An interesting EIW/OCI question...

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BoriquaEsquire
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:04 pm

An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby BoriquaEsquire » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:11 pm

So, I have an interesting predicament:

I'm going to be a 2L in the fall and I'm going to EIW (pre-OCI) in Manhattan. I am also a service dog user.

I'm definitely going to bring my service dog with me to the interviews. My illness has progressed such that I cannot go an entire week in Manhattan without her and still be safe. My heart isn't set on a private sector job so if I don't get anything it won't be the end of the world.

My question is, what do you all think I should expect? I know most of you probably won't have this issue come up for you but I'm sure everyone has an opinion on it.

Thanks!

LawIdiot86
Posts: 1159
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:21 pm

Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby LawIdiot86 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:29 pm

BoriquaEsquire wrote:So, I have an interesting predicament:

I'm going to be a 2L in the fall and I'm going to EIW (pre-OCI) in Manhattan. I am also a service dog user.

I'm definitely going to bring my service dog with me to the interviews. My illness has progressed such that I cannot go an entire week in Manhattan without her and still be safe. My heart isn't set on a private sector job so if I don't get anything it won't be the end of the world.

My question is, what do you all think I should expect? I know most of you probably won't have this issue come up for you but I'm sure everyone has an opinion on it.

Thanks!


If the service dog is for something that appears physical to the interviewer (blindness, heart condition, epilepsy), they probably won't care and it may even score you some sympathy points. If it's for something that appears to indicate mental illness (depression, anxiety, panic), it will severely hurt your odds. Yes, it is illegal to refuse to hire someone because they have a mental or emotional disorder, but these are lawyers and they know they will just phrase their reviews in such a way to to ding you. Given the number of applicants and vague "fit" qualifications, it would be nearly impossible to prove. No one is stupid enough these days to repeat the Philadelphia Story. Sorry, it's wrong, but it's the way business operates.

BoriquaEsquire
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:04 pm

Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby BoriquaEsquire » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:16 pm

Yeah, that's really sad about the bias against people with mental illness, especially when something like 1 in 5 attorneys have mental illness.

My situation is sort of straddling the line. My dog isn't for mental illness, she's for a neurological movement disorder that's progressive (much like Parkinson's). I don't want them to get a hint of that and for some reason think they're going to have to pay my disability somewhere down the road. I'll probably be working until I'm in my early 40s. I'm 25 now. I doubt that in today's world I'll be with the same firm that entire time.

How much do I reveal and how much do I keep quiet? Do you think I should expect them to ask for such detailed medical information? If so, can I refuse to tell them or would that be a bad idea?

Renzo
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Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby Renzo » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:51 pm

BoriquaEsquire wrote:Yeah, that's really sad about the bias against people with mental illness, especially when something like 1 in 5 attorneys have mental illness.

My situation is sort of straddling the line. My dog isn't for mental illness, she's for a neurological movement disorder that's progressive (much like Parkinson's). I don't want them to get a hint of that and for some reason think they're going to have to pay my disability somewhere down the road. I'll probably be working until I'm in my early 40s. I'm 25 now. I doubt that in today's world I'll be with the same firm that entire time.

How much do I reveal and how much do I keep quiet? Do you think I should expect them to ask for such detailed medical information? If so, can I refuse to tell them or would that be a bad idea?


No, you should not be talking about medical issues at all in an interview. And, yes, you should be prepared with polite ways to deflect the conversation if an interviewer brings it up. The interview is your opportunity to sell yourself; if all the interviewer takes away from the conversation is your health history, then they know nothing about your qualifications for employment and you are not getting the job.

Your single most important goal for the interviews is to demonstrate (as much as possible) how your are capable of performing what is expected of you, and how little your condition matters to your ability to get things done. There is no amount of explanation that can make someone believe this. But, you can make them believe it by demonstrating for them firsthand that you are as capable as any other applicant, and that there is no reason to even notice or discuss the fact that you came in with a dog, because you are here for business.

dudders
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Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby dudders » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:05 pm

I'm pretty sure employers can't ask about your service dog, and hopefully most lawyers would know better than to try. If you want to explain why you have the dog, feel free - it's a personal choice that only you can make. I would tend toward something simple and upfront - you can't hide a service dog (nor should you feel obligated to). I would keep it short and sweet - after basic introductions "This is my service dog, Fido. I have a neurological disorder but it won't affect my job functions."). Get the elephant out of the way and move on with why you're awesome. You have the grades to get you to EIW, so any interviewer with half a brain should already know that any condition or disability isn't getting in your way.

If you didn't want to mention it at all, I would definitely make sure the dog has clear insignia of some kind on, like a vest or visible tags (especially if you use a standard-looking leash rather than a harness, visible handle etc.).

I would hope anything further that the interviewer would ask would be purely dog-related questions ("how old is he?" or unfamiliar people asking how you walk the pet/service animal line at home, etc.), the same type of questions I'm sure you get from new friends and the general public from time to time. I would answer these types of questions as if they were any old interview small-talk.

If they actually pry into medical status or ask anything further, I would hope you feel totally comfortable refusing to answer anything you didn't want to share. If they crossed the line, I would probably politely but firmly deflect back to the normal interview questions - yes, but, we have a limited time together and I was really hoping to learn more about X/tell you about Y ...

Personally, even I could get by without a service animal for 20-30 minute screeners, I would want to bring the dog from the get-go rather than have it show up at later events (call-back parties/lunches). I think upfront is the best approach.

FWIW, when I interned at DOJ one of the lawyers in my division had a service dog, so you're not alone out there.

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IAFG
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Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby IAFG » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:07 pm

Help me understand. You need the service dog to be with you generally, but not physically in the interview room? Could you get a staff person from your OCS to walk you to your interview room, stay with your service dog, then be waiting for you when you finish?

LawIdiot86
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Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby LawIdiot86 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:16 pm

dudders wrote:I'm pretty sure employers can't ask about your service dog, and hopefully most lawyers would know better than to try. If you want to explain why you have the dog, feel free - it's a personal choice that only you can make. I would tend toward something simple and upfront - you can't hide a service dog (nor should you feel obligated to). I would keep it short and sweet - after basic introductions "This is my service dog, Fido. I have a neurological disorder but it won't affect my job functions."). Get the elephant out of the way and move on with why you're awesome. You have the grades to get you to EIW, so any interviewer with half a brain should already know that any condition or disability isn't getting in your way.

If you didn't want to mention it at all, I would definitely make sure the dog has clear insignia of some kind on, like a vest or visible tags (especially if you use a standard-looking leash rather than a harness, visible handle etc.).

I would hope anything further that the interviewer would ask would be purely dog-related questions ("how old is he?" or unfamiliar people asking how you walk the pet/service animal line at home, etc.), the same type of questions I'm sure you get from new friends and the general public from time to time. I would answer these types of questions as if they were any old interview small-talk.

If they actually pry into medical status or ask anything further, I would hope you feel totally comfortable refusing to answer anything you didn't want to share. If they crossed the line, I would probably politely but firmly deflect back to the normal interview questions - yes, but, we have a limited time together and I was really hoping to learn more about X/tell you about Y ...

Personally, even I could get by without a service animal for 20-30 minute screeners, I would want to bring the dog from the get-go rather than have it show up at later events (call-back parties/lunches). I think upfront is the best approach.

FWIW, when I interned at DOJ one of the lawyers in my division had a service dog, so you're not alone out there.


I have a non-obvious physical disability and was at a diversity fair. A V50 partner was interviewing for a firm's head office and asked why I was there because "you look like a plain old white guy like me." I told him I had a disability and briefly described it. My OCS counselor had a heart attack when I told him about it after, but said it wasn't worth doing anything about because it would only hurt my name in the industry.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:53 pm

I like IAFG's suggestion a lot. I would think your career services people would want to help you with this as much as possible.

Otherwise, just tactically, I would work on a brief, confident, not-TMI explanation for the dog. They shouldn't be asking you or making decisions with it in mind but I think that 1) as has been mentioned, some are tactless/stupid enough to inquire anyway, and 2) no matter how good their intentions, at least some of your interviewers will probably be distracted by it until it's explained, and you want their full attention on your qualifications, personality, etc.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:02 pm

Well, I say this lightheartedly but also seriously - I would be happy if someone in my office had a service dog. I like dogs. If its legit, you have nothing to explain. I agree - a brief canned speach if the issue comes up should be in your head - maybe don't mention the disease or disorder, but instead say "she helps me if I have a seizure" or whatever it is she helps with. And if they ask you about it directly, frown at you, and say they won't hire you because of the dog - congratulations, you've hit the employment discrimination lottery! Talk to a plaintiff's lawyer to collect your prize!

No, seriously though, you'll be fine. Like someone above said, impress them with how much you are there to do business, and the dog is just like corrective eye lenses for someone near sighted. Don't be meek, be confident, and you'll likely be judged on the merits, as you should. Good luck.

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:22 pm

With a neurological disorder, they may be concerned about their ability to squeeze a "normal" amount of work out of you; some conditions do have fatigue as a symptom. I like IAFG's suggestion a lot, or some similar way for the interviewer to not see the dog. Sad that it has to come to that, but if you want a shot at a firm job, I think it's your best bet.

dooood
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Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby dooood » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:29 pm

LawIdiot86 wrote:
BoriquaEsquire wrote:So, I have an interesting predicament:

I'm going to be a 2L in the fall and I'm going to EIW (pre-OCI) in Manhattan. I am also a service dog user.

I'm definitely going to bring my service dog with me to the interviews. My illness has progressed such that I cannot go an entire week in Manhattan without her and still be safe. My heart isn't set on a private sector job so if I don't get anything it won't be the end of the world.

My question is, what do you all think I should expect? I know most of you probably won't have this issue come up for you but I'm sure everyone has an opinion on it.

Thanks!


If the service dog is for something that appears physical to the interviewer (blindness, heart condition, epilepsy), they probably won't care and it may even score you some sympathy points. If it's for something that appears to indicate mental illness (depression, anxiety, panic), it will severely hurt your odds. Yes, it is illegal to refuse to hire someone because they have a mental or emotional disorder, but these are lawyers and they know they will just phrase their reviews in such a way to to ding you. Given the number of applicants and vague "fit" qualifications, it would be nearly impossible to prove. No one is stupid enough these days to repeat the Philadelphia Story. Sorry, it's wrong, but it's the way business operates.

You mean the Philadelphia story. The Philadelphia Story is a different film altogether, and doesn't address employment discrimination

BoriquaEsquire
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:04 pm

Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby BoriquaEsquire » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:59 am

IAFG wrote:Help me understand. You need the service dog to be with you generally, but not physically in the interview room? Could you get a staff person from your OCS to walk you to your interview room, stay with your service dog, then be waiting for you when you finish?


No, the dog has to be with me in the interview room. She's trained in mobility work which means she helps me stand up, sit down, and walk without falling. I've tried a cane but I get vertigo so I could fall in any direction at any time. I really don't want to walk into the room, fall, and be unable to get back up. I think that would be a definite ding.

Here's what she looks like in harness:
Image

I got her from a legitimate program (like The Seeing Eye but for mobility dogs instead of guide dogs). Would it be overkill to have the program write a letter certifying her training? I've asked them to do it before.

LawIdiot86
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Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby LawIdiot86 » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:14 am

BoriquaEsquire wrote:
IAFG wrote:Help me understand. You need the service dog to be with you generally, but not physically in the interview room? Could you get a staff person from your OCS to walk you to your interview room, stay with your service dog, then be waiting for you when you finish?


No, the dog has to be with me in the interview room. She's trained in mobility work which means she helps me stand up, sit down, and walk without falling. I've tried a cane but I get vertigo so I could fall in any direction at any time. I really don't want to walk into the room, fall, and be unable to get back up. I think that would be a definite ding.

Here's what she looks like in harness:
Image

I got her from a legitimate program (like The Seeing Eye but for mobility dogs instead of guide dogs). Would it be overkill to have the program write a letter certifying her training? I've asked them to do it before.


Nah, that dog looks fine to me. The harness structure clearly indicates she is there for a physical purpose (as opposed to an emotional/mental health purpose). Don't mention it or give a note. Just walk in and focus on your legal skills and why you want them. They won't ding you (unless they would have anyway) and might even give you some diversity bonus points.

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: An interesting EIW/OCI question...

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:06 pm

If her function is to keep you from falling over, I think that's actually good in terms of what to say if they ask what she's for. If you say something like "I have mobility issues, she keeps me from falling over," it's a clean, concise explanation of her function without any hint that your condition is progressive OR neurological. The interviewer would have to be tool of tools to ask WHY you have mobility issues. If you can give that kind of explanation, I would guess that most of those who ask will just file it away as "crippled or something" and not have cause to wonder if it's something that could interfere with your work, now or later.




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