Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

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AP-375
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Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby AP-375 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:32 pm

Many firms will schedule lunch or coffee with a couple of junior associates after the in-office part of a callback.
I understand that this is still part of the callback, evaluation, interview process, but how is it different?
I'm sure it varies, but what level of formality is there in these settings?
Are the same questions off limits that might be off limits in a screener?
For instance, if I'm sitting down with a junior associate outside of an interview situation, I'd want to know:
1) What kind of exit opportunities are realistic?
2) What sucks about your firm and why?
3) Why is your firm better than the other people I'm interviewing with?
4) How long are you planning to remain at the firm?
Would these be totally inappropriate over coffee during a callback?

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buckilaw
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby buckilaw » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:42 pm

AP-375 wrote:Many firms will schedule lunch or coffee with a couple of junior associates after the in-office part of a callback.
I understand that this is still part of the callback, evaluation, interview process, but how is it different?
I'm sure it varies, but what level of formality is there in these settings?
Are the same questions off limits that might be off limits in a screener?
For instance, if I'm sitting down with a junior associate outside of an interview situation, I'd want to know:
1) What kind of exit opportunities are realistic?
2) What sucks about your firm and why?
3) Why is your firm better than the other people I'm interviewing with?
4) How long are you planning to remain at the firm?
Would these be totally inappropriate over coffee during a callback?


Relevant to my interests.

I'm thinking you would never, ever, ever want to ask an associate about exit options during the interview process. Firms want us to stick around for awhile, asking about exit options might give them the wrong idea.

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Detrox
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby Detrox » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:46 pm

buckilaw wrote:
AP-375 wrote:Many firms will schedule lunch or coffee with a couple of junior associates after the in-office part of a callback.
I understand that this is still part of the callback, evaluation, interview process, but how is it different?
I'm sure it varies, but what level of formality is there in these settings?
Are the same questions off limits that might be off limits in a screener?
For instance, if I'm sitting down with a junior associate outside of an interview situation, I'd want to know:
1) What kind of exit opportunities are realistic?
2) What sucks about your firm and why?
3) Why is your firm better than the other people I'm interviewing with?
4) How long are you planning to remain at the firm?
Would these be totally inappropriate over coffee during a callback?


Relevant to my interests.

I'm thinking you would never, ever, ever want to ask an associate about exit options during the interview process. Firms want us to stick around for awhile, asking about exit options might give them the wrong idea.


Out of these I'd think only #3 was appropriate. If you rephrased #2 it would be more acceptable (i.e. What has been the most difficult thing about working at X? Ask this with "What have you liked most about X?"). You can ask the more pressing/informal questions after you have received an offer by scheduling a meeting with 3ls or alumni who summered/work there. Otherwise, treat it like you're in the office and still putting only your best/least offensive foot forward.

bdubs
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby bdubs » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:46 pm

AP-375 wrote:Many firms will schedule lunch or coffee with a couple of junior associates after the in-office part of a callback.
I understand that this is still part of the callback, evaluation, interview process, but how is it different?
I'm sure it varies, but what level of formality is there in these settings?
Are the same questions off limits that might be off limits in a screener?
For instance, if I'm sitting down with a junior associate outside of an interview situation, I'd want to know:
1) What kind of exit opportunities are realistic?
2) What sucks about your firm and why?
3) Why is your firm better than the other people I'm interviewing with?
4) How long are you planning to remain at the firm?
Would these be totally inappropriate over coffee during a callback?


Treat a lunch just like you would treat an interview. The only difference is you should talk more about yourself and personal/nonprofessional things at lunch.

Most of your questions are phrased totally inappropriately, even if the content is OK.

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Ludo!
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby Ludo! » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:47 pm

Callback lunches are fun and it's definitely more laid back, but it's still part of the interview process and they will still be evaluating. I wouldn't ask about exit options or anything that would indicate you're not interested in working there long term. But asking about good and bad parts of the job is fair game. I wouldn't phrase it as 'what sucks' but I think it's ok to ask what are some things you don't like about the job. And you can definitely ask what sets the firm apart. A lot of times they will ask where else you've interviewed and might volunteer on their own why they think their firm is better. Usually the associates you'll be going to lunch with are young so they went through the same process fairly recently and can tell you why they chose the firm that they did.

AP-375
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby AP-375 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:50 pm

Thank you for the responses. Regarding the phrasing: I appreciate the concern, although I definitely wouldn't phrase my questions like that. They were just representative examples of topics or information I'd be interested in.
But keeping it slightly more personal makes sense. I guess just keep it superficial, innocuous, and focus on fit, amirite?
Regarding exit options, I understand the point of wanting to make myself look committed to the firm, and for the sake of playing it safe, I WON'T mention it. BUT, it is such an 800-pound gorilla to avoid. Everyone knows that it's difficult (if not extremely unlikely) to make partner, and exit options are a driving decision factor in choosing X over Y. You know that the people you're interviewing with are considering them, you know that you'll be considering them in 5 years wherever you are.
It's a shame that caution dictates that you can't bring it up.
Is it acceptable post offer?
Last edited by AP-375 on Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ben4847
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby ben4847 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:53 pm

Anything you actually want to ask should be asked during a post offer visit.

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gotmilk?
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby gotmilk? » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:57 pm

In addition to staying away from "what are exit options like," I'd avoid asking them about how long they plan to stick around. It's somewhat awkwardly personal, especially since they're trying to sell you on the firm. If the conversation gets around to it naturally, it's fair game.

Another thing to think about is that junior associates usually have very very little sway over the ultimate hiring decision. As long as you don't do something egregious during the lunch, you're probably fine. I was recently talking about the callback interview process at my firm. Just have a nice conversation, freely ask about some things you wouldn't ask a partner, and don't be too weird (although even being awkward with junior associates often makes no difference whatsoever- maybe they'd help a partner confirm a weird feeling he had about you or something, but that's about it).

Anonymous User
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:00 am

AP-375 wrote:1) What kind of exit opportunities are realistic?
2) What sucks about your firm and why?
3) Why is your firm better than the other people I'm interviewing with?
4) How long are you planning to remain at the firm?
Would these be totally inappropriate over coffee during a callback?


As a junior associate, I think these questions sound a bit inappropriate and are better left for when you have multiple offers. After you have an SA offer, firms will let you speak to junior associates so that you can make a more informed decision. I would raise these questions then. The lunch or coffee is really just to see if you're a normal person who people would like to work with.

For Q1, to me, this indicates that you aren't committed to working at a firm. One way to better couch this discussion is to describe what your desired career path is, and to explain how you think the firm fits into that path.

For Q2, I would wait until you have an SA offer.

For Q3, a junior associate will likely have little insight. Obviously, junior associates have friends working at other firms, but a first or second year associate will only have firsthand experience working at one firm. A better question would be to ask about a firm's strengths. A junior associate would know that their firm has a top-notch litigation practice, but the associate likely wouldn't know why their firm was better or worse than Gibson Dunn, Paul Weiss, Kirkland, ect.

For Q4, this seems quite odd. If a junior associate were planning on leaving, why would they open up to an interviewee? For me, I have no idea how long I plan to be at my firm, but I quite enjoy working there now.

AP-375
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby AP-375 » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:these questions sound a bit inappropriate

gotmilk? wrote: It's somewhat awkwardly personal,

I really appreciate the opinions. Just to reiterate/clarify, these aren't questions that I would really consider asking in an interview. They are more like questions I would ask a good friend who worked at the firm. I guess my point was to try to find the right spot between that type of interaction and a partner interview, and I think I'm getting a good idea.

anon168
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby anon168 » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:18 am

AP-375 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:these questions sound a bit inappropriate

gotmilk? wrote: It's somewhat awkwardly personal,

I really appreciate the opinions. Just to reiterate/clarify, these aren't questions that I would really consider asking in an interview. They are more like questions I would ask a good friend who worked at the firm. I guess my point was to try to find the right spot between that type of interaction and a partner interview, and I think I'm getting a good idea.


re: exit options.

If you want to ask about it, do it this way: "If you were to leave the firm in 5 years, where would you want to go?" or "If you were to leave the firm, what's the type of job that would entice you the most?"

rad lulz
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby rad lulz » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:21 am

#2 - I've gotten offers from firms where I've asked "is there anything you dislike about the firm or feel the firm could do better?" No problem. Interviewers have told me it's a solid Q.

#3 - Totally legitimate question if phrased as something more positive like "what made you choose this firm over others?"

sbalive
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby sbalive » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:28 am

I think all of these are reasonable areas to talk about during a callback. It's just about how you ask them & how much empathy you have with the people you're talking to and figuring out how to approach it smoothly.

An important thing is to always be positive and spin questions positively, even if you think of them as negative at first. Studies show that you need to weight your verbal comments 70-30 positive-negative, that is, 70% of what you say needs to be positive if you want to come off as a positive person. Do that and you can dig up a lot of the information you need.

I talked about exit opportunities all the time, and it was fine -- just don't do it at those smaller / secondary market firms where they are actually hiring for future partners.

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monkey85
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby monkey85 » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:29 am

Just know - after the lunch they write up a review, just like any other callback interview in an actual office.

You can decide if you feel comfortable with them reporting what you ask/say to the hiring partner/committee.

rad lulz
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby rad lulz » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:34 am

You could ask this dude "where do you see yourself in 5 yrs"

Lawyerhead
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby Lawyerhead » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:37 am

AP-375 wrote:Many firms will schedule lunch or coffee with a couple of junior associates after the in-office part of a callback.
I understand that this is still part of the callback, evaluation, interview process, but how is it different?
I'm sure it varies, but what level of formality is there in these settings?
Are the same questions off limits that might be off limits in a screener?
For instance, if I'm sitting down with a junior associate outside of an interview situation, I'd want to know:
1) What kind of exit opportunities are realistic?
2) What sucks about your firm and why?
3) Why is your firm better than the other people I'm interviewing with?
4) How long are you planning to remain at the firm?
Would these be totally inappropriate over coffee during a callback?


Unfortunately I'm too senior to do lunch interviews anymore, but I've done dozens over the years. Asking about exit opportunities would be totally cool with me. No one is under the illusion that everyone wants to make partner. Only a very small handful of each class even get a chance at their firm. To me, someone asking about exit opportunities is someone who is planning for the future. But it's all about HOW you ask it.

Asking the junior associate to tell you why his firm is better than any other is not good. Most firms tell interviewers not to comment specifically about other firms, for one. Second, unless the associate has worked at these other firms, then the associate will either have no clue about other firms or will just repeat some random stories someone else told him. Asking me why I picked my firm? Good. Asking why you should pick my firm over some other V## firm? I'd think you're clueless, tbh. Figure out what's important to you and structure your questions appropriately.

Also, keep in mind that you can do after offer visits. Many q's are better asked there.

Finally, lunch interviews matter. There were definitely candidates I've interviewed who didn't get an offer because of my review of them during lunch.

de5igual
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby de5igual » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:45 am

For Q1, one way is to ask how long have most associates stayed? where did those associates who left go? i probably wouldn't ask this during the interview, but it's totally legit to ask once you have at least the summer offer in hand.

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romothesavior
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby romothesavior » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:49 am

I would ask them to tell you about teh models and bottles.

rad lulz
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby rad lulz » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:49 am

romothesavior wrote:I would ask them to tell you about teh models and bottles.

MOTTLES N BAUBLES

Lawyerhead
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby Lawyerhead » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:50 am

romothesavior wrote:I would ask them to tell you about teh models and bottles.


This is good advice.

Anonymous User
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:54 am

Bump to ask--

Is it bad to not attend the lunch? If you are trying to do two CBs in one day..? Will it be held against you

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byronmullens
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby byronmullens » Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Bump to ask--

Is it bad to not attend the lunch? If you are trying to do two CBs in one day..? Will it be held against you

Yea the lunch is part of the callback, skipping out on part of the interview, you might as well just skip the entire interview. Think about the message this sends...you are not that interested in the firm, why would they want to give you an offer?

Anonymous User
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:20 pm

how else do people do multiple CBs in one day then? Seems impossible if you have morning + lunch and then try to do an afternoon.

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byronmullens
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby byronmullens » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:how else do people do multiple CBs in one day then? Seems impossible if you have morning + lunch and then try to do an afternoon.

Sometimes CB's don't have a lunch component, if you have little time between your two callbacks you should look into pushing the other one to another day if possible. Worse thing that could happen is stressing over making the second CB and thus not preforming adequately.

Anonymous User
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Re: Callback Lunches with Junior Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:52 pm

yeah I'm just trying to fit as many callbacks into an out of town trip as possible. I agree it probably sends a bad message, but I thought maybe it was still pretty common for people to not attend the optional lunches. Thx




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