Remember the not-so-little secret we let you in on the other day: that all big law firms are pretty much the same?*
If you question that conventional wisdom, consider this interview tale:
I walked into an on-campus interview with a prominent DC firm. The interview room had a big window, and the interviewer must have been relying all day on the natural light coming through the window. So he had forgotten to turn the overhead light on. However, my interview was in the early evening…. The result was a dark room, with only one light on: a desk lamp, which happened to be shining directly into my face. It felt like an interrogation.
The interviewer himself didn’t help matters. This partner looked like he hadn’t slept in a week. He was dour and unfriendly. It was one of those lazy interviews, where the interviewer just lets you ask questions. So I asked my litany of innocuous, and boring, questions.
After a few, he tilted his head and said, “You know, none of those questions will do anything to distinguish our firm from any other major firm in DC.” Taken aback, and a bit annoyed, I replied, “Well then, what really does set your firm apart?”
He paused in thought. Then he said, “Not much really. I can’t think of anything.” I pressed him, asking, “Why did you decide to join [this firm]?” “Oh, I don’t know. A bunch of my friends went there, so I went too.”
Hey, at least he was honest…
The interview went on for about ten more painful minutes. As I was about to leave, the interviewer said, “You know, I guess if there’s one thing that really does set our firm apart, it’s the people. The people here are friendly and collegial and down-to-earth.”