Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

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Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:43 am

I've been a vegan for years now, even if I weren't by choice, I'm lactose intolerant and get violently ill whenever I eat meat. I know that many call-backs involve lunch with the hiring partner and making serious amendments to menu items or things comes across as nit-picky and batshit insane so how should one approach a situation? I know a lot of people view vegetarian/vegans as unstable fringe hippies (which I've never understood) so if it comes up how does one approach that and still get an offer?

Everytime some one has asked me about it, I mention how it helped me lose close to 100 lbs, how I am a big animal lover, and an environmental conservationist. Are these honest answers to hippie-fringish for a BigLaw hiring partner?

rad lulz
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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby rad lulz » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:47 am

A decent amt of hiring coordinators will ask if you have dietary restrictions.

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:02 pm

From what I've heard the callback lunches really are voluntary, and they really don't care if you decline the lunch- it's offered as formality. That maybe your best option, though more people can chime in on this.

As far as representing your choice in diet, I would stick with the explanation of your lactose intolerance and how ill you get when you eat meat. I have vegan family members and have been involved in animal rights organizations and movements, and honestly I don't think there's a safe way to present an ethical motivation for veganism without putting people on the defensive (unless they're willing to have an awfully long chat about it). Typically, people either aren't sympathetic/don't care, so they will perceive you with the typical stereotypes regarding animal rights people, or they are inclined to be sympathetic and your being vegan may make them feel guilty about their choices-- either one is a bad result for an interview. In the end, unless they themselves are vegan or are closely related to people who are vegan, you can almost be guaranteed that giving an impression that you are an ethically-motivated vegan will make them feel awkward (self-conscious regarding what they order, etc.).

As far as the losing weight thing, I'd also not mention that. I'm also someone who lost a significant amount of weight at one point in my life, and with experience I've learned it's just not something to bring up unless it's relevant and in a really casual setting. Again, it puts people in an awkward spot. They start wondering if they should congratulate you, they automatically look at you and try to imagine you 100 pounds fatter and then wonder if you can tell that that's what they're thinking about, etc.

Anyway, I think being vegan is cool and it's cool that it's made your life healthier and more interesting for you. It sucks to have to 'hide' any part of that in an interview, but I think in the end you'd be making the wise move. Once you have the job, disclosing more of those things would be fine as time goes on.

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby rad lulz » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:From what I've heard the callback lunches really are voluntary, and they really don't care if you decline the lunch- it's offered as formality. That maybe your best option, though more people can chime in on this.

They aren't really voluntary. They're part of the interview. Those people on your lunch write evaluations too.

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Haymarket
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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby Haymarket » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:04 pm

Unless you have a plane to catch, I would not advise ever turning down lunch for a call back.\

EDIT: Unless you are interviewing at a firm I'm interested in. Then, by all means, skip lunch.
Last edited by Haymarket on Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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dingbat
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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby dingbat » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:05 pm

Try to keep your order as vanilla as possible, but don't put yourself at risk.
Then, if necessary, explain that you have an allergy

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rayiner
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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby rayiner » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:08 pm

Don't turn down lunch, but do mention it to the person coordinating your callback. He or she will take care of it discretely, by making sure associates take you somewhere you can get something to eat. Also, remember it'll probably just be associates at your lunch, who will be totally understanding if you're just honest (just say you have a medical condition and can't eat meat or dairy).

I mean to be fair, most hiring partners, at least in NYC/Chicago/etc, will lean left. Law is a very liberal profession. Even the ones that aren't won't be shocked at the idea of a vegan.

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:10 pm

I've been wondering this same thing for a while now. I am usually pretty good about being honest about it and even making a self-deprecating joke or something to lighten the conversation, but I've also never been on an interview lunch like this. Not vegan, though (just vegetarian), so I'm hoping it will be an easy topic to avoid so long as we don't get bbq or something...

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.

Postby Myself » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:11 pm

.
Last edited by Myself on Tue Nov 19, 2013 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Haymarket
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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby Haymarket » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:12 pm

ajax adonis wrote:No alcohol.

At lunch? This isn't Mad Men. Of course not.

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rayiner
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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby rayiner » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I've been wondering this same thing for a while now. I am usually pretty good about being honest about it and even making a self-deprecating joke or something to lighten the conversation, but I've also never been on an interview lunch like this. Not vegan, though (just vegetarian), so I'm hoping it will be an easy topic to avoid so long as we don't get bbq or something...


Dude, unless you're interviewing in a small firm in Alabama, the recruiting coordinator will have seen a dozen candidates who are vegetarians, vegans, kosher, etc, just that hiring cycle. They know how to take care of it discretely, just talk to them.

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:25 pm

The lunch component is usually only for morning interviews (i.e., they take you to lunch after the interviews). If you opt for an afternoon interview slot, there will not, typically, be a lunch component.

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:As far as representing your choice in diet, I would stick with the explanation of your lactose intolerance and how ill you get when you eat meat. I have vegan family members and have been involved in animal rights organizations and movements, and honestly I don't think there's a safe way to present an ethical motivation for veganism without putting people on the defensive (unless they're willing to have an awfully long chat about it). Typically, people either aren't sympathetic/don't care, so they will perceive you with the typical stereotypes regarding animal rights people, or they are inclined to be sympathetic and your being vegan may make them feel guilty about their choices-- either one is a bad result for an interview. In the end, unless they themselves are vegan or are closely related to people who are vegan, you can almost be guaranteed that giving an impression that you are an ethically-motivated vegan will make them feel awkward (self-conscious regarding what they order, etc.).


QFT. If you talk about conservationism, animals, etc., people will interpret it as an ethical judgment. And unless they themselves are vegetarian/vegan, such a judgment will almost definitely provoke a negative reaction for the above reasons. I feel fairly confident I lost out on a 1L SA in part because a recruiting coordinator, in front of the associates who took me to lunch, directly inquired "Are you vegetarian for moral or ethical reasons?" I was stunned she'd asked so directly and reactively told the truth. Lo and behold, looks of judgments crossed all three faces simultaneously. (Granted this was in Dallas, but I have since never answered the question forthrightly outside of a casual setting.)

Then again, I might've also lost out because I was a white guy stuck at lunch with two associates who constantly referred to each other as "n***a."

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:25 pm

Kind of similar question--I have really severe allergies to certain foods (think throat closing up, trip to the hospital). If I end up getting a callback with a lunch or dinner involved and somehow this issue is implicated how should I bring this up without seeming like a complete liability (i.e. firm sees me as somebody too "fragile" to hire)? Or is this just not as big a deal as I think it is?

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby Haymarket » Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Kind of similar question--I have really severe allergies to certain foods (think throat closing up, trip to the hospital). If I end up getting a callback with a lunch or dinner involved and somehow this issue is implicated how should I bring this up without seeming like a complete liability (i.e. firm sees me as somebody too "fragile" to hire)? Or is this just not as big a deal as I think it is?

Given that allergies are all psychosomatic, they will definitely conclude that you are weak and a terrible candidate because your immune system reacts to certain foods. How can you be expected to bill enough hours if you can't eat shellfish?

This is not a big deal at all. People have allergies. When they bring up lunch, they will likely ask you if you have a preference. Just tell them then. They will not think anything of it.

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby chasgoose » Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Kind of similar question--I have really severe allergies to certain foods (think throat closing up, trip to the hospital). If I end up getting a callback with a lunch or dinner involved and somehow this issue is implicated how should I bring this up without seeming like a complete liability (i.e. firm sees me as somebody too "fragile" to hire)? Or is this just not as big a deal as I think it is?


Not a big deal. First let the recruiting coordinator know if there are severe allergies to something that pops up at a certain type of restaurant (shellfish=not a place that is mostly seafood, soy= not Asian, etc.) But really, are your allergies so widespread that you often can't eat anything at a given restaurant? More often than not callback lunches happen at restaurants with relatively basic (if not cheap) menus. If you have been to a restaurant before you probably know what dishes tend to be more safe and you know how to tell a waiter what you are allergic to if you are worried about it sneakily being in a dish. Just tell the waiter causally and discreetly and there will be no big deal, they don't want you to die (yet) and enough people in our generation, or with children in our generation, understand the prevalence of allergies these days and also understand that you are an adult and since you aren't dead you know how to handle your allergies.

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby piccolittle » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:02 pm

Just order a salad that doesn't come with meat or cheese (or ask for the cheese to be taken off) - that's my plan. Assuming it's not weird for people to eat salad, right?

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:04 pm

chasgoose wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Kind of similar question--I have really severe allergies to certain foods (think throat closing up, trip to the hospital). If I end up getting a callback with a lunch or dinner involved and somehow this issue is implicated how should I bring this up without seeming like a complete liability (i.e. firm sees me as somebody too "fragile" to hire)? Or is this just not as big a deal as I think it is?


Not a big deal. First let the recruiting coordinator know if there are severe allergies to something that pops up at a certain type of restaurant (shellfish=not a place that is mostly seafood, soy= not Asian, etc.) But really, are your allergies so widespread that you often can't eat anything at a given restaurant? More often than not callback lunches happen at restaurants with relatively basic (if not cheap) menus. If you have been to a restaurant before you probably know what dishes tend to be more safe and you know how to tell a waiter what you are allergic to if you are worried about it sneakily being in a dish. Just tell the waiter causally and discreetly and there will be no big deal, they don't want you to die (yet) and enough people in our generation, or with children in our generation, understand the prevalence of allergies these days and also understand that you are an adult and since you aren't dead you know how to handle your allergies.


does it look weird to not order dessert? most of my allergies tend to be to things in dessert food.

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby jessuf » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:05 pm

I have food allergies and am vegetarian right now. I haven't had any problem. I just eat really boring salads. Everyone tries to convince me that I should order a filet or tuna at the restaurants, but they don't seem offput when I explain why I want salad. I usually just get made fun of for my allergies (e.g. chocolate because chocolate allergy is DEPRESSING).

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby chasgoose » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:16 pm

piccolittle wrote:Just order a salad that doesn't come with meat or cheese (or ask for the cheese to be taken off) - that's my plan. Assuming it's not weird for people to eat salad, right?


does it look weird to not order dessert? most of my allergies tend to be to things in dessert food.


The one callback lunch I went on during 1L hiring was at least 2 courses (app and entree), so you might have to order more than just a salad. It tends to be awkward not to order as many savory courses as the people with you (and if they are associates eating on the company dime, they are going to order multiple courses). That said, at least in NYC there are usually decent vegetarian options in both courses at the restaurants they will take you to. Of course this gets trickier if you are vegetarian/vegan AND severely allergic to things, but its not too hard.

Dessert is easier since a lot of people don't want dessert at lunch (either watching their weight/it makes you lethargic for the rest of the day) but even if they order dessert just get coffee or something and don't make a big deal about it and they won't care. If the people you are with want dessert, obviously don't try to steer them away from it since you want the lunch to last as long as possible if its going well, but just get coffee/tea or something and you will be fine.

TL;DR version of all of this: If you have dietary restrictions that limit a type of restaurant, let the recruiter know, otherwise just don't make a big deal about it and focus on talking to the attorneys that are there with you. If you are worried, try to order last so that you have an idea of what everyone else is doing. Seriously though, what you eat is not going to be a big deal, if you are interviewing in a large city, these people all have friends and family members with weird dietary restrictions and they know the drill. Keep focused on the interview part and less on the food and you will be fine.

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby MrBain_ » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:37 pm

rayiner wrote:
Dude, unless you're interviewing in a small firm in Alabama, the recruiting coordinator will have seen a dozen candidates who are vegetarians, vegans, kosher, etc, just that hiring cycle. They know how to take care of it discretely, just talk to them.


I knew i should've gotten out of the south. :shock:

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby rad lulz » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:54 pm

MrBain_ wrote:
rayiner wrote:
Dude, unless you're interviewing in a small firm in Alabama, the recruiting coordinator will have seen a dozen candidates who are vegetarians, vegans, kosher, etc, just that hiring cycle. They know how to take care of it discretely, just talk to them.


I knew i should've gotten out of the south. :shock:

He's being facetious you idiot

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby sophie316 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 3:16 pm

I can't eat gluten and it was pretty easy to deal with. I ordered carefully and often just skipped desert. Sometimes I went a bit hungry because the menu wasn't gluten free friendly. I got something when I got back to the office. No-one noticed or cared. Just don't make a big deal about it and if despite your best efforts you get served something you cant eat, eat around it to the best of your abilities.

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby formerbiglawpartner » Sat Jul 14, 2012 3:25 pm

Being a vegan or vegetarian is pretty common these days, so I agree with those who say the most important thing is not to make a big deal about ordering. This goes for EVERYONE, carnivores or not. Other than asking for salad dressing on the side, for example, don't appear like a totally picky eater. Also, be sure to order something easy to eat gracefully. I realize this should be obvious, but you wouldn't believe what people will order. You probably don't want to be shucking shrimp or having pasta sauce fall on your jacket when you are talking with future employers. You get the idea. Also, be sure to brush up on your table manners. Seriously.

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Re: Dietary Restrictions on Callback Lunches

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2012 3:42 pm

Just for kicks: true story, I knew a vegan girl who started whimpering when she found out she accidentally ate a piece of bread that had butter in it or something like that.




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