Ed. note: We have nothing against headhunters or legal recruiters. To the contrary, we’re generally big fans of them — especially the ones who advertise on ATL, making this website possible.
But it can’t be denied that some of them can be real pains in the a**. If you have a headhunter horror story to share, feel free to submit it by email (subject line: “Headhunter Horror Story”).
We’ll kick off the series with this fantastic story, which a reader just submitted. It’s long, but worth it — highly entertaining, suspenseful, and written with real panache. Enjoy!
Sure, we’ve all had annoying recruiters call. Many of us have decided to accept a free lunch from these yahoos from time to time to garner some legal gossip. I was not such a person until yesterday, and it turned out to be an utter disaster.
Part 1: The romancing.
A recruiter, let’s call him Bob, has been calling me for over a year. I have blown him off 1000 times and told him I am happy at my mid-sized firm. My salary and bonus structure is good, and as a third-year lawyer, I’m really practicing law. (I’ve never even summarized a deposition.)
One day, we had plans to go to lunch at a nearby seafood restaurant, but I canceled at the last minute. Still, he calls every few weeks about some new position at some major firm looking for a person exactly like me (which is doubtful, considering my less than stellar law school grades).
Part 2: The lunch invitation.
Bob calls me Monday and says that Jones Day is interested in seeing my resume. Again, he tells me what amazing experience I have, blah blah, and asks me to give him my resume. He also says he still wants to take me to lunch. I say, “Let’s go tomorrow.” He says ok and that he will call me Tuesday morning to finalize plans.
Part 3. The planning.
First thing Tuesday morning, Bob calls and asks me where I’d like to go. I say that I have no idea, he presses me to choose, and I say, “Well, let’s redo our old plans and go to [the seafood restaurant]. I’ve never been there, so I don’t know if it’s good.” He says, “It’s…ok, that’s good. Let’s go there. I wouldn’t want to take you to Jason’s Deli or anything, and there’s not much more over there. Let’s meet at noon.”
Part 4. The falling apart.
At 11:30, Bob leaves a voice mail that he needs to move our lunch to 12:30. At about 12, he calls again to ask if I got the message. He then says, “I wish I could say that some big negotiation came up, but the truth is, I forgot my ATM pin number and it locked me out from getting cash after I tried three different numbers. So I’ll have to use credit for our lunch. But I’ll see you at 12:30.” He then describes what he’ll be wearing.
Read the rest, after the jump.
Part 5. As I ignore the foreshadowing…
At 12:30, I walk into the seafood restaurant and realize it’s a nicer restaurant than I expected. I reflected back to our phone conversation and started thinking Bob might not really want to spend too much on lunch. Hm…
Bob arrives. I say, “You know, I didn’t realize this was such a nice restaurant. And frankly, I’d be just as happy with a nice bowl of chili from Jason’s Deli.” Surprisingly, he responds, “Oh, are you sure? I’d hate for you to think I’m a miser.” So we walk over to Jason’s Deli.
Part 6. Nervous.
I’m not nervous; he is. As we walk down the sidewalk, he keeps switching from my right side to my left side and back again. Weird. We order our bowls of chili. All the while, he’s talking to me about how he went to USC and played football and baseball there. (By the way, he looks like a gray, fat Jeff Bagwell in a bad blue blazer.)
During our small talk, OJ Simpson comes up. He then tells me that he’s from California, that he knows OJ (“a helluva nice guy”), and that the reason OJ wasn’t convicted was because they tried him “downtown where all the black people live, and they had already decided they’d never convict a black man.” Then he tells me about how stupid Furman was for “saying he had never used the word n******. Everyone says the word n*****.” He drops the n-bomb a few more times as I tried to change the subject.
Part 7. Getting shadier.
When we get to the end of the line where you pay, he says, “Let’s get our chili first” and points. Only our chili isn’t ready yet. The cashier says, “Sir, sir, sir… I can ring you up now.” It was awkward and looked like he was avoiding paying for the lunch.
So he is at the cash register, and I’m up where you pick up the food. I wait and wait and wait, and he’s not coming. I turn around and glance over. He’s leaning forward saying something to the cashier. She’s holding his card and shaking her head. I open my wallet and pay for the lunch as he apologizes profusely about how this has never happened before and that it must have locked his whole card out when he didn’t use the right pin number.
Part 8. Uncomfortable lunch.
I feel like I’m eating with a used car salesman. He tells me all about him. He was a lawyer for 35 years at a big firm doing primarily oil and gas transactional work. One day, he realized that he constantly got calls from people asking him where they should go to work, so he should turn it into a career. However, when I start talking to him about some oil and gas litigation and arbitration I’ve worked on, he has no idea what I’m talking about.
He tells me 3 or 4 times how pretty I am, tells me I look 21 (I actually turn 31 in a week), asks if I’m married and if I have kids, and yes, asks me about my practice and tells me how advanced I am. He also gives me some fairly useful tips about my resume. He has almost zero details about the alleged Jones Day position.
By the way, during the lunch, no fewer than half a dozen partners from my firm also ate at Jason’s Deli. Great. I’m risking the job that I actually like to have lunch–paid for with my own money–with a total douchebag.
Part 9. The Climax (for Bob, anyway).
As we leave and he loudly reminds me to email my resume to him, I stick out a hand to shake his hand. Instead, he hugs me. For a long time. Tightly.
Part 10. Denouement.
Today I googled Bob. Turns out old Bob was disbarred a few years ago, because he plead guilty to theft under $50. This was after his license had previously (twice, in fact) been suspended. Also, he worked at his own solo practice (not a big firm) doing probate work (not oil and gas transactional work). He has also filed bankruptcy 5 times, including a chapter 7 seven years prior to his disbarment.
I checked my wallet. He doesn’t appear to have stolen anything (other than my dreams of free lunch and legal gossip).