a partner calls you into the office to question you, you'll usually be okay."

G is for GRADES -- I got asked about one grade, once. I have one grade on my transcript that doesn't quite fit, so it made sense for someone to ask me about it, I guess. I gave an honest answer, which was that honestly I don't know exactly what happened, other than I just didn't give very good answers to the questions on the test, and must not have had a great grasp of the subject, but oh well. I have no idea if there are better answers out there, but I kinda liked it. I expected more people would have something -- anything -- to say about grades, but I guess they all pretty much speak for themselves on paper, and everyone's look kinda the same anyway. ALTERNATE CHOICE: G is for GOOGLE. As far as I can tell, no one Googled me. In a moment of food-induced guard-down edge-teetering, at one lunch Google somehow came up, and I found myself saying, "I don't think anyone's googled me throughout this whole process." Of course, the reply was, "oh -- maybe we should then." And maybe they did. Who knows. I'm cool with it either way, but just thought I'd report on the fact that I don't think anyone did, since no one mentioned finding this thing, and if I googled someone and found 200,000 words they'd written, I'd probably bring it up. ANOTHER ALTERNATE CHOICE: G is for GHASTLY THINGS THAT INTERVIEWERS TELL YOU WITHOUT REALIZING EXACTLY WHAT THEY'RE SAYING. "On the day of the blackout, I had a big project, so I carried my laptop with me down the 45 flights of stairs, and then got a ride into Jersey with some co-workers, just so I could plug in and get my work done." That wins the bronze medal. With the silver: "What's the best thing about working here? Well, the hours suck, the work's pretty boring, and I have no time to spend with friends and family. But what makes it all worthwhile is that when someone asks me what I do for a living, I can tell them that I work for one of the top law firms in the world. And that makes up for all the rest." And the gold medal goes to: "I don't think anyone here, if they could have looked ten years into the future, would have chosen to come here. I don't think they would have chosen this lifestyle. And if they say anything different, I think they're lying."

H is for HOURS -- Apparently they're long. Apparently the code word for long hours is, "we are not a lifestyle firm." Everyone said that. Better yet, "this is not a lifestyle career." Better yet, from one hiring partner: "This is not a friendly place. We work hard. I used to have friends. I haven't seen a friend since I started working here. I don't see my family. I don't spend time with my kids. I cancel vacations, I work weekends, I'm here well into the night. When you work for a firm like this, you make sacrifices. You're at the mercy of the clients. If they need you, you're here. If something gets in the way -- friends, family, outside interests -- well then that's tough... but the work comes first."

I is for IGNORANCE -- Read the websites. The answer to "what do you know about us?" is not "not that much," or so I've been told. I found myself relatively uncomfortable when I found myself unsure how many lawyers the particular firm had and was asked "What size firm are you looking for? Really big, or not that big?" Or if I was asked whether I knew how their summer program worked and couldn't remember if it was this firm's website that talked about the rotation and the other firm was free-for-all, or the other way around. Ignorance looks bad, and feels bad. Take the time to read the websites, do some Lexis searching... I found all of the time I did spend doing that stuff definitely paid off, even if just in comfort level.

J is for JOKES -- One of the less charismatic interviewers I had said, "I like to joke around at work. I'm probably one of the more relaxed, fun-loving people here." This guy seemed about as fun-loving as Roger Clemens with a broken bat in his hands (aside: if I had dressed up for Halloween three years ago, that would have been my costume. This year? It would have been dressing up as Don Zimmer and periodically rolling around on the ground. Fun stuff.). I had a few interviewers say things that made me laugh. Some inappropriately (see second alternate G entry above), but some genuinely and legitimately. I liked that. Funny people are nice to work with. On the flip side: I had a few standard lines and stories that I used that theoretically I thought could elicit a chuckle. Some did, some didn't. Maybe it was me.

K is for KEEPING THE WEIRD ONES LOCKED UP -- At every firm, at least one interviewer admitted that there were some "weird ones" that they don't let interview people, and they keep locked in their offices during recruiting season. I found the consistency of this revelation to be interesting. Each firm would follow it up with something like, "...but I think we have fewer of those than a lot of the other firms," but it always kind of took me by surprise. I want to meet some of these people who have been deemed to be weirder than the ones actually interviewing. These people that have been deemed so awful that they can't be let out. What are their problems exactly? "Well," says the imaginary partner in my mind, "there's the horrifically ugly man-child, the hunchback, the spit-talker, the screamer, and the lice-infested beard guy, just for starters...."

L is for LUNCHES -- Don't let them schedule a lunch if you're (a) in a hurry, or (b) you've eaten already that week. I'm generally relatively frugal (read: cheap), and don't eat in places where lunch entrees cost $25 anyway... but if I did, I wouldn't be ordering $12 appetizers and $10 desserts too. But I'm not a lawyer yet. The appetizers seemed to be standard (I never ordered first -- I wanted to see what the lawyer people would order and copy them, basically), dessert was standard... these were big meals. They were good, but they were big. It was weird to go to lunch with two associates who didn't know each other. Because then conversation seemed kind of strained at times. Or with quiet people. "How do you like working at the firm?" "I like it." But sometimes it worked and it was nice, and pleasant, and useful. But long! (P.S. Order the fish -- no knives needed to cut fish. Bad things to order, while wearing a suit and on an interview: Ribs, anything crunchy, things with bones or eyes)

M is for MISTAKES -- During the callbacks, there are three things I said that I would call mistakes, either for inappropriateness or just out of generic stupidity. The bronze medal: " we'd have task forces, small seminar classes about a certain topic. Like one I had on children's privacy on the Internet. We talked about stuff like how certain websites would collect information -- one website for teenage girls, for example, was asking them when they first started menstruating, things like that." (What in the world possessed me to use the word 'menstruating' in an interview???) The silver: "Any more questions? Uh... hmmm... uh... is your training all in one clump at the beginning, or is it spread out over a long time? Uh, actually that's a pretty stupid question, uh, let me think of another one." (Smoooooth...) And the gold goes to: "Yeah, I worked for Senator Schumer for a summer. What was he like? Well, he seems pretty small on TV, but he's actually really fat. He's got a small upper body, but quite a big gut. He's a big guy, it's surprising. Oh -- you meant what was *it* like -- the job -- not what was *he* like -- oh, okay."

N is for NAKED -- Don't go to callback interviews naked. ALTERNATIVE CHOICE: N is for NICE. The views are nice, the furniture is nice, the lunches are nice, the glossy recruiting brochures are nice. Some of the lawyers are nice. It's nice to talk to nice people. It's less nice to talk to less nice people. I like it when the lawyers are nice. Friendly. Warm. Polite. Genuine. These are things that give good feelings and make me think it'd be okay to work there. Be nice. It's nicer that way.

O is for OFFER -- Self-explanatory. The first letter I filled in. Yet I don't have much to say about the offers. Either we get it or we don't. Some combination of the resume and transcript and these interviews I guess. I wonder how many offers these firms make to fill their ideal class size. With so many firms competing, I bet some of these places need to make quite a many offers to get the 50, 60, 70 people they're looking for in their summer classes. Would be interesting to see how that varies firm to firm and if the yield %s mirror the Vault rankings or there are differences.

P is for PART-TIME -- A couple of people who interviewed me told me they work part-time schedules. I asked one what that meant: "9-7 Monday through Thursday, occasionally a little bit on the weekend." Yeah, I guess that's part-time. Full-time would be all 168 hours of the week. I sleep part-time too.

Q is for QUESTIONS -- If I could give one piece of advice to someone, and only one (then this post wouldn't be nearly this long), I'd say that you should come up with tons and tons of questions to ask these people. General questions, specific questions, lots and lots of questions. More than in the on-campus interviews, a lot of the callbacks were just the person asking me if I had any questions. "I'm all questioned out" feels embarassing to say when you haven't asked a question. "What's the best thing about working here?" was a standard one I used to try and get them talking and hopefully leading to other questions I'd have or they'd have. But when the answer was "the work is challenging," or "I like the money" (heard both of those a bunch), I was often starting to run dry. "Worst thing about working here?" "Why did you choose this place?" "How's work assigned in the summer program?" "Cafeteria good?" "What do you think of the Yankees..." I sometimes found myself scraping the bottom of the barrel. Think of better ones. In advance. It's hard on the spot.

R is for REJECTION -- I've seen some weblog posts about rejection quickly vs. slowly, phone vs. letter, etc. I have no opinions. I don't need them to call me -- I'll get the hint. Letting me know somehow, relatively quickly, is great -- but if this is keeping people up at night, they deserve to have a long wait. I'm pretty sure everyone gets a job somewhere. It all works out. If it's the right match, they'll let us know.

S is for SUITS -- Yay for business casual. If only the interviews could be too. I feel funny wearing a suit, especially to the lunch, when everyone else is jacket-and-tie-free. I guess I'm not really that bothered by the suit, although it's warm under all the layers, but it'd be nicer to be able to skip it. I think.

T is for TAKING VACATIONS -- One interviewer said she wanted to "pre-emptively" tell me that she takes all her vacation time, because most people ask. I hadn't been asking. Then I started asking. Some do, some don't. Some firms seem to cancel vacations, some don't. I like the ones that don't better. All else being equal. One person told me the firm has a policy that if you work more than 4 hours on a day you're on vacation it doesn't count as a vacation day. At first that sounded good. Then I realized the mere fact they have a policy about this.... Uh oh.

U is for UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION -- "We're the friendly firm," "We're the laid-back firm," "We're the collegial firm," "We're the humane firm." Pick an adjective. They're on sale. Each firm seemed to have a message it was trying to convey. "We do important work," "We have smart people," "We work hard." No repeats. Find your own uniqueness. But not too unique.

V is for VAULT.COM -- I don't know what the Vault rankings are actually ranking. I can't find a methodology. But people seem to listen. I don't know if they're "right" or not, and what it all means. Does it matter? I don't know. Someone tell me. Unless I don't really want to know.

W is for WINDOWS -- Nice views, out every window, from every firm. They're all on the 57th floor somewhere, so you see something. It's cool. I enjoyed the views.

X is for X-PECTATIONS -- I found that the firms I expected to like the best, I didn't necessarily, and a couple that I'd been less interested in really surprised me. They all say to judge based on the "people," since the work's largely the same. But we meet 4 people. Yet -- yet -- I really did feel a difference in mood and personality between the firms. Random stuff, people smiling, were the doors open, how much light, stuff like that. At some places it clicked, at some it didn't. I think that's all we have to go on though....

Y is for YAWNING -- I sometimes couldn't stop. It's terrible, I know.

Z is for ZOOBILEE ZOO -- Can you think of a better Z? Zoobilee Zoo was a TV show where people dressed up like animals. We dress up in suits. Close enough?

That's a lot of words. If you stuck with me all the way to the end, thanks. You're probably ready for a nap. Me too.
I am back in the land of free-Internet, and have finished all of my callback interviews. Apologies for the short posts the last couple of days. I'll make up for it. I hope to be able to wrap up all talk about this kind of stuff pretty soon, but since it's the only law-related stuff on my mind for now, I'll try to at least extract some humor from it.

Coming Soon: The A-to-Z Guide To Callback Interviews

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Again at Kinko's (a different one). Tomorrow I'll be back in free-Internet land and, coincidentally, will also be done with interviewers. I'll post something longer then, no worries. I've got the first 300 words of something percolating in my head. Good callback today, I liked the people. I don't what else there is to go on. I keep running into classmates of mine at these firms' offices (not surprising), in the subway stations (more surprising), and randomly passing on the street (kind of surprising).

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Posting this at a Kinko's in between two callback interviews today. My only day with two. It's a grind. Talking about myself all day. Gosh.

From one interviewer this morning: " son does some writing too. He has some sort of 'blog' or something like that."

Me: "Oh."

And I could have mentioned mine, because I really don't think I have anything on here I have any problem with any of these firms reading. But I figured why bother. I did tell an interviewer he can find my law school newspaper columns on the web if he wants to read them (he asked if I had any samples on me), so he may very well stumble across this if he was actually interested and bothers to search around (if you're reading this, hi! I'm writing this from the Kinko's that's a block away from your office! :). But I'm guessing not. And that's fine too.

Biggest thing I'm taking from these callbacks (besides brochures and NALP reimbursement forms...) is the real difference in "feel" among different places. There's definitely a continuum of intensity, from "a normal, regular workplace" to "this is not your normal workplace. this is a new york law firm." That's not a negative/positive continuum; it just is. More to say when this is all over I guess.

This is costing me 30 cents a minute to type. Making me wonder if it'd be worth 30 cents a minute to read...

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

A very very very good article about Tina Fey that almost makes me forget that Saturday Night Live just isn't very funny.

And... a short song parody inspired by the myths more than the reality of these interviews:

(To the tune of "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow")

Oh, you say the work will be delighting
That the cases will be exciting
But you'll be chaining me to the floor
Pay me more, pay me more, pay me more

Oh, you want me to work these long hours
Give up interests, sleep, and showers
Trade my wife in for a whore
Pay me more, pay me more, pay me more

When I finally get to go
Will I see that my life's gone away?
So to not make me see that, I know
That I'll have no choice but to stay

Oh, in forty years I could be wealthy
And besides the 6 heart attacks, healthy
But I might have turned into a bore
Pay me more, pay me more, pay me more

Monday, October 27, 2003

Help me pick a place to work!

Choice 1

Choice 2

Choice 3
This post is an exaggeration, and refers to just a small sample of the places I've visited. I'm not intending to generalize, just to note a specific kind of thing that's out there. "I used to have friends, but since I started working here, it's hard to find time, and so I don't really anymore." That's not verbatim at all. But sentiments like that -- I don't think it's a real effective recruiting line for a lawyer to say when he's interviewing someone. These mostly aren't things I've actually heard -- I'm trying to exaggerate for effect here -- but these would be equally ineffective lines. If you're interviewing people, you might want to avoid them:

>"I've only pulled 5 or 6 all-nighters... in the past week."
>"I don't understand work-life balance. Work *is* life. Isn't that enough?"
>"Sure, I don't know how many kids I have. But at least I'm filthy rich."
>"I know my secretary's name. Oh wait, no I don't."
>"I know my wife's name. Oh wait, that was the third wife. What am I on now, six, seven?"
>"You have interests on your resume. You're not planning on doing those things while working here, are you?"
>"You can leave and have dinner with friends. As long as you come back afterwards."
>"I work part-time. 5 days a week, 9 AM - 7 PM. A reduced schedule."
>"We have Broadway tickets. No one's ever been able to get out of work in time to go."
>"Everyone I know who's a lawyer is sad. Here, you'll be no sadder than anywhere else."
I hear LSAT scores have come out. Some handy "just got my score" advice from another blogger over here. My take on it:

1. If you really really really messed up, and you think you can do better than you did, take it again. This whole interview season thing tells me that some advice this blogger gave a while ago was right -- you kinda do want to go to the best school you can if you want to maximize your chances of getting a high-paying lawyer job (or getting into academia) afterwards. Of course, if your reasons for going to law school don't involve the high-paying lawyer job (and I say that absolutely with a straight face -- tons of other reasons to be at law school, whether they be other kinds of lawyer jobs, job advancement that may require a law degree, just want to learn cool stuff about law, bored and wealthy... I'm sure more I'm not thinking of), then maybe no big deal. But it really does seem like where you go to school correlates kind of strongly (probably too strongly) with the job stuff available to you right out of school, and LSAT score correlates kind of strongly with where you get in. So maybe not terrible advice to perhaps think about taking it again if you know you should have done better and really think you can. Of course, every situation is different; this isn't great advice for every situation. Obviously.

2. If you did much better than you thought you'd do, probably don't take it again. Yes, I had to go and ruin a serious post with an attempt at humor. Sorry about that. But, seriously, if you aced the thing and thought you'd be going to University of Phoenix Online and now you can get into Yale, congratulations and never tell anyone you thought you'd get a 132 and got 45 points higher.

3. If you got about what you thought you'd get, and it's not as good as you'd want, but you don't know what to do about it, take a deep breath. And ignore point #1. It's elitist and silly. People who do really really well pretty much everywhere get jobs at exactly the same places that people at the very top schools do. Location starts to matter -- if you want to work in Kansas, don't go to law school in Nebraska (ed. note: Kansas and Nebraska are right next to each other. My response: Oops. Yeah, I guess maybe they are. I just lump them all together in the big mass in the middle.). But yeah, location may matter -- go to school where you want to work -- and you have to do really really well for certain jobs -- but doors are not all closed. Still lots of opportunities. You'll survive, you'll have a law degree, you'll be fine.

4. If you received your score report, but accidentally lost it before opening it and don't know how you did, call the LSAT people. I'm sure for something like $428, they can send you another copy. If you beg.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

My laptop is stupid. It doesn't know it's daylight savings time. Every other computer on the whole planet knows to change the clock, and my computer doesn't. Stupid. Almost as stupid as my watch, which keeps inexplicably getting faster and faster. I set it to be three minutes fast about three months ago. It's nine minutes fast now. Well, an hour and nine minutes fast. But the hour is because of daylight savings time obviously. Stupid computer. I have to manually change the time now. And then probably tomorrow it'll remember it should've changed and it'll be an hour behind.

Check out Diary of a Stand-Up Comedian for a really, really, really compelling take on the life of an aspiring stand-up comic. It's really human. That's the best word I've got for it. I stumbled onto it through a confluence of links I clicked on, and just read the entire site over the past couple of hours. There's a lot of words there. I generally don't particularly like most of what I read, especially when it's just some random person's weblog (but of course I'm glad your standards are low enough to come visit mine... :). This I couldn't bring myself to stop reading. Read it.

Tomorrow I get to experience the first of a handful of "callback lunches." These are, not to be obvious, lunches that firms take you on if you have a morning callback. Two associates and me at this one that I've got tomorrow. I'm confident the restaurant they take me to will at least be decent, hopefully more. When I was on the phone scheduling they asked if I had any dietary restrictions. I was tempted to make something up. "Can't eat anything orange" could be kind of funny to see if they could work around. "Strict carnivore; no vegetables" would be a pretty solid ticket to a steakhouse I guess. "Allergic to anything that begins with the letter 'B'" would test them pretty well. "Only foods with three syllables" would start to sound like an improv comedy game.

Five Things I Probably Shouldn't Eat At Lunch Since I Only Have One Suit and One Dress Shirt That Doesn't Already Need a Cleaning

1. Anything with a red sauce
2. Anything with any sauce at all
3. Anything with any liquid ingredients
4. Anything with any substance that could potentially stick to me
5. Anything with any color

I'll be enjoying ice and plastic for lunch. Perhaps some broken glass for dessert.

Four Foods I Wish I -- (naw, make that "Everyone") -- Was Allergic To

1. Brains
2. Feet
3. Mayonnaise
4. Cauliflower
NY Times article about the competitive college admissions game, with heartwarming quotes like this one:

"Once they get into a school, the next morning they have the decal up on their car in the Greeley parking lot, so you know so-and-so got into Harvard," she said. "Someone got the super-size Yale one that takes up half the window. It was disgusting."

Saturday, October 25, 2003

800 Words About Callback Interviews

A partner said to me, “Look, the work is going to be pretty much the same at any of these places. Unless you have a very specific kind of law you’re looking to practice, and everyone says this firm or that firm is the absolute leader in that field, then the work’s going to be the same wherever you go. And you can say you’re going to choose based on the people, but the people everywhere are going to tell you that the people there are great; and if they didn’t like the people there, they wouldn’t still be working there, so what can you really tell from that? Plus you meet a handful of lawyers out of the hundreds in each place – it’s not a big enough sample. Think of it this way: really there are no wrong choices. You’ll end up here, or you’ll end up down the street, but wherever you are, it’s all pretty much the same.”

And with that, my callback interviews were off and running. It’s hard to go through this process without feeling like you’re turning into a cartoon version of yourself. In reruns. “Here’s the episode where I talk about my senior thesis and the lawyer nods her head.” It's been on seven times this week. Like South Park. “Here's the episode where I accidentally walk into the wall.” In between interviews at one firm, I asked the recruiter who was escorting me from room to room if I could use the restroom. She looked at me as if I’d violated some rule of interview etiquette – that we ought to be trained well enough to know not to drink too much before the interviews, because a good lawyer doesn’t ever go to the bathroom. He just absorbs it all back into his bloodstream. On the way to the bathroom, I concocted an elaborate story that I would use to explain my trip just in case one of the lawyers were to accuse me of unprofessionalism for having gone to the bathroom in the middle of the callback interview process. It was research, I decided. Surely seeing how clean a firm’s bathroom is can be an important factor in making the ultimate decision. I was forcing myself to go when I didn’t really have to, just to do some undercover bathroom research. Yes, that was it. And sparkling clean. They won points for that. Three points, to be exact. Three points on my firm-o-matic ranking machine (licensed by Vault, by the way). Bathroom cleanliness is worth a maximum of three points; variety of snacks in vending machines can earn up to seven points, a water cooler is an automatic five, every plush piece of furniture I pass is worth one-and-a-half, and every painting of an unidentifiable landscape that looks nothing like a city is worth two for atmosphere. It does seem like the art in some of these offices shares a similar theme. “We’ve all moved into the big city because the work is exciting here and life is grand. So let’s put up paintings of fields and farms and hilltops and meadows on the wall. Remind us of life back before we lived in an antiseptic office building for a hundred hours a week.”

I walk into the second lawyer’s office. She must have been chosen as one of my interviewers because we have the same color eyes. I feel like I imagine the interviewers are more carefully chosen for us than they really are, and I find myself thinking up complex reasons for why I’ve been assigned to meet with each of these people. Her husband works for a software company. I used to work for a software company. That must be it. He’s a baseball fan; I mentioned in my on-campus interview I like baseball. She just came here from the firm down the street and really wants to talk smack about it; I mentioned to the recruiter by accident that the firm down the street is really my first choice. Oh, wait. That one might actually make sense. But seriously, I have a friend at a firm who burst my bubble on this one. “They send out e-mails that ask who’s free to interview on Thursday at 4,” he said. “And that’s how they pick the interviewers.” Oh. And next he told me there’s no Santa Claus. It’s such a letdown.

Santa Claus in the lobby, by the way: four points. Two-ply toilet paper: three points. People saying hello to each other when they pass in the hall: ten points. People spitting on each other when they pass in the hall: minus ten points. People leaping from the windows – floors 1-25: minus five points; floors 25-50: minus ten points; floors 50+: minus fifteen points. Free food: one point per bite.

Heck, my system probably makes more sense than whatever it is Vault does.
This is a really really really interesting article in this weekend's NY Times magazine about how lots of well-educated, smart, driven women are stepping out of the workforce to raise their children, and are finding that life more fulfilling than perhaps working 80 hours a week at a law firm, or becoming a corporate CEO, or running the world.

My reaction to the article: What's wrong with this? They're smart. There's more to life than 80-hour work weeks. I think. I hope. I sometimes wonder why the ideal that's held up for us to strive for involves lots of money, lots of power, lots of responsibility -- but not always lots of fulfillment. It's not work-life balance I'm talking about. It's finding a meaningful life, whatever combination that entails -- finding work that doesn't feel like work, so you're happy to do it; finding life that really makes days worth living. I don't know what the magic combination is, what the answers are -- but at least let's ask the questions. Is a six-figure salary always worth it? Good article. Read the article.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Firm #2 had just as much paper on the desks as Firm #1, so I guess it's a lawyer thing. Lots of piles of paper. On a different note: I was talking to friend today who works at a law firm, and he was telling me about how the interviewers we see on these callback interviewers really aren't as well-chosen as we might think. I've been coming up with complicated explanations for each person I see -- "well, they wanted me to talk to this person because he's interested in this, and that person because she went to the same undergrad as me, and this person because his eyes are the same color as mine..." -- but he said that basically they just send out an e-mail that asks who'd be willing to help out with interviewing on Thursday afternoon, they see who replies, and they put together interview schedules, trying to balance out associates and partners, or trying to minimize the amount of in-building travel, or trying to fit it around someone's conference call -- but that there's not nearly as much deliberation as we might think there is. Which I guess makes sense, since they have lots of other things to spend time on and actually coming up with reasons for each interviewer and then making the scheduling work seems like it might be a huge undertaking. Of course, my friend only knows about his firm, and other firms may be different. But it's interesting to think about.

The biggest message I'm getting so far in this process is that generally, for all but the most specialized interests, most of these firms acknowledge that the work is pretty much the same no matter where you are, and the differences really come down to the people, and the culture, and other stuff that's hard to get a handle on in the interview process. And that basically there are no wrong choices, and you just have to go with your gut and find the right fit. Which I guess makes sense, since this is a pretty small sliver of the employment universe and how different can these places really be. One interviewer somewhere along the road in the process told me that what's hardest about finding where people are "happiest" or where "quality of life" is highest, or anything like that is that the people who are unhappy leave and go elsewhere, so most of the people you meet at a firm probably like it there. No matter where. And the challenge is to somehow figure out in a 30-minute interview whether they seem like the kind of person that if they like it there, you'd like it there too. Which is obviously a task for someone with super-human powers. But those are the kinds of powers they'll expect from us when we start working, anyway.

Another observation about these callback interviews: I feel like having 4 back-to-back interviews becomes sort of like this transformation from nervous and quiet to quite a bit looser by the end. So the same question gets totally different answers just depending on when in the process it is:

Interviewer 1: "So what kind of law are you looking to practice?"
Answer 1: "Probably litigation, I guess. I really like the idea of having to think persuasively and come up with effective arguments to advance the client's interests."

Interviewer 2: "So what kind of law are you looking to practice?"
Answer 2: "Litigation, probably. I like arguing, persuading people, coming up with effective ways to get the client what he wants, making things happen, winning the case."

Interviewer 3: "So what kind of law are you looking to practice?"
Answer 3: "Litigation, almost certainly. I'm a born litigator. I love to argue, get down and dirty with another lawyer, get the client what he deserves, persuade a jury that our way is the only way."

Interviewer 4: "So what kind of law are you looking to practice?"
Answer 4: "I can't see myself doing anything but litigation. My middle name is litigatore, which is Latin for litigation. I love to fight with people, like in a wrestling ring, with jello. I want to win, win, win, and bring fame and fortune to your clients, your firm, and mostly me. Because I'm just a fighter that way. Litigation rocks!"

I'm exaggerating my point. But you see what I mean.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Jewish Buddha, who writes a basically-anonymous weblog, writes about how an employer found his weblog and, while it didn't lead to any disaster, it could have.
I'm now "elsewhere" (as I promised I'd soon be in my post this morning). And I've now had one callback interview. And like you might guess, a callback interview is a lot like an on-campus interview, only the windows look out onto something different and the desks are covered with papers. Actually, that's my most interesting observation -- there's an awful lot of paper on these people's desks. Piles and piles and piles of paper. I don't know what any of it was -- maybe the first 437 drafts of a full-length screenplay, I don't know -- but there was an awful lot of it on the four desks of the people I interviewed with. Even more paper than all the paper lying around the office of the Environmental Law Review at school. Really! Anyway, the callback left me with good feelings about the firm and little in the way of actual insightful observation. I actually came up with what seems like a decent question to ask at these things -- although I didn't actually ask it exactly to any of the interviewers today. Basically: "So obviously I'm looking at a bunch of firms this week -- you've been through this process before; what do you think I should be looking for this week as I visit these offices that won't necessarily be obvious?"

The only problem with that question is that I expect the answers will all be pretty much the same. "It's the people. And here at we really do have special people. We all get along, we hang out after work, they're my friends, I enjoy being here. You're going to work hard anywhere, but what really matters are the people." And they'd be right, of course... but I get to meet a handful of people, and I'm sure they don't send the monsters to interview... so I feel like it's a good thought in principle, but I'll probably like everyone I meet.

Now if someone were to say, "Look out for large stacks of paper on people's desks..." well, then we'd be getting somewhere.
I'll soon be posting from elsewhere for ten days or so. Next week is "fly-out" week, when basically everyone goes to whatever city (or cities) he or she is interviewing in and does callback interviews. Or, in the case of 3Ls with offers they've accepted or 2Ls not taking part in the process (there are a few...), it's a week-long vacation to wherever. I know one person going to Hawaii and another to Paris. I am not. It is nice that Harvard's schedule allows for this, though -- I hear there are lots and lots of schools that make everyone schedule the interviews around 3-day weekends, or miss classes, or other unpleasant stuff like that (perhaps you're thinking that having to miss class isn't unpleasant... and I suppose that's fair... but still, not having to deal with that is way more convenient).

The Office of Career Services had a session about what callbacks are like last week. Unfortunately, they held it while on-campus interviews were still going on, and I had an interview. Also unfortunately (for those that attended), I heard it was useless. I was going to read up on the OCS web site about callback interviews, and whether callback is one word or there's a dash in the middle, but the password-protected section of Harvard's entire site appears to be down, or my computer is screwy. Either way, whatever surely-valuable information is there is inaccesible to me.

The only solution? I've got to write my own. Bear in mind I've yet to have a callback interview, so this will not be useful to anyone looking for real information. But what can you do?


1. Only go to callbacks to which you have been invited by the firm. While it may seem tempting to dress up in your favorite suit and go wandering through downtown wherever knocking on the doors of the firms that rejected you and trying to convince them that your name ought to be on the list, in order to spend hours and hours talking to their attorneys, who, in the end will figure out you shouldn't have been there and not give you an offer anyway, you're really just wasting your time and theirs. Guidebooks that propose this as an appropriate interview strategy most likely were written by the same people who say that to get a high score on the SAT, you should always pick "C." Everyone knows you should always pick "B."

2. It's probably a bad idea to schedule two callbacks in different cities in the same day. Or at least at the same time. Air travel has advanced by leaps and bounds since most of these big law firms were founded back in the days of Christopher Columbus (Did You Know: John Adams worked for 7 of the top 10 Vault-ranked firms in his day. He kept getting fired for stealing office supplies!). While you could theoretically interview in New York at 7 AM, be on a plane by noon, get to LA by 2 PM with the time change, interview at 3 PM and be in San Francisco for a late dinner, this strategy is ill-advised. For some reason. I can't remember why.

3. When a firm takes you to "lunch," it's not really lunch. It's a test. To see if you are bulimic. Big law firms have recently been in the news for promoting an unhealthy body image among young associates. Rates of bulimia at corporate law firms have surpassed those at playgrounds, nursing homes, and construction sites. Given this epidemic, law firms are now screening each candidate at a "lunch" to ensure healthy eating habits and a positive body image. If you're invited for lunch, DO NOT, under any circumstances, go to the restroom at any point during the meal. You will be followed. You will not receive an offer. Also: gratuitous intake of unhealthy food is encouraged at these meals, to "prove" you're okay with your appetite. Eat pats of butter, by themselves. Lick everyone's bread. Steal food from partners' plates. Get three desserts. You'll get an offer, guaranteed!*

*note: the word "guaranteed" is mere puff and is not indicative of any actual guarantee about anything at all.

4. Lawyers LOVE off-color jokes. Tell a lot of them. Especially the one about the priest, the rabbi, and the Jehaovah's Witness. They love that one.

5. All law firms operate on Greenwich Mean Time. It's a little known fact. But what this means is that unless your interview is in Greenwich (either England or Connecticut, both are fine), you'll need to set your watch differently. A 10 AM interview is really at 4 in the afternoon! I betcha didn't know that! When you show up 6 hours late, the firm will congratulate you on your sophistication and understanding of complex legal matters like time zones. Which are indeed very tricky. A special problem on Monday, after the clocks change this Sunday (see, there IS something useful buried in here -- change your clock on Sunday! And every Sunday!)

6.-13. Some lawyers only have 8 fingers and toes. Point that out to them. It demonstrates your sharp legal mind. And lets me quickly skip through 8 numbers quickly as I realize I'm hungry and won't be able to think of 15 things to write before lunchtime.

14. Urine sample. Most firms will want a urine sample along with your transcript and three references. It's very important to avoid going to the bathroom for 48 hours before your interview so that you'll be able to fill the three-gallon jug they will provide. Anyone unable to fill the jug is automatically rejected, as per NALP guidelines and a recent National Board of Health directive entitled, "Three Gallons is Just About Enough!" (LEXIS, 2003).

15. Jokes about urine (see #14) are especially encouraged.

There's an interesting post over at En Banc about law review articles, building off of a post over at The Volokh Conspiracy. The post basically replies to a hypothetical professor's question about what to do when top journals reject his or her work, and seeks explanations.

One of the reasons I'm linking to En Banc is that it's a new group law blog, made up of 8 people who've also got weblogs of their own. As you'll see if you check it out, I'm one of the eight, and mostly just feel pleased to have been asked to take part, and since I basically say no to nothing.... It won't affect anything that happens here (it would be awfully dumb for me to let it, I think) -- En Banc's focused much more on "real" legal issues, and serious stuff like that, stuff that I'd have no context (or inspiration, really) to post normally, but given the group nature of the blog, someone else's posts may occasionally spark something in me, and that gives me a place to respond. This remains what it is -- that's just some other stuff if I'm so inspired. It may become more trouble than it's worth, but it may also turn out cool. I don't know. Just an experiment. I was actually thinking about posting anonymously over there, but that really seemed like more trouble than it's worth. And I'll flag anything good from there over here.

Like this law review discussion, which I thought was interesting enough that I'd link. My take on legal journals and how they work, at least at Harvard?

My "Law Review Helga" replies to a post by "Law Review Sally" that tells Professor "Seattle" that maybe her article just wasn't good enough and that's why it got rejected by the journals:

"Seattle, don't listen to Sally. I'm sure your article was great. But let's face it. These journals are run by law students. Law students who barely do the reading they have to do for class, let alone the extra reading they volunteer to do so they can add 'submissions committee' to their resumes. The kid who read your article read it in eight minutes while watching South Park, and besides that is just a 2L who's never taken a class in the subject you wrote about and can't tell the difference between a groundbreaking legal article on the topic and a USA Today feature story on how many stars there are on the US flag. So it's not your fault, Seattle. It's the system. If you want to get published by today's youth running these journals (don't ask Law Review Helga her age... but she was Rutherford Hayes' kindergarten teacher, so she's been around a while), you need lewd pictures and four-letter words. That's the ticket, Seattle. Don't lose hope."

In all seriousness, I'm on the "submissions committee" of the journal I'm on here (which really just means I've read an article or three and written up a brief report, thumbs-up or thumbs-down -- I'm sure on the Law Review it's much more intense). And most of the articles I've read, to be honest, are simply beyond my understanding. I don't know that much law, I don't know what's "groundbreaking" in any particular field... I'm just guessing. I'm trying -- but heck if I know what makes an article publishable in a top journal in the field. I mean, I can say if something's readable, clear, well-written... but new and noteworthy? So I don't know that I really understand the student-in-control system... or if in the end it really works, or it doesn't... but yeah, Seattle's article may be junk, but it also may just be it fell into the wrong hands over at the journal.

And actually I just had a 3-hour "mass subcite" tonight, which, even when you're an "article editor" and theoretically "running" the subcite, still isn't all that much fun. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Obviously if you care, you're probably already watching -- but it's 3-3 in the 9th over in World Series Land, so get thee to a TV if you only like 'em when they're exciting. :)

A-to-Z list of things you probably don't want to do at a callback interview...

Ask about the salary
Call the interviewer, "sweetheart." Especially if he's a man.
Drink from the company toilet
Eat too many free cookies and vomit on the interviewer's shoes
Grope the recruiter
Hire a doppelganger to pretend to be you
Iron your shirt while you're wearing it
Jump out the 33rd-floor window
Kick the interviewer. Hard.
Lie about your criminal

Murder someone
Never look him in the eye
Open your fly
Poison the interviewer's coffee
Quit -- even before getting the offer
Respond to all questions only with hand signals
Show up naked
Take your shoes off during the interviewer
Use lots of curse words
Vomit (see E, above)
Wash your tie -- ties don't like that (lesson learned)
X-ray your chest, and give the interviewer a copy when he asks for the resume (I'm stretching)
Zip your fly. Or don't.
Here's a NY Times article about a "sushi memo." Apparently a partner at a big NY firm had a paralegal write up a comparison report on the quality of sushi at different area restaurants, citing Zagat's guide and other sources. Pretty funny.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Re: my post over the weekend about hoping for some new ideas of stuff to write about besides interviews, a reader e-mailed to ask:

"How practical do you think your education is, in terms of actually being a lawyer?... I'm torn. I feel like much of what I'm learning will make me a better lawyer. But better than an apprenticeship? I'm not sure. I just wondered what your take was, particularly given the stereotype that higher ranked schools aren't the curved competitive mess that the 2nd tiered schools (like mine) are. Do you feel like you are prepared for the real world? Do you even know?"

It's a great question, and I wish I had a great answer. The truth is, though, I really don't know. I don't really know beyond the basics what lawyers at law firms do, what lawyers not at law firms do, what lawyers in any context besides being a law professor do. And the knowledge and skills they use and need to perform their jobs well. I mean, I know they do legal research, and write memos and briefs, and counsel clients, and try to come up with solutions to problems within the context of the applicable legal rules. Or something like that. And I guess that's more than I knew before starting law school. But without actually working at a law firm, I don't know that I have any idea whether law school is good at training us for the work we'll do, or bad at it. I do think law school does a fine job of teaching us how to think about the various spheres of law we have courses in -- I feel like I understand a lot of the issues in contract law, in property law... that I could recognize when there's a problem, and have some idea what kinds of things I'd need to do in order to get a better handle on it. Obviously we don't learn the actual legal provisions of state law, or details like that... but we at least get a framework and I feel like we know how to find out a lot of what we need. In the areas of law I haven't taken a course in, I'm not sure simply being at law school has done all that much except show me there are lots of neat study guides I could probably use, and, of course, Lexis and Westlaw. But ask me a question about Tax Law, and I'd be pretty stumped. The one area I do feel like there's probably a bit of a disconnect regards writing -- from everything I know, much of a lawyer's time is spent writing -- persuasive writing, like briefs, or clear and concise memos, carefully drafted documents, etc. Yet in law school -- at least here -- we take a pass-fail writing class that nobody fails, and we write a couple of memos, and that's it. Writing out of the way, all done. The focus is minimal. Which seems not to be how it goes in the real world.

So the short version of that long-winded paragraph is that I have no idea -- I don't know if I'm prepared for the real world any more than I was before, and whether the training I assume I'll get at whatever place I work will build on what we learn in law school, or be closer to starting from scratch. And on some level, it doesn't really matter, I don't think -- I'm no more or less prepared than my classmates, and I'm sure the firms have figured out what they need to teach us and what we've learned in school, and we all end up okay in the end. So the thought that I may not be learning anything useful, bad as it sounds to say, doesn't really worry me as long as I feel like I'm learning about as much as anyone else is and will be starting off at the same baseline.

And I don't know if it's any different here than anywhere else -- I've got no reason to believe the coursework is substantially different -- we use the same casebooks as anywhere else -- and it is competitive here, and there is a curve -- although it is probably a lower-pressure environment than elsewhere just because of the job situation coming out. But having only been here, I don't know how different it is elsewhere.

Good question. Deserves a better answer than I've got. But at least it's not about interviews. :)

One of my professors today used the phrase, "clean as a baby's bottom." Which sounded a little off to me. Because if there's one thing I'd describe a baby's bottom as, clean probably isn't it.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Henry Kissinger is on The Daily Show right now. He is not that funny. He's talking about his new book, which contains transcripts of conversations he had with world leaders during the 1973 Syria-Egypt-Israel conflict and the 1975 Vietnam-US conflict. Not to take anything away from Dr. Kissinger, but it seems awfully easy to "write" a book that's simply a transcript of his conversations. Since they were all tape-recorded. No, obviously this is interesting stuff to people interested in this stuff. Kobe Bryant is writing a similar book.

[Imagine that right here is a transcript of what a Kobe Bryant conversation would be like. Whatever you can imagine is probably funnier than whatever I can think of, so I won't even try.]

Don Zimmer is writing a similar book too:

DON ZIMMER: "I don't like that Pedro Martinez guy. His head's too small."
YANKEES PITCHING COACH MEL STOTTLEMYRE: "Look at that, Don. Everyone's rushing out on to the field."
DON ZIMMER: "I think I'll go beat up Pedro. Here I come!"
MEL STOTTLEMYRE: "Be careful, Don."
DON ZIMMER: "I hate you, Pedro."
PEDRO MARTINEZ: "Your head is so big."
DON ZIMMER: "All the better to---"
PEDRO MARTINEZ: "Bye, bye, Don."
DON ZIMMER: "I'm rolling--- and I can't get up."

P.S. There's an interesting post about the different types of weblogs over here at the Civil Procedure weblog.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Not to return to a topic I'm ready to leave, but... there's an interesting post on a less-interesting thread on the Princeton Review law school discussion board about Harvard's on-campus-interviewing process. The thread topic is about how the original poster didn't get as many callbacks as he or she hoped, and blames the school. Basically. Which isn't really fair, because if there's one thing Harvard does well, it's bring lots of firms to campus who all want to hire us. So most of the thread isn't all that useful. But there's a post by a poster, "Efficient Breach," towards the end of the thread, that talks about Harvard's policy against letting firms pre-screen by looking at our transcripts and instead forcing firms to go through the charade of a twenty-minute interview with someone they'll never hire. The thread is here. My take on it is pretty middle-of-the-road: if there are really firms that are pre-screening based on grades, and under no circumstances will give jobs to someone with a GPA below [whatever], then it really doesn't seem to make sense to waste their time and students' time by not letting them pre-screen these people beforehand. But, if it's possible for the firms to be persuaded by an exceptional interview, and override the grade cutoff, even in just a handful of special cases, then I guess I think not letting them pre-screen is okay. I break no new ground with this position, obviously. Efficient Breach's post basically says the same thing, but comes down in the direction of assuming these firms do have hard cutoffs, and therefore Harvard is being silly by not letting them pre-screen. I'm inclined to think that a truly superb interview -- and borderline grades that would perhaps have been screened out if pre-screening was allowed -- might in some cases tip the balance (obviously this is just a guess), even when a firm insists its cutoff is firm, and so I'd probably come out in the direction of keeping the policy as is. The biggest worry I'd have about letting firms pre-screen (and I imagine this is Harvard's worry too) is that firms that in practice wouldn't have a real cut-off, if given the chance would love to only have to see people in the top half/third/whatever of the class -- and will only interview those students, just because they only have to. While now, those same firms may very well be hiring people who fall below there. So the number of firms with "cut-offs" would increase, just because the process would enable them to have them. Maybe?

EDITED TO ADD (MONDAY 9:45 AM): "Efficient Breach" posted a response on the Princeton Review board here. I agree with EB's argument that if firms truly have "firm bars" then it's just wasting everyone's time for them to have to interview people below that bar. But EB writes: "Jeremy's hypothesis is that allowing prescreening will move employers from a soft bar to a firm bar. But why?" Like I said, it's just a guess: but I think more firms would employ cut-offs just because it would be easier for them to do so. Suppose a firm tends to call back 50% of students above a certain GPA, and 10% of students below a certain GPA, just because it's sufficiently impressed with them, or whatever. The firm may absolutely believe that the 10% they call back below the line are great candidates -- but given the ability to pre-screen, could decide it's just not worth sending three more interviewers up, and having to wade through the 90% they won't be taking, just to find the 10% -- when they can still get the 50% of above-the-line students they want, and maybe take a few extras to compensate on the numbers, who may have been borderline candidates before. I don't think that would be an unreasonable thought process necessarily. So not letting them pre-screen means those 10% get callbacks, but letting them pre-screen would mean they wouldn't even get interviews. Maybe I'm wrong -- maybe it's so competitive between firms that each firm wants to absolutely interview as many people as possible to find those "10%" gems that may not have the high GPA, or because they know if they pre-screen they may not get enough Harvard students to fill their class -- or whatever other reasons are out there. But just as a thought exercise, it seems to me it could cut either way, and for some firms (perhaps the very top firms, who aren't worried that losing my hypothetical "10%" will really impact the overall Harvard yield) it would go the way of closing a door that for a few students would have otherwise been open. (Also, thanks to EB for the kind words about my weblog at the top of his response... appreciated, really.)
In case you haven't heard: the NY Post ran an editorial on Friday saying the Red Sox had beaten the Yankees in Game 7. See details here. Apparently they'd written two versions, depending on how the game ended, and somebody pushed the wrong button. Whoops. The site the link is to, Romenesko's Media News, by the way, is an awfully interesting site for discovering news about the news. Cool stuff.
Good column by Rob Neyer over at about why sports fans care so much about their teams.
Anyone got any questions / thoughts / comments about law school / about anything? One of my friends who's not a law student e-mailed me and said, in part:

"I've just been reading your weblog some for the first time in a while... I think it's really funny how it seems from the
weblog that all you do is go to interviews and think about interviewing... it's just funny picturing you sitting in interviews and waiting in interviews... so much that you're compelled to make fun of interviews in every possible way and in every possible comedic format you can think up."

He's right. I need new inspiration besides these interviews. It's overkill. But because (a) classes are the same as they've been and there's nothing much new to say about them, (b) extracurricular activities are the same as they've been and there's nothing much new to say about them, and (c) I have nothing useful or amusing to say about Iraq, interviews are the "new thing" that I feel compelled to post about. But if I have to write one more "Top Ten Tie Patterns Interviewers Wear... (1) stripes; (2) checks; (3) dollar signs; (4) skull and crossbones; (5) horns and pitchforks; (6) nuclear bomb mushroom clouds; (7) gravestones; (8) brimstone and fire; (9) mini-Saddam Hussein pictures; (10) Kenny from South Park," I don't think I'm justifying my existence.

So if anyone wants to see other stuff, I'm at your mercy. E-mail.

PLUS: Check out this NY Times article about a Mailboxes Etc. employee-by-day, rock-musician-by-night that's pretty interesting.

AND: I read something a few days ago about how the government is spending millions and millions of dollars on advertisements for the new $20 bill. They're spending money to advertise... money. As if they're competing with Canadian currency and wampum and need to increase market share. "I don't know, Bob. They're not spending money like they used to. I saw someone using beads in the local 7-11. I think we need to advertise more." "Yes, John, I think you're right. Let's spend millions of dollars to let people know how cool money is, and all the things you can do with it." "I have a great slogan. Bob. 'Money. It's everywhere you want to be.'" "I think VISA took that one already." "Oh, yeah, you're right." "How about this one? 'The touch, the feel, of money. The fabric of our lives.'" "No, that's cotton." "Oh, whoops." "This is hard. Good thing we have so much money to spend." "We can't spend all of it. We need to save one $20 bill to actually appear in the commercial." "Oh yeah, you're right." "Let's go to lunch." "Okay."

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Dear Interviewer Dude,

The Office of Career Services tells us it’s unnecessary for us to write thank you notes after our on-campus interviews, but I wanted to send you a note anyway, to tell you how much I enjoyed our meeting last week and how much I look forward to getting to know more about your firm should I be invited to come and visit the office.

I wanted to thank you first for making me wait in the hallway for forty-two minutes while you beat the interview hotel’s room service attendant with your stylish yet functional leather belt.

Also, I wanted to thank you for tearing up my transcript into little bits when I handed it to you. I was waiting for an interviewer to do that. Thank you for getting up in the middle of the interview to relieve yourself on the carpet. Thank you for taking a cell phone call in the middle of the interview from your sister with the bumpy rash. Yes, your speaker volume was that high. Thank you for insulting my mom. Thank you for kicking me under the table. Repeatedly. Thank you for smelling like cheese.

Thank you for licking me when I went to shake your hand. Thank you for inviting me to use the bathroom and then locking me inside for half an hour. Thank you for stabbing me with a plastic fork. Thank you for making me sit through a screening of “Gigli” before you would let me leave at the end of the interview. Thank you for removing my left kidney using only the instruments in the hotel sewing kit. I only need one kidney.

But, most of all, thank you in advance for the callback invitation. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Grateful Student

Dear Grateful Student,

I very much enjoyed meeting with you last week when I was on campus. I especially enjoyed your responses to the following questions:

1. When I asked you why you chose to interview with us, and you responded that you chose exclusively on the basis of the number of syllables in a firm’s name, and since we had fourteen, we made it to your list – but just barely. On my flight home that night, however, I realized that you had miscounted. We only have thirteen syllables. Errors like that are not well-tolerated at the firm.

2. When I asked you what kind of law you were most interested in, and you responded “Lobster,” and then when I expressed confusion, you answered that you thought I’d asked what kind of *claw* you were most interested in, not law.

3. When I asked you to explain your Torts grade, and you pretended you no longer spoke English.

4. When I asked you what you had enjoyed the most about your experience working in the potato chip factory, and you said “the day my co-worker’s arm got sliced off by the automatic slicer,” because that was the day you got an extra ten-minute break while they cleaned it up. I did not believe your story until later that evening, when I purchased a bag of potato chips and found an arm inside.

5. When I asked you if you were on law review, and you said no.

The answers you gave to those questions unfortunately have led us to the unfortunate decision that we will be unable to offer you a callback this interview season. However, with your impressive credentials and bright green teeth, I am certain that you will find success in the rest of the interviewing process, and in all of your future pursuits.

With deep and genuine sorrow and unfortunance,
Interviewer Dude
HLS 1L TJ writes at Undeniable Dilemma about taking on some extracurricular activities:

"Naturally, I'm kinda nervous about devoting enough time [to] class work... if 'enough' is actually attainable. But then again, not that nervous. These are the reasons I came to law school. It'd be terrible for me to forego such pursuits out of fear of getting behind a few days of reading. I think."

I'm just linking because I think he's totally got the right idea. The people I know who don't so much like it here tend to be the ones who don't do all that much outside of class. Just to be around people, to be doing things that aren't about the classes, to be spending time in places other than the library, to have pursuits that don't involve a final exam, to fill days with things other than the cases in your casebooks... I think one of the best things about being a student -- anywhere, studying anything -- is that there are these extracurricular activities, and organized ways to get involved in doing stuff. Does anyone leave school wishing they'd read more? Of course do work. But of course do other stuff too. I'm repeating myself from past posts. But just wanted to link to TJ for another voice on the matter.
I know I'm just turning a non-issue into another post for no good reason, but Katie Biber over at Ex Parte, the HLS Federalist Society blog, responds to my response to Patrick from Ex Parte's comment about my comment re: the HLS GOP sponsoring the blood drive. She writes:

"Actually, the HLS GOP blood drive is not like the Environmental Law Society sponsoring a conference on diversity. It's like the Environmental Law Society, BLSA, the Squash Club, or the Ballroom Dancing Society adopting a family for Thanksgiving or volunteering at a soup kitchen. What creates the ridiculous impression that conservatives don't "have a lot to do with" community service? ... I am frustrated when other people consistently express surprise at the generosity and community spirit shown by our campus conservative and libertarian groups."

I think Katie is great, and, like I said, this is really a non-issue I'm writing about for lack of anything else to say -- but I don't know that I see her smaller point (I'll get to her larger point in a moment). I don't see her examples -- The Squash Club volunteering at a soup kitchen, or the Ballroom Dancing Society adopting a family for Thanksgiving -- as substantially different from my example of the Environmental Law Society sponsoring a conference on diversity. If people wanted to volunteer at a soup kitchen, they wouldn't join the squash club to do it. Not that there's anything wrong with these organizations doing whatever they want to do -- which is why it's a non-issue. It's fine that the GOP sponsored a blood drive. I just thought it was funny. And (here's the larger point) it's not I think conservatives are anti-community service or generosity. Heck, if anything, the conservative social solution -- people (and private charities) helping people -- fits that model more than the liberal social solution -- government helping people. Gross generalizations, I know. But I say it to show I don't at all think that being a conservative makes someone less inclined to have community spirit. I just didn't realize that the collection of blood was on the conservative agenda. It's not a political position -- I think we all support the concept of blood drives, regardless of political affiliation. Hence it surprised me to see a politically-aligned group sponsoring it. That's all I meant. Really.

Friday, October 17, 2003

The Red Sox didn't get a callback this week. The Yankees, baseball's equivalent of the editor-in-chief of the Law Review, got it instead. The Marlins, who clerked for a Supreme Court justice six years ago, but then turned to drugs and inferior outlines for years until making a surprise comeback and winning the Ames Competition this year, will battle the Yankees for the ultimate prize: an offer from Wachtell. The Cubs will work at a small firm in Raleigh. The A's, Twins, Braves, and Cardinals are doing public interest work. The Mets collect the trash. The Tigers are floating in a river somewhere. Red Sox manager Grady Little is Robert Bork: so close to the pinnacle but ultimately falling short. Marlins manager Jack McKeon is John Paul Stevens: really, really old. Don Zimmer is George W. Bush: not so bright. The fan who caught the ball in Wrigley Field that prevented Moises Alou from catching it and getting the Cubs to the World Series is Gray Davis. Pedro Martinez is Howard Dean: strong for a while, but fading in the home stretch. Aaron Boone is Wesley Clark: from out of nowhere... and surely to be eclipsed once again as soon as Jason Giambi hits a gazillion home runs in the World Series. Jeff Weaver is Joe Lieberman: is he still around? The Fox announcers said that Weaver hadn't even warmed up all series. Isn't that sad? I feel bad for Jeff Weaver. Even though he's earning millions of dollars and will probably end up with a World Series ring.
There goes the other half of the Cubs-Red Sox World Series. Yankees-Marlins? Eh.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I'm done with my on-campus interviews. Time to launder my dress shirt. Kidding. Well, sort of. If there's one good thing about interviews, it's that I now have a "lucky interview tie," a "lucky interview shirt," and "lucky interview socks." Unfortunately, they're the same as my "unlucky interview tie," "unlucky interview shirt," and "unlucky interview socks." Given that each interview is only 20 minutes long, and I change into and out of my suit and dress shirt and shoes and all that stuff pretty closely before and after each interview (finally making use of my locker!), I've probably worn the stuff for only about the equivalent of a day or two in the whole three-week process. This, in my mind, more than justifies that I've only washed the shirt twice, and tried to alternate two pairs of socks, handwashing them in the sink on their "off days." And one pair of boxers. No, I'm kidding on that last one. Really, I swear. Of course ties hold up pretty well -- and once I found that one was working, I didn't bother alternating. Today I forgot my "interview watch" for the first time though. My "expensive" $60 metal Swatch (I save it for "special" occasions) instead of the free (literally, it was free) watch I got when I bought a polo shirt a few years ago (not actually a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt of course -- again, too expensive for me and my $6 "dress" belt).

I learned something today that completely hadn't crossed my mind at all -- first some background: people with multiple callback offers usually choose one firm through which to book their travel arrangements, and then that firm gets reimbursed from the other firms. So each firm has a hotel it tends to book people in, I guess. So some people with more than one callback apparently try to find out the hotels each firm uses and they pick which firm to book through based on the hotel. Which I guess makes sense. But completely hadn't crossed my mind at all. Not that it really matters all that much -- no firm is putting people up in a shack on the side of the highway. At least I don't think so. Maybe the firms that aren't Vault top-50. I'm kidding. I don't know what the Vault rankings mean, by the way. I see no methodology, no explanation -- and all the firm descriptions read like our course guide -- this firm is "laid-back" but "intense," "nice people" who "scream a lot," "interesting" work that is sometimes "boring," "nice food" if you like "bad food," "no weekends," except "on Saturdays and Sundays."
Patrick Lewis over at Ex Parte, the HLS Federalist Society weblog, writes, of a post of mine from a couple of weeks ago:

"Jeremy Blachman wonders why HLS GOP sponsored the law school blood drive. Since we know it isn't possible for Republicans to believe in good will toward men or charitable activities, the reason must be that Republicans are blood sucking vampires."

Re-reading my post, I admit it wasn't clear what exactly I was implying -- but really the observation I wanted to make was why *any* political-minded organization -- right, left, or whatever direction anyone else is -- would be sponsoring the Blood Drive. Like if the Environmental Law Society sponsored a conference on diversity. It's not a *bad* thing of course; it just doesn't seem to have a heck of a lot to do with what they do. But I suppose it could have been read in a bad way, so I've got no problem with the comment -- just thought I'd clarify.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

A NY Times article about people who buy new techno-gadgets and end up throwing them into a closet never to be seen again, here. I don't own any of the gadgets they mention in the article, except for the CD burner that came with my computer. I'm sort of a technophobe. I don't need a webcam, a GPS device, or a universal remote control. But the article's interesting anyway.
"Sorry to keep you waiting. Have a seat. How's interviewing going?"

"Pretty rough. No one seems to like me."

"Oh. Maybe this one will be different."

"Probably not."

"So, why did you choose to interview with this firm?"

"I knew I wanted to work in this particular city, or at least one of the cities near it, and I talked to a lot of people, and no one had anything bad to say about you."

"Great. Do you have any idea what kind of law you want to practice?"

"Yes. [X]."

"We don't do that here."

"But it says on your website--"

"We don't do that."


"I was looking at your resume--"

"Uh oh."

"--and I noticed you do a bunch of volunteer work. That's great. Must be hard to balance with the law school workload."

"Not really. I don't really do all that much. I didn't lie or anything, but maybe kind of exaggerated on the resume."

"Oh. Then tell me about what you did last summer."

"I didn't do all that much."

"No law firm job?"

"Couldn't get one. Tried really hard. No one would hire me."

"Any idea why?"

"Probably they called my references."

"Oh. Do you have a copy of those?"


"And a transcript?"

"Yeah. But before you look at that, I just want to let you know I'm really not as stupid as it seems."

"Is that right?"

"All of my professors misgraded my exams. Every grade on there should be higher. I should also be on law review but they misplaced my competition. And actually I'd be a multi-millionaire but I chose the wrong lottery numbers."

"Have you got a writing sample?"

"In English?"

"Yes, if you've got one."

"No, not in English."

"What language is it in?"

"I'm not sure. The website I got it from didn't say."

"Oh. Any questions about the firm."


"Excellent. Nice to meet you. We'll let you know."


Tuesday, October 14, 2003

In one of my classes, we're on "panel" one day during the semester. Which means that's the day we get called on, and all the rest of the days we're free to just listen. My day is tomorrow. Today, one of the four people on panel wasn't there. I have no idea if there were consequences. Regardless, this panel system, while nice on every day besides the one you're on panel, seems sort of ineffective in getting people to actively do the reading each day and prepare for class. But I guess in a class of over 150 students, what else can they do. Time to read.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Still interviews. There's two main sites for interviews here, The Charles Hotel, and The Inn At Harvard. All of mine have been at the Charles. Until today. When I had one at the Inn. You might be thinking that would make for an exciting change of pace. It didn't.

Still playoffs. Don Zimmer bobblehead dolls should be tomorrow's promotion. Ha. Seriously, it's not like I think Pedro Martinez is a real nice guy, but it was pretty silly for Mr. Zimmer to be running out of the dugout trying to fight him. Not that I think he deserved to be thrown to the ground, but he kind of brought it upon himself. Silly man. Lucky man, in that he didn't get himself really injured.

It's amazing how much time one can waste clicking around on Friendster trying to see if anyone you still keep in touch with keeps in touch with anyone who keeps in touch with anyone who you maybe wish you'd kept in touch with or at least are curious to see if they have a recent photo up. I'm barely on Friendster -- 3 friends have separately "invited" me, and so I signed up and accepted their invites, but it's just those three. I don't really see the complete point of it. But I don't want to let the whole thing pass me by. Kind of like why I vote. Not really. That's a bad and borderline nonsensical metaphor. Sorry.

Ten Places Law Firms Do Not Conduct Interviews

1. Janitor's Closet
2. Inside big vat in which cafeteria cooks soup
3. In the Jewish students association's Sukkah
4. Piano practice room while piano player is practicing
5. Medical center exam room #3
6. Large Pothole on Massachusetts Avenue
7. Inside big electron-spewing laser thing in Science Center
8. Right near big electron-spewing laser thing in Science Center, while it's on and emitting all sorts of nasty stuff
9. On sloped roof of a tall building
10. The second stall from the left

Sunday, October 12, 2003

I saw "School of Rock" yesterday, the Jack Black movie about teaching a bunch of kids to be rock stars. I give it an 82 out of 100 on another fairly random scale that means very little to anyone who doesn't live inside my head. It was entertaining and mostly amusing; the negatives were that the plot was wholly unbelievable and required the viewer to suspend all logic of how schools operate and how people really behave; and also that all of the characters besides Jack Black's (and even his, to a degree) were one-dimensional stereotypes. It could have been much much worse; Jack Black did a nice job, they cast the kids well, the actors in the one-dimensional roles did as much as they could... but I think it also could have been considerably better had they reined in the situations that required the most leaps of faith and kept things feeling a little more real... then it possibly could have had a point, or some broader meaning, instead of just being a relatively entertaining 108 minutes without much depth. I don't particularly like Jack Black or think he's all that special, and still liked the movie -- so that's a good thing I guess. The concept's strong -- this movie written by Albert Brooks could have been a real gem; as it is, like I said, it's not bad, and it is often laugh-worthy... but it wasn't all that it could have been. Just my opinion. Reviewers seem to be loving this, so what do I know.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Someone found this site through a yahoo search for "how to kill your super obese husband." Wow.
The polished version of the ramblings below.

"Vanishing Act"

“I could tolerate the cafeteria last year; but this year… I don’t know what happened.” One of my friends said something like that over dinner (not in the cafeteria, thankfully) a few nights ago. And while it would give me a great excuse to write about the Hark and how I’d rather Dean Kagan’s “build a new shiny bathroom” funds had gone to “get some better food,” that’s not what it made me think about. What happened to my cafeteria-hatin’ friend, to me, and to our 550-odd classmates is that we became 2Ls. And being a 2L, compared with being a 1L, just isn’t the same.

There are the obvious technical differences: we know where all the buildings are and the shortcuts for getting there, we know how to find old outlines, we know that until this year the coffee wasn’t always free and that there weren’t always tampons in the women’s bathrooms (actually, I don’t really know that firsthand – but I take everyone’s word for it). We know that "mandatory meetings" aren’t really mandatory and that skimming that last chapter of reading doesn’t make you a bad person. We’ve lost that feeling that sometimes hit in the back of the head that told us perhaps we ought to be outlining, forming a study group, briefing cases, stalking professors at their office hours, buying study guides, highlighting with more colors (side note: one firm I interviewed with gave out an awesomely-cool erasable highlighter. One side is pink, the other side is white – when you rub the white side over the pink you’ve used, it vanishes. This is almost as revolutionary as the combination tampon-highlighter they’ll be giving out in the women’s bathrooms come exam time. Twenty minutes of amazement in the library before I could actually bring myself to stop erasing my highlights, leave the stuff highlighted, and turn the page. I’ve had the thing for twenty-four hours and it’s already out of ink. I highlighted my entire TV Guide.) or (is this really still the same sentence?) calling our friends at other law schools to get them to search for our visiting professors’ old exams. Not that we did any of that stuff. But at least we wondered if we ought to be. This year, no more. I know people who haven’t opened their books yet – who haven’t bought their books yet. I know people not on the seating chart. I know people who don’t remember what classes they’re in.

But more than that, there’s an intensity change between 1L year and 2L year. Last year, everything felt important, like it had stakes, like it had meaning, like it was ‘real.’ “I’ve got to do a journal,” “I’ve got to send out resumes,” “I’ve got to go to this meeting,” “I’ve got to work on my memo,” “I’ve got to brush my teeth twice a day.” It was easy to care about stuff, because everyone cared, and because the institutional culture told us to care. This year, it’s harder. We know that missing a meeting isn’t criminal; that you can be on the “executive board” of XYZ club basically just by showing up, that the free food opportunities aren’t going anywhere. Everyone passes his classes. Everyone gets a job. Everyone survives. There’s not that “I could fall off this cliff” feeling of danger. Our professors aren’t white tigers in a Vegas stage show. And while that’s comforting and stress-un-inducing, it does make 2L life a little less interesting.

And so we’ve lost the intensity – and at the same time, in some ways we’ve lost our community. Our section, the same people in every class, the same experiences-in-common to talk about over crappy food at the cafeteria. We’ve all made friends, but it’s easier for days to elapse without seeing them, harder to find time-in-common, easier to go to class, go home, and check out. Of course, part of this is the interviews. They take up time, they take up energy, they take our pure souls and turn them into stone. In some ways, the interviews have been cool though, because they’ve helped to restore that missing sense of community, just a little bit. [this section will look familiar to people who read what I wrote yesterday... but it's funny, so I'm using it again. Ha!] I pass you in a suit, we share a mutual glance. “I know exactly what you’re doing.” In fact, there are people – some I know, some I don't – who've become – maybe just in my own head – sort of my “interview comrades,” apparently with the same class schedule as me (so that our interviews are at the same times) and with similar firm choices. I see them in the hospitality suites (“you again?”), in the hallways knocking, coming as I'm going, going as I'm coming, coming as I'm coming, and going as I'm going. There's glasses dude, scoop neck shirt girl, and green resume folder man, just to name a few. Parts-hair-on-the-left guy, pretty earrings girl, four-fingered fellow, needs-some-Botox lady, always-looks-like-he-has-to-pee man, is-she-pregnant? woman, needs-a-shave dude, needs-a-shave ?girl?, looks-like-my-aunt guy, smells-like-peanut-butter madam, one-shoe-untied man, flabby-elbows girl, spinach-teeth guy, walks-like-a-robot lady, and picks-up-crumbs-from-the-floor-and-eats-them dude. Just to name a few more.

But once interviews are done, this community too will vanish. Like the 2Ls from the cafeteria. And like the pink highlighting, once I use the special magic side of the highlighter that makes it all disappear. I really like that highlighter. I hope I get a callback.
I'm working on an idea here that I hope to turn into something coherent enough for 600 words in The Harvard Law Record next week. The differences between being a 1L and being a 2L. At this point in the year, only just over a month in, a lot of the difference is shaped by interviews, I think... but that's still relevant.

The biggest plus about 2L year so far is possibly the added experience and perspective -- doing the reading takes less time, skimming the reading isn't a calamity, no back-of-the-head feeling that perhaps I ought to be outlining, in a study group, briefing cases, buying study guides, stalking professors at office hours, etc., no noticeable competition between classmates (not that I really noticed all that much last year), and having last year figured out what activities I liked and didn't as much like being part of, there's more time spent on things for a reason instead of just because everyone else is doing them. Sort of.

But the flipside of the positives of being a 2L are the negatives -- the lack of urgency and importance to everything I'm doing... I know the world will not collapse if I were to skip a class or skip a reading, or say something dumb if I'm called on; even "mandatory" meetings of anything don't feel mandatory, getting to higher levels of responsibility in some extracurriculars has illustrated to me that a lot of the activities that seemed "real" as a 1L are really just held together by threads of 2Ls and 3Ls -- not that they aren't "real" but that there's not as much of a framework and an infrastructure and as many people involved as there might have seemed. That point isn't real clear except in my head, I know. So nothing feels as important, and it's easy to sort of float through the week not having to care about enough or having to invest oneself in all that much. Which is a little sad and frustrating.

The other big thing that's mostly a relative negative of being a 2L is the somewhat weaker sense of community, of the built-in social network of having a section, of the same people in every class, of lots of opportunities to interact with people. It's easier as a 2L to go to class and go home and talk to nobody. Or not that it's easier to do that, but that it's harder to avoid doing that, harder to encounter people for more than a passing hello, harder to find time in common, easier to avoid seeing people. Which is countered to some degree by meeting new people in 2L classes and in activities, and meeting 1Ls and 3Ls -- though 1Ls are meeting other 1Ls and don't need to meet 2Ls and 3Ls... and part of this is interviews taking people's time and energy... but it does kind of feel like as a 2L there's less of a community feeling and more effort needs to be taken to do stuff. Countered by extracurriculars that we're actually involved in taking more time because we have positions of more involvement -- so I feel like I see lots of people all the time, but a lot of it is sort of half-social half-purposeful extracurricular oriented, so it's not quite the same as just hanging out with someone.

Apologies that this is mostly just unstructured rambling thoughts masquerading as something with a point. Hopefully by tonight, above this you'll find my 600-word masterpiece of a newspaper column built somehow around this topic (because I can't write about interviews AGAIN). For now you get the brainstorming session.
Bought a copy of the soundtrack to Avenue Q, the Broadway show that loyal readers will recall I wanted to see over the summer but the "cheap tickets" they lottery off before each show are really limited and I ended up deciding not to pay $91.25 for two hours of entertainment. Anyway, the soundtrack, which, if you want to pay $2.50 less than I did at Tower Records, but pay for shipping instead and wait a bunch of days to get it, can be found on Amazon here.

I give the soundtrack 3 stars out of 4, on a random scale I'm just inventing right now that means nothing. The songs are nicely melodic for current Broadway -- actually hummable in a bunch of cases, which is nice. Most are uptempo trying to be funny, and some even succeed. In a bunch of cases, the titles / concepts are pretty funny and executed nicely -- "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist," "Schadenfreude," "I Wish I Could Go Back To College" -- and in bunch of cases the titles / concepts are pretty funny but it's one joke and executed predictably without much oomph -- "The Internet Is For Porn," "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today," "You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)," "My Girlfriend, Who Lives In Canada." The rest of the songs are a mix of not-that-funny plot filler ("The Money Song"), and pretty solid ballads / "meaning" songs ("There's A Fine, Fine Line," "Purpose," "Mix Tape"). My favorite song on the CD is possibly "What Do You Do With a B.A. in English," except it's too short, and so it probably means they ran out of funny stuff to say.

So I like overall. Recommended if after reading enough of my weblog you think that if I like something you probably will too. :)

Friday, October 10, 2003

This straddles the line between real and funny. I'm not exactly sure what I'm trying to accomplish here. Basically, I decided to try and write a song about interviewing. But it didn't really come out funny. It's not serious though. And it's not profound, or sarcastic, or insightful, or witty. It just is. It has a melody too, but that's harder to post. I dunno. It's just somewhere in that middle ground. Like reality TV.

I can sing a love song, dance a dance
Make you like me if you give me a chance
I can tell you stories, make you smile
I can show you how I'd be at trial

I can write a memo, work all night
Search through papers dark till light
I can forgo sleep for work no play
Talk about what's on my resume

Twenty minutes to show you
Twenty minutes to know you
Twenty minutes to be
Something making you see
That you want to know more

Twenty minutes to floor you
Or twenty minutes to bore you
Twenty minutes to spend
Until the time has to end
And I walk out the door

I can share my passion, let you see
The gears that turn deep inside me
Or I can sit there airtight-lipped
As you just look at my transcript

Twenty minutes to show you
Twenty minutes to know you
Twenty minutes to be
Something making you see
That you want to know more

Twenty minutes to wow you
So twenty minutes from now you
Put my name on a list
And then try to insist
Then I come and see more.


Thursday, October 09, 2003

Three weeks is too long for interviewing. Back and forth, from one firm to another, twenty-minute slots that with the dressing up and the walk to-and-from become more like an hour, and with the sitting by the phone praying for it to ring become more like twenty-four or forty-eight hours. Or seventy-two if there's a weekend. There are people -- some I know, some I don't -- who've become my "interview comrades," apparently with the same class schedule as me (so that our interviews are at the same times) and similar firm choices. I see them in the hospitality suites ("you again?"), in the hallways knocking, coming as I'm going, going as I'm coming, coming as I'm coming, and going as I'm going. There's glasses dude, scoop neck shirt girl, and green resume folder man, just to name a few*. And there are some friends I haven't seen in two weeks because they're interviewing for other firms, at other times, and the only mutual free time we'd have would be Sunday morning at six. There's the "you're in a suit / I'm not" pass-you-on-campus etiquette, which is to smile and wish good luck. There's the "both in a suit" etiquette of asking where each other is interviewing, even though we don't really care. There's the "neither in a suit" most-common question: "No interviews today?" And the inevitable answer, "No, they're later tonight. I have nine today." But back to my thesis statement. Three weeks is too long. The first couple of days were new and interesting, but quickly it got pretty routine and tiresome. By the beginning of week two it was old hat, and now at the end of week two, I'm really ready for it to be done. It's nothing against the firms; it's the process. These interviews are all the same, not that interesting, and are making life kind of irritating. Everyone's always busy, no one has time to do social stuff, meals are afterthoughts, I have to worry that I'm going to spill something on my expensive suit, and my feet don't like my dress shoes. I'm not complaining, because of course I recognize how lucky I am to be at a school where all these people potentially want me to work for them, or at least are open to taking twenty minutes to consider the idea -- but I'd rather be run ragged in a 3-day 25-interview marathon than have it spread out over all this time. If I was reforming the system? We'd do a Wacky Wacky Weekend: no classes Friday; all firms fly in and we do interview slots morning until night on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We get everyone scheduled in, three days and we're done. Results in 48 hours, callbacks the following week, let's get this process over with. And we could get back to our normal happy lives that don't involve washing our clothes.

*Just to name a few more: parts-hair-on-the-left guy, pretty earrings girl, four-fingered fellow, needs-some-Botox lady, always-looks-like-he-has-to-pee man, is-she-pregnant? woman, needs-a-shave dude, needs-a-shave ?girl?, looks-like-my-aunt guy, smells-like-peanut-butter madam, one-shoe-untied man, flabby-elbows girl, spinach-teeth guy, walks-like-a-robot lady, and picks-up-crumbs-from-the-floor-and-eats-them dude.