ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

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270910
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ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby 270910 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:04 pm

Inspired by the thread on cover letters, I thought it might be helpful to talk about things that will make you stand out from the herd in correspondence with firms, interviews, and callbacks. I realize that much of this will be common sense or harped on in various publications, but it might be worthy of some focus.

Obviously there are many things out of our control - most notably our academic pedigree. But I think there is still a lot of room for spin, particularly within the class of firms where academic credentials are "good enough" but not everyone with those creds will be landing every job.

Obviously I haven't been through OCI, so some of this could be off-base. But this is the basis of my strategy, and is founded on my 1L job hunt + cold reading + conversations with attorneys, so it shouldn't be a total stab in the dark.

Here is my current thinking:

Where appropriate (since trying to steer a question about the weather into a discussion of your passion for doc review may back fire) it is important to convey to the employer enthusiasm (about your peers, about your law school experience, about the practice of law, about the practice areas of strength at the firm, about law firm work, about the location of the firm, etc). Enthusiasm is hard to express if you're ignorant, so I think it will 'sweep up' a lot of the background research that is expected of you. It seems to me it will be more convincing to say "I've always had an interest in telecom expansion; your practice area in telecom regulation sounds really interesting - are associates very involved with that practice?" than to just drop it as a non-sequitur "oh hey I hear you do telecom stuff cool I guess."

Beyond enthusiasm, careful research about the firm is important. Walking into an interview (or writing a letter) you should know how many attorneys work at that office, and what the breakdown is between partners/associates and various practice areas (all avail. on the NALP directory). This should help you contextualize your inquiries. It can range from the particular ("Oh, I saw you had a wealth management practice, but it seems very small - do associates ever have a chance to work there?") to the broad (if a firm touts its litigation practice but there aren't any litigators in the office you are bidding on, you'll step in it if you talk about how much courtroom battling you plan to do).

In addition, I think it's important to convey what you can do for the employer. Especially with big firms and OCI there's an obvious emphasis on fit and desire, but since everyone will look fungible past a certain point really focusing on how you are more meticulous / more inexhaustible / taller / whatever than the average rising 2L would be important. It would be harder to do outside of a cover letter, but I think just keeping in the back of your mind that you are also trying to convince the firm that you would make a good and profitable associate will speak volumes.

As far as questions, I think intelligent questions about the business of law will make you look thoughtful, particularly in contrast to the masses of law students who probably will just be figuring out what a law firm is and why they want to practice there. It's one thing to say "I want to work in a law firm." Everyone will. But if you demonstrate that you've really thought about it with questions about what it will be like, it makes you look savy and should make enthusiasm seem much more authentic. "How exactly are assignments distributed to first year associates" or "do cases/clients tend to be staffed leanly (i.e. an associate working with a partner) or with lager groups of attorneys?" or "do young associates have opportunities to interact with clients?" it just shows you're thinking about the law firm as a service industry and about your role doing work on behalf of clients, at the clients bequest.

Those are some of my preliminary thoughts. I am happy to have them contradicted by any with more experience, and hope others might have some suggestions for approaching recruiting with a mindset and attitude that might make the difference. I know a lot of people who got exactly 1 offer last year, so it will definitely pay to try and fall on the happy / over-compensated side of that line!

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BLi
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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby BLi » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:05 pm

as opposed to "ITT: we discuss things that will get you fired", AKA "the BP thread"

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somewhatwayward
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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby somewhatwayward » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:19 pm

"Oh, I saw you had a wealth management practice, but it seems very small - do associates ever have a chance to work there?"


i think maybe you'd want to cut out the 'very small' part and add in something positive about the wealth management practice (or whatever). 'very small' is generally not associated with good things (except electronics).

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby rando » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:30 pm

disco_barred wrote:In addition, I think it's important to convey what you can do for the employer. Especially with big firms and OCI there's an obvious emphasis on fit and desire, but since everyone will look fungible past a certain point really focusing on how you are more meticulous / more inexhaustible / taller / whatever than the average rising 2L would be important. It would be harder to do outside of a cover letter, but I think just keeping in the back of your mind that you are also trying to convince the firm that you would make a good and profitable associate will speak volumes.



I think your mindset is pretty spot on. But I wouldn't be too presumptuous, go too far, with the above line of thinking. Law firms know what every incoming associate is going to be doing for them and how it will make them money. A lot of running jokes around the office seemed to center on some of the interviewees who came off snarky or pretentious by acting like they actually had something to offer the firm that the next guy in your class doesn't. In a sense, SA's and incoming associates are completely fungible. Once you get your foot in the door, you aren't necessarily trying to stand out as fit in.

That being said, the points you make about focusing on traits that are important to lawyers are good. Being meticulous, good writing ability, easy to talk to, focusing on service/clients etc.

Your questions are pretty solid too.
I have found that some other good questions are How much practice groups interact? (e.g. M&A integrating tax, IP, employee benefits etc.); How much different offices of the same firm interact (if applicable)? What are some of the main clients of the firm (local, regional, national, international)? How do associates pick/join groups and get work?

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby 270910 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:34 pm

rando wrote:But I wouldn't be too presumptuous, go too far, with the above line of thinking. Law firms know what every incoming associate is going to be doing for them and how it will make them money. A lot of running jokes around the office seemed to center on some of the interviewees who came off snarky or pretentious by acting like they actually had something to offer the firm that the next guy in your class doesn't. In a sense, SA's and incoming associates are completely fungible. Once you get your foot in the door, you aren't necessarily trying to stand out as fit in.


That's good to hear. It's definitely a balancing act, and I'm sure being sycophantic or coming across to cocksure is probably much worse than being bland. I've heard that a big turn off is arrogance, especially from candidates who feel (as a result of school, grades, or delusions) that they will have choices.

Thanks for the other suggested questions, too. They look like they'd be good conversation starters. One question: I'm interested in what clients firms have, and I know some of them will make press releases or websites. But that's usually just a few, and I'm guessing there's no other way to dig deeper on that from public sources, right? i.e. I want to make sure it's not one of the dreaded "questions that could have been answered by 5 minutes on the web".

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby SamSeaborn2016 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:36 pm

disco_barred wrote:In addition, I think it's important to convey what you can do for the employer. Especially with big firms and OCI there's an obvious emphasis on fit and desire, but since everyone will look fungible past a certain point really focusing on how you are more meticulous / more inexhaustible / taller / whatever than the average rising 2L would be important. It would be harder to do outside of a cover letter, but I think just keeping in the back of your mind that you are also trying to convince the firm that you would make a good and profitable associate will speak volumes.


:lol: You should hire me because I can actually reach the printer paper up in the cabinet.


Seriously, though. Solid advice. :D

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby rando » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:39 pm

As far as what clients the firms have . . .

You should definitely look at the website and most firms will tout their big ones. I used this to my advantage actually.

"I see that you just represented Microsoft in a Trademark dispute. I am interested in IP, what kind of other clients do you have? What do younger associates generally get to work on?"

It shows that you have done your homework, that you know not every client is gargantuan, and that you realize that young associates are often not allowed to work for certain clients (that is another can of worms that I stayed away from).

270910
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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby 270910 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:51 pm

rando wrote:As far as what clients the firms have . . .

You should definitely look at the website and most firms will tout their big ones. I used this to my advantage actually.

"I see that you just represented Microsoft in a Trademark dispute. I am interested in IP, what kind of other clients do you have? What do younger associates generally get to work on?"

It shows that you have done your homework, that you know not every client is gargantuan, and that you realize that young associates are often not allowed to work for certain clients (that is another can of worms that I stayed away from).


Gold. That's a solid way to ask the question. Exactly the kind of thing I probably wouldn't have come up with just trying to sort this out on my own; thanks for the advice!

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bk1
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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby bk1 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:59 pm

I only read the title and not the posts, but two things came to mind:

a nice rack.

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deneuve39
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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby deneuve39 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:09 pm

Another good thing to ask about is the interviewers' own experience at the firm (because people love to talk about themselves). For instance, you could ask them why they chose to come to the firm, what they like the most about it, why they chose their particular practice group, what the most interesting deal/case they've ever worked on is, etc.
Also, asking when people pick a specific practice group is good, too, depending on whether or not the firm requires you to pick one coming straight in or not (this is a good thing to research beforehand, as firms have very different ways of doing rotations).

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby 270910 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:12 pm

amyLAchemist wrote: isn't this common sense and/or questions you would naturally develop through research?


disco_barred, in the second sentence of the OP, wrote:I realize that much of this will be common sense or harped on in various publications


:lol:

In all seriousness, I think you're exactly correct. At this point I'm just trying to dot Is and cross Ts. Based on conversations with higher ups, things are often lacking in candidates even though they seem "obvious."

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby miamiman » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:15 pm

Disco, if after all your pre-planning, planning, and execution, you still fail to land a SA, there is no hope for any of us.

you're my legal employment yardstick.

hth.

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:09 pm

miamiman wrote:Disco, if after all your pre-planning, planning, and execution, you still fail to land a SA, there is no hope for any of us.

you're my legal employment yardstick.

hth.


I think you need your own yardstick. Plenty of people with just as much preparation, execution and TLS posting have failed to get SA positions.

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bk1
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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby bk1 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think you need your own yardstick. Plenty of people with just as much preparation, execution and TLS posting have failed to get SA positions.


Why so anonymous?

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby sundevil77 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:24 pm

I had a professionsal development professor whom I really enjoyed. His big thing was to always bring the interview/question back to showing the interviewer "I am what you need."

This all depends on your synchronizing your message/responsed based on your past actions, the firm's present needs, and your future contributions.

I know this is kind of basic, general stuff not necessarily specific to legal hiring, but that phrase "I am what you need" has always stuck with me.

P.S.- I like the thread

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby shmoo597 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:37 pm

Very much like/appreciate this thread.

Does anyone know of a good list of common/uncommon/very strange interview questions floating around?

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Chuch
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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby Chuch » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:46 pm

going to a good school and getting good grades, imo

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby seespotrun » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:58 pm

Chuch wrote:going to a good school and getting good grades, imo

An awful sense of humor seemed to work for this ^^ guy.

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby deneuve39 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:17 pm

shmoo597 wrote:Very much like/appreciate this thread.

Does anyone know of a good list of common/uncommon/very strange interview questions floating around?


There was an interviewing thread, but not a lot of people who had actually gone through 2L interviewing posted on it. I'm a rising 2L as well, but I've heard some commons Qs are: Why did you decide to go to law school/why do you want to be a lawyer? What was your favorite subject 1L year? What was the most interesting legal issue you studied? Why do you want to work at this firm? Which practice areas are you interested in?

I would love for any 3Ls or grads to chime in on Qs they were commonly asked during OCI, though!

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:20 pm

I think this thread is solid, but I kept thinking while reading the advice, and maybe it is because I have interviewed in the corporate world before - isn't this common sense and/or questions you would naturally develop through research? Of course you want to demonstrate your knowledge of practice areas of the firm that you are interested in and ask any questions you have about it, right? And if you know who you are itnerviewing with, learn about their background beforehand and ask them questions about what their experience has been like?

It's not just you guys, but I have thought this throughout these interview skills things our career office had. Who actually goes in and says "I want to work at a law firm" or "What do SAs do"?


Agreed -- I'm reading this thread thinking that these are questions that display the bare minimum of competency and research I would expect from a law student at OCI. If that (and good grades/Law Review) were all it took to get hired I'd be in Biglaw right now.

(sorry, edited b/c I quoted the wrong post at first)
Last edited by blsingindisguise on Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:24 pm

Sometimes I really think, especially in the first round/OCI interviews it's really a game of "Ok, we've already either decided to call you back based on your resume or are just interviewing you to fill a time slot. If you fit into the first category, let's see if you do anything to fuck it up by not giving standard-type answers to our questions."

I did have one interview where I know I got the CB by saying something especially ballsy and litigator-like, b/c the interviewer told me. But that can backfire too and I'm pretty sure the rest just went as I said above.

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:27 pm

blsingindisguise wrote:Sometimes I really think, especially in the first round/OCI interviews it's really a game of "Ok, we've already either decided to call you back based on your resume or are just interviewing you to fill a time slot. If you fit into the first category, let's see if you do anything to fuck it up by not giving standard-type answers to our questions."

I did have one interview where I know I got the CB by saying something especially ballsy and litigator-like, b/c the interviewer told me. But that can backfire too and I'm pretty sure the rest just went as I said above.


A few of my friends said they were blatantly told at screening interviews that they would not be considered for real because of grades.

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby shmoo597 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:41 pm

I read in some other thread, that a student was asked during an interview: "what is your favorite rule of civil procedure and why?"

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby 270910 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:00 pm

amyLAchemist wrote:
shmoo597 wrote:I read in some other thread, that a student was asked during an interview: "what is your favorite rule of civil procedure and why?"


56(b)

i have a hard time believing this was a real interview question.


2 is good. It should probably have been number 1, and it's pretty important, but I doubt it needs to be cited often. 12(f) is always fun to bring up at parties. 11 makes for entertaining motion practice.

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Re: ITT: We discuss things that will get you hired

Postby Matthies » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:09 pm

Pretty much agree 100% with Disco's thoughts.

I will add this to the selling yourself and discussing how the legal buinsnes works. careful who you get your information from. 1-3 year associates are about as clueless, for the most part, as OL's about how a firm actually works beyond their little sphere of influence. This is because they where most likely just like you, did not know many older lawyers, certainly not any partners, and don't know many now. They are great for information on how to land an SA, what X or Y expects, but not great for future advice or the business side of a law firm. Second many also got their jobs in a different economy where you had to work hard NOT to get an offer at the end of a summer SA. That's no longer the case.

Hence this is why a beat a dead horse about networking in law school. As a law student there are barriers you can cross that you can't once you get licnsisnced. You can make friends with senior partners and judges as law students and ask them pointed questions about eh practice and business of law that you cannot do once you become part of the firm.

Take full advantage of that law student card now, because once your licensed there are barriers to who and what you can ask, at least within your own firm. Older lawyers as mentors are far more valuable for your career and landing jobs than new lawyers, even new lawyers at the firm you want to work for.

Finally if someone you know recommended you apply to that firm, mention that in your cover letter. X suggested I apply to your firm because he/she thinks we would make a good fit. Again here, the more experienced the recoemdner the better, but any personal connection to the firm is at least worth mentioning.




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