harris beach logo.JPGMany people have interviewing horror stories. But few people actually bother to send a letter to the offending firm.

One Georgetown University Law Center student did just that. After her interview with Harris Beach, the student sent a letter to James Spitz, CEO of Harris Beach:

I was looking forward to the interview until Mr. Frederick Fern and Ms. Judi Abbott Curry entered the conference room. This was the worst and most unprofessional interview that I have ever been on. Not only did Mr. Fern insult me by repeatedly stating that “the only reason” I had received the interview was because my “mom or somebody” had “called in a favor,” he then suggested that I was lazy because I did not have a job yet. “What have you been doing since July?” he kept exclaiming.

I didn’t even know how to respond. When I finally responded, he proceeded to read a document or tap on the table with his pen while I spoke. It was awful.

Harris Beach’s firm motto is “Lawyers you’ll swear by, not at.” It is worth noting that our own personal experiences with Harris Beach attorneys have been positive and professional. But perhaps these particular attorneys could have used a little more tact when dealing with a student trying to navigate these uncertain employment waters.

The full memo after the jump.


Harris Beach representatives declined to comment for this story. But the student had additional allegations:

Ms. Curry was more professional. However, she still lectured me about my inexperience in interviewing and stated that if I wanted a job in this bad economy, I needed to read up more on pharmaceuticals. She also suggested that I look for jobs with diversity initiatives who take “black females” over white Jewish guys. This surprised me. From my experience in employment law, I know that interviewers are strongly encouraged to not discuss race or gender in interviews.

This student did not receive an offer from Harris Beach.

Because the firm declined to comment, we don’t know if the firm believes the allegations of this student. If they do, we don’t know if the attorneys who participated in this interview have been reprimanded or disciplined in any way.

What we do know is that one student was all kinds of angry after her Harris Beach interview, and tried to alert the proper person at the firm. We hope that her experience was aberrational.

HARRIS BEACH — EMAIL — UNPROFESSIONAL INTERVIEWING

Dear Sir:

As the CEO and the director of diversity at Harris Beach, PLLC, it is my responsibility to inform you of the following unprofessional behavior I received during an interview for a first year associate position at Harris Beach, PLLC. I was looking forward to the interview until Mr. Frederick Fern and Ms. Judi Abbott Curry entered the conference room. This was the worst and most unprofessional interview that I have ever been on. Not only did Mr. Fern insult me by repeatedly stating that “the only reason” I had received the interview was because my “mom or somebody” had “called in a favor,” he then suggested that I was lazy because I did not have a job yet. “What have you been doing since July?” he kept exclaiming. I didn’t even know how to respond. When I finally responded, he proceeded to read a document or tap on the table with his pen while I spoke. It was awful.

Ms. Curry was more professional. However, she still lectured me about my inexperience in interviewing and stated that if I wanted a job in this bad economy, I needed to read up more on pharmaceuticals. She also suggested that I look for jobs with diversity initiatives who take “black females” over white Jewish guys. This surprised me. From my experience in employment law, I know that interviewers are strongly encouraged to not discuss race or gender in interviews.

I did not walk out of the interview and I was polite. … The associate in the room was noticeably shocked with the partners’ behavior. She even apologized to me when we left the room and she walked me out. I just don’t understand. If these partners were so disinterested in me as a candidate, then why did they call me in in the first place? I am working hard to obtain employment, and for Mr. Fern to state that “I should have a job by now” and that I wasn’t working with career services was really insulting.

Needless to say, he did not thank me for coming in, shake my hand, or even stand up as I left.

I hope this information can assist you in enforcing your diversity and hiring policies


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