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 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.