My name is Self-Appointed Expert, and this is my blog. It is part memoir, mostly fiction, and above all just trying to be funny. Some of is based on stuff that happened to me, some is based on stuff that happened to people I know, and a good deal is just entirely made up. So, if you find yourself offended, just remember - it's a joke. When you give me that look, it's a joke. Consider it my homage to the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, A Million Little Pieces, John Hodgman, and Christopher Guest.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

They Call Me Ms. Personality...Because I have a J.D.: Law School Recruiting, Part I - The On-Campus Interview

The law school recruitment process is a well-oiled machine. Each fall, (literally) thousands of employers descend onto campus and take up temporary lodging in the Charles and/or Inn at Harvard Hotels. The bigger firms get multiple suites: between 1-6 bedrooms where the interviews actually take place (awkwardly, at the foot of the interviewer's bed), a room for bags, and room/suite used for "hospitality" receptions (i.e., free food, logo-encrested toys, and forced conversation).

2Ls fresh out of their first summer law job arrive on campus in the fall and make bids (up to 30) for the law firms of their choice. Generally speaking, they have no idea what each firm does, whether they're any good at it, and whether they (the student) would like to have anything to do with that type of work. So, the students research - reading online profiles, firm websites, vault reports; meeting with career advisors and headhunters; gossiping with recruiters from other firms; and generally relying on the only slightly better informed advice of their elders (the oh-so-wise 3L's, who have between 6-14 more weeks of wining and dining to inform their opinions on which firms are which). After the bids go in, a lottery is run, and preliminary 20 minute interviews are matched up between student preference and firm interview slot availability. Each student gets assigned between 15-25. Then, the real craziness begins.

Over the next three weeks, students periodically show up to class in suits and sneakers, leaving 5, 10, 30 minutes early (or arriving in equal time allotments late), rushing to and from the two major hotels where interviews take place (while trying to keep track of which hotel you're supposed to be at what time; as each is a 7-10 minute walk away from campus and each other), desperately clutching their leather bound folders (which ostensibly contain shorthand notes reminding the student which firm they're interviewing with - but more typically are used to give yourself something to do with your hands during the interview), and (for the women) trying not to lose a heel in the cobblestoned 500-yard dash between school/home and the interview spot.

Having arrived successfully to the right hotel with all shoe components in tact, the student walks to the elevator, finds the room associated with their firm, greets the 3-4 other students they've seen interviewing at all the same firms they've been seeing all week before, pauses in the hospitality suite (ignores all the "hospitality"), and then goes to wait outside her indiviudal interview room. She generally has between 15 and negative 3 minutes to burn until her interview time.

On cue, the line of dark-suited law students in the hallway note on their watches that the interview time has arrived, knock on the door of their duly-assigned rooms, and then, in unison, take a step back to await a response. (Prompting non-lawschool-recruiting-associated hotel guests to inquire whether the FBI is doing some sort of investigation on their floor.) The previous interview ends a few minutes later; the door opens; the new interviewee greets the prior interviewee; shakes the hand of the interviewer, and then proceeds inside the room.

The next 20 minutes are a blur: the law student tries to articulate her strengths and/or explain away her weaknesses while still allowing time for the interviewer to talk long enough to make them feel as important as they think they are. (Time increases with interviewer seniority.) In the end, however, the 20 minute conversation is really just a big dog and pony show designed to cover the fact that all the interviewer wants to know is the interviewee's GPA - which he will discover for the first time when the interviewee inevitably turns over a copy of her transcript at the end of her 20 minute slot. (Employers aren't allowed to see transcripts before the preliminary interview: the idea is that the school doesn't want employers to "screen out" accomplished but ill-graded candidates before they see them. The result is that they get screened out after getting seen.)

Within the next few hours (or up to two weeks, for the really snooty firms), successful interviewees will get a phone call inviting them to either (1) fly out to the firm's home office for a call-back interview or (2) attend an expenses-paid dinner that night at a swanky Boston restaurant (with the call-back call to come fashionably later). Unsucessful interviewees will wait for days, weeks, or indeterminately (I still haven't heard back from a dude who interviewed me on Oct 12, 2005) for a letter informing them that despite all their impressive credentials and the near certainty they will someday be appointed to the Supreme Court, the firm regrettably cannot offer them a subsequent interview. These letters are called "dings," as in what it sounds like when someone spits on you. And you're made of metal.

To be continued.


Blogger Anna said...

I'd retain you any time.

9:38 AM


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