Callbacks and "fit" --> the whole package from before LS

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Anonymous User
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Callbacks and "fit" --> the whole package from before LS

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:02 am

I am a rising 2L who recently finished OCI and have yet to receive any callbacks. ITE it's hard to know where the line is, but many people at my school of a similar rank or a bit below have gotten a few. (We're still waiting on a few firms, so nothing is certain yet.) I am reasonably sure my interviewing style is fine, as I never had this issue prior to starting law school. I felt great rapport with some of my interviewers, and my bidding list was well vetted before I went anywhere near career services.

In short, I suspect firms dislike my pre-law school credentials. I'm not old enough to be a nontrad, but I do have work experience in another field, and I have been asked point blank: "What are you doing in law school?" It's not hostile, I think. I just think they can't picture me happily fitting the culture at a biglaw firm. I do have an unusual background for a law student, and many interviewers just wanted to talk about how I liked life in my previous industry. I liked it fine, but obviously not so much that I didn't want to come to law school! I have been told that I would probably have callbacks if my background were more typical, and that firms, being risk averse, don't want to invest in an unknown quantity, especially ITE.

Does this sound accurate? Other than deleting everything pre 2009 from my resume, is there anything I can do to make employers less wary that I won't be a good fit? Should I spend more time targeting the legal side of my previous field, where I've had more interest and luck? Few firms specialize in this area, but if I could be directly hired in house, the fit question would be moot.

spondee
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Re: Callbacks and "fit" --> the whole package from before LS

Postby spondee » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:37 am

I've had a lot of success with an unusual background. Obviously, I can't know for sure, but I think these are a couple of reasons:

1. Unusual work experience is a generally good thing. You're immediately memorable and interviewers will actually want to talk about your past.

2. But you have to justify the transition to law. I think this is the biggest thing. They don't want to hire someone who's floundering around in life. I was able to tell a story that tied the different parts of my pre-law experience together and naturally culminated in law school. Even better if you can tie your background into the kind of law you want to practice, and from there to working at a firm.

3. Generally, work experience is good. Employers like to hire folks that are mature and have a strong sense of what it means to work. But you still want to be able to tie your work to legal work: what skills did you learn that you can you transfer? I answered this question a few times, usually bringing it up myself when I seemed to really need to justify my past experiences.

I'd counsel against emphasizing your research into life at a law firm. How can you really understand life at a law firm until you've worked at one? I think you'd be better off looking for and highlighting connections between your past and the legal work that you're seeking, both in terms of interest and skills.

Hopes this helps.

Anonymous User
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Re: Callbacks and "fit" --> the whole package from before LS

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 2:57 am

spondee wrote:I've had a lot of success with an unusual background. Obviously, I can't know for sure, but I think these are a couple of reasons:

1. Unusual work experience is a generally good thing. You're immediately memorable and interviewers will actually want to talk about your past.

2. But you have to justify the transition to law. I think this is the biggest thing. They don't want to hire someone who's floundering around in life. I was able to tell a story that tied the different parts of my pre-law experience together and naturally culminated in law school. Even better if you can tie your background into the kind of law you want to practice, and from there to working at a firm.

3. Generally, work experience is good. Employers like to hire folks that are mature and have a strong sense of what it means to work. But you still want to be able to tie your work to legal work: what skills did you learn that you can you transfer? I answered this question a few times, usually bringing it up myself when I seemed to really need to justify my past experiences.

I'd counsel against emphasizing your research into life at a law firm. How can you really understand life at a law firm until you've worked at one? I think you'd be better off looking for and highlighting connections between your past and the legal work that you're seeking, both in terms of interest and skills.

Hopes this helps.


Thanks very much. I think #2 is an interesting consideration, because I am not certain there is some great narrative arc. I haven't entirely figured out how the different parts of my life tie together! When I applied to law school, I thought I would be making a clean break with my previous field, and I no longer want to do that. A partner actually told me I would be an invaluable asset in that field with my legal education, since so few people come to law school with this background. I did get asked about transferable skills, and had a good answer for that. I think I was just surprised to have my motives questioned so much. I found legal studies interesting in and of themselves, and met my academic goals here. I focused a lot on the present and the recent past, because I've enjoyed law school (and this past summer) very much. I believe I conveyed my enthusiasm for my current course of study, and had good things to say about my previous industry when asked.

The upside is that I have a lot more insight now into what I do want to do, and every single person I meet seems to be telling me to use my legal education in my old field.

Anonymous User
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Re: Callbacks and "fit" --> the whole package from before LS

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:00 am

Regarding the "Why are you in law school?" type questions, it's a very common question; as a non-trad with non-legal work experience, I got it at almost every interview. Firms just kept asking. I think it's a standard question and also one that would help them gauge your interest in working for them. If you say "I want to change the world and help starving children through the law" then they know you're not that serious about working for a firm for very long.

Anonymous User
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Re: Callbacks and "fit" --> the whole package from before LS

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:17 am

spondee wrote:I've had a lot of success with an unusual background. Obviously, I can't know for sure, but I think these are a couple of reasons:

1. Unusual work experience is a generally good thing. You're immediately memorable and interviewers will actually want to talk about your past.

2. But you have to justify the transition to law. I think this is the biggest thing. They don't want to hire someone who's floundering around in life. I was able to tell a story that tied the different parts of my pre-law experience together and naturally culminated in law school. Even better if you can tie your background into the kind of law you want to practice, and from there to working at a firm.

3. Generally, work experience is good. Employers like to hire folks that are mature and have a strong sense of what it means to work. But you still want to be able to tie your work to legal work: what skills did you learn that you can you transfer? I answered this question a few times, usually bringing it up myself when I seemed to really need to justify my past experiences.

I'd counsel against emphasizing your research into life at a law firm. How can you really understand life at a law firm until you've worked at one? I think you'd be better off looking for and highlighting connections between your past and the legal work that you're seeking, both in terms of interest and skills.

Hopes this helps.


cr; I'm pretty much in the same position and had the same experience. I guess the law does teach you to treat like alike.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Callbacks and "fit" --> the whole package from before LS

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Regarding the "Why are you in law school?" type questions, it's a very common question; as a non-trad with non-legal work experience, I got it at almost every interview. Firms just kept asking. I think it's a standard question and also one that would help them gauge your interest in working for them. If you say "I want to change the world and help starving children through the law" then they know you're not that serious about working for a firm for very long.


Haha, yes, I realize this. I talked honestly about my academic and substantive interest in the law, and exposure to it I'd had before law school. I definitely didn't BS at all. We'll see how it ends...

I had an interview today in house with a company in my previous field, and it might be something promising. If this could lead to a permanent position, it would be pretty much ideal.




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