Anonymous User wrote:I was not as successful at obtaining callbacks as I should have been. I am in the top 10% of the class at CCN and only got 4 callbacks. I am trying to figure out why. I am not the greatest interviewer but I didn't think I was that bad. I worked before law school for several years and had never had trouble getting jobs before.
A few theories I have are that my resume is too public-interest heavy, I am on a secondary journal (my school only has a few LR slots that are a combo of grades and competition), and I may have seemed too unsure of what I wanted to do and too flexible on the location (i.e. expressing interest in other offices).
Do any of those theories seem right to you?
I am preparing for the callbacks I do have, and could use some advice about a few things:
1) Is it ok to say that I want to explore a variety of practice areas because I think it's hard to really know what you want to do until you have tried it?
2) I was very prepared to answer the question of why I want to work at a firm when my resume is so PI-heavy, but have not been asked it. Should I try to find a way to preemptively answer it? My answer is that I really enjoyed Corporations class last semester, and I realized I was more interested in transactional work. Is that a good answer, and should I give it even without being asked?
3) If I am asked what other firms I have callbacks with, should I lie and add a few more to the list? I don't usually believe in being dishonest but I am afraid my low number of callbacks and the wide variation in the firms that did call me back in terms of location, vault rank and practice area strengths is a red flag. I am thinking that they probably don't verify your answer to that question, right?
4) Several firms have still not gotten back to me either way. Some of them have dinged other people. Is there any hope at this point?
Thanks so much!
Sorry to hear that on the callback front - that actually is pretty surprising. Were you only focused on the most hyper-selective firms or cities (DC, SF)? Also, is top 10% not generally good enough for LR at your school (and/or how do you know you're top 10%, I didn't think CCN ranked?)
The PI-nature of your resume could be a red flag; did you ask about pro bono opportunities as well? That can be a killer combo (especially if you're not a great interview). The secondary journal shouldn't be an issue generally, and the "too many offices" would only be an issue if you were SUPER unsure (saying NY, but open to other offices, for example, shouldn't be an issue).
On question 1, totally fine (and I think it was my answer) though it'd be surprising if you didn't at least have a "lean". 1L year generally drives people one way or the other - totally OK to be flexible unless you're interviewing at one-practice shops.
On question 2, were you asked other things that sorta drove to that question? That's honestly not a very good answer (especially if the first one is so open). You've got a huge PI background, been doing that your whole life, now went to law school (presumably because you wanted to go do PI stuff) and it all changed based on one class? That strikes me as odd and possibly not true.
On question 3, don't lie but be somewhat evasive. I doubt places will flat out ask you (I find it to be unusual). If a firm verified your question (someone called a friend) that would be awful (though I really don't think this happens much). Fantastic answer might be "I'm still meeting with a few different places, though I think [YOUR FIRM] is possibly my top choice due to [REASON]"
On question 4...maybe. Don't know for sure but no ding is always better than ding...
Thanks for your advice. On question 1, I said not sure but leaning toward transactional. I told a story of negotiating a lease for myself and how I realized I was pretty good at thinking of possible contingencies.
I came to law school with a PI/political background but open to the option of working at a firm. I am realizing that I am more of a negotiator than a litigator in terms of personality type, and there are not a lot of PI transactional opportunities. Corporations changed my view in that I found a lot of issues areas interesting that I didn't think would be, and I realized how much of corporate law is not between David and Goliath but between two Goliaths or different players within a Goliath (board v. shareholders, directors v. officers, etc.)
Last summer, I worked on death penalty litigation, and while it was a great experience, I realized that it's not what I want to do with my life. Having been exposed to litigation all summer made me at least want to try the transactional side, and that's what I said in several interviews. Bad answer?
I generally did not bring up pro bono unless asked about it. The only exceptions were firms that are very well known for their pro bono commitment. I actually did get callbacks from a couple of those. The only other way that I mentioned pro bono was if I was asked if I wanted to do death penalty work after this summer, and I said it's something I might be interested in doing as a pro bono matter but it wasn't what I wanted to do as a career. When pro bono did come up, I said that it was something I was interested in but recognized that it's not the primary focus of the firm.
With regard to class rank, you are correct that I do not know my exact rank, as my school does not disclose it. I read an estimated breakdown on this site and a couple other places. My GPA is just above a 3.7, and I think the cutoff last year for LR was around 3.85. So I don't know for sure if I am in the top 10%, but I know my GPA is above the cutoff points the career services office gave us for all the firms.
Any advice on how to better express why I want to work for a firm despite my PI background?