Our series of interview anecdotes, which we kicked off yesterday, continues. And today’s tale illustrates that sometimes the rudeness comes not from the interview candidate, but from her hosts:
As a law student applying for summer associate jobs, I had a post-interview lunch at [a large New York law firm] with a young male associate. As is traditional, he brought along a fellow associate as his wingman. (Why is that the protocol, anyway? Is it so it doesn’t feel like some weird date? Are firms afraid the associate will tell the truth if alone with a candidate over lunch?)
Anyway, the associate and his wingman proceeded to IGNORE me the whole time, catch up on their respective lives, and talk to each other about the NFL and the various prospects for the season, like it was going out of style. I thought I was at lunch with Bob Costas and John Madden.
I made some pointed comment about how these interviews must be great for associates to catch up with each other, but it went right over their heads. Not only that, but they walked AHEAD of me through Times Square, both going and coming, yammering about the Jets — as I struggled after them in my suit and high heels. When we returned to the lobby, they just stared at me awkwardly, until I offered a “Well, unless someone upstairs needs me, I’ll be going.”
The evening air is turning crisp. The kids are back in school. You’re starting to think about where to spend Thanksgiving. That’s right, everyone: Autumn is here. (Official start of fall this year: Saturday, September 23.)
In the legal world, everyone knows what fall means: job interviews. Second- and third-year law students are interviewing for summer associate positions at law firms. Third-year law students, as well as recent law school graduates, are interviewing for prestigious judicial clerkships. (You can find out the latest clerk hiring info here.)
To celebrate the season, we’re going to share with you some of the more interesting or amusing interview stories we’ve heard. To make a contribution, please email us (subject line: “Interview Story”).
Please note that your story doesn’t have to be a tale of disaster. Stories about interviews that are weird, cute, or heartwarming are also welcome.
We’ll kick things off with this little anecdote:
I don’t mean to be the etiquette police; I’ve committed many a faux pas over the years. And I understand that not everyone grows up in privileged surroundings where they learn, from an early age, which fork is which.
But I found this lunch behavior rather odd, coming from an interview candidate who went to a top college and is now at a top law school. Presumably she has attended some formal events, semi-formal events, or business meals, where she has had the chance to observe others.
So here’s the story. We’re at an interview lunch. The candidate takes a roll from the bread basket. She butters it. She takes a bite out of it. And then she PUTS IT BACK IN THE BREAD BASKET.
None of us said anything; but everyone noticed. I could not believe my eyes.
One of the other associates at the table takes out her Blackberry — perhaps also a breach of etiquette, but quite common in this town — and taps out a message. A few seconds later, my Blackberry vibrates. I apologize for the interruption — “I’m waiting for an urgent message from a client” — and check my email.
It’s a message from my colleague across the table. Subject line: “Bread.” Message text: “Did she just do that?”
It’s time for Above the Law to perform our mitzvah for the day — what’s known in the publishing trade as “service journalism,” or “news you can use.”
Today we offer job applicants this friendly advice: After you remove a piece of bread from the communal bread basket, it is considered yours. Never return it to the basket. As John Locke might have said, by “mixing it with your labor” — by lifting the roll out of the basket, and placing it on your bread plate — you have converted that communal property into your own.
So please, when it comes to rolls in the bread basket, “no backsies.” We know that people are starving in sub-Saharan Africa. But your buttered, half-eaten roll of sourdough will never make it to them. Thank you. Cf. Seinfeld, The Muffin Tops. For those of you not familiar with that classic episode, excerpts from the script appear after the jump.
The anecdote we’re about to share with you is on the vulgar side. So if you’d rather not be exposed to such crudeness, just skip this post. (Mom and Dad, this means you.)
We heard this story recently over drinks — but we have the permission of the storyteller to publish it. So if you ever hang out with us, you need not fear that what you tell us will appear in these pages. Our default rule is that social conversations are “off the record.” If we’re in a social setting and hear something juicy we want to publish, we always ask our source for permission first.
In contrast, as we’ve previously stated, emails you send us are presumptively usable for blogging purposes. We’ll just keep you anonymous as our source (unless you ask to be identified).
Although this story may seem outrageous to you, it is NOT an urban legend. We actually did some fact-checking — just like real journalists — and verified the accuracy of this account with one of the participants.
If you have tender sensibilities, stop reading here. But if you’re willing to read a rather rude but entertaining story, then click ahead to the jump page.
Above the Law bills itself as “a legal tabloid.” And no tabloid would be complete without a sex scandal. Our scandale du jour emanates from the Windy City, home of John Marshall Law School. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
When students returned to John Marshall Law School this month, everyone was talking about the lawsuit against “The Colonel.”
Robert “Gil” Johnston, the venerable former dean of the university, was sued by his ex-mistress, Virginia Smith, whom he started dating while she was a law student in 1983. Among other claims, she said Johnston beat her, promised to marry her, then, after his wife died, married someone else.
Generations of students have noted a resemblance between Johnston, with his cotton candy white hair and goatee, and Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Sanders.
Johnston’s attorney said the former dean admits the affair, but denies any abuse on his part.
Of course, Robert Johnston isn’t the only university dean to get with a student. Affairs between law school students and faculty or administration members are, shall we say, not uncommon.
But this isn’t the end of the story. More salacious details appear after the jump.
But it might as well be one. A tipster sent us this anecdote, following up on our Cristina Schultz coverage:
Towards the end of my first year at the University of Texas School of Law, one of the first-years stopped showing up to class. But then she showed up at an end-of-year party for her section, and folks asked what she was doing.
“Modeling,” she says.
“Oh, really? Are you modeling for department stores or something?” respond her former classmates.
“Huh, that’s interesting. Like for a catalog or something?”
“Nope,” she responds calmly. “I go to hotel rooms and men masturbate while I strip down to lingerie.”
That conversation ended pretty quickly.
Lest you find this discussion crass, please bear in mind: An ambitious young woman making her way in the world, with little to trade on but her beauty and sensuality, is one of the great themes of literature. It’s in everything from Daniel Defoe’s Roxana (1724), to Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900), to Jessica Cutler’s Washingtonienne (2005)…
(Feel free to add other examples in the comments. We will add them to our reading list, since we are strangely obsessed with these narratives. Maybe we’ve been reading too much Camille Paglia.) Earlier: The Stanford Law Escort: And She Lived Happily Ever After
Sadly, today’s summer associate story isn’t as exciting as the misadventures of the amateur stripper. Rather, it’s an all-too-familiar tale: summer associate goes to firm event; summer associate gets rip-roaringly drunk; summer associate acts crazy.
But hey, we’ve got to make do with what we’ve been given. And lately you guys have been somewhat delinquent as tipsters. Tut tut!
So here’s today’s tale of idiocy and woe:
I received this story thirdhand, so I can’t vouch for it that strongly. But I’ve heard it from multiple people, and I believe it to be true, at least in broad outline. (If I’ve gotten a few details wrong, maybe your readers can correct me.) [Ed. note: Please see the comments to this post.]
It involves a summer associate at a big firm in Los Angeles (maybe Latham or O’Melveny, but I can’t remember). This guy went to a firm event and got very, very drunk. In his inebriated state, he started to hit on the wife of one of the permanent associates — very aggressively.
This behavior was out-of-character for the SA, a milquetoast-ish kid of Indian ancestry. But he was drunk off his ass, and you know how people can get when they’re hammered.
The permanent associate, after enduring the summer associate’s rude treatment of his wife for quite a while, finally told the SA — politely but firmly — to back off. At this point, the summer completely lost it. He flipped out and started yelling at the associate, repeatedly and maniacally, “I have a knife!” and “I’m going to kill you!”
And hey, guess what — the summer DIDN’T get an offer. It’s nice to know that when it comes to summer associate misbehavior, firms draw the line somewhere (e.g., death threats).
Heh. Who knew South Asian guys could be so much fun? And you thought they were only good for winning spelling bees! (Oh, and getting Republican presidential aspirants into deep doo-doo…) Earlier: Prior summer associate stories (scroll down).
Remember Cristina Leeann Schultz, a.k.a. the Stanford Law escort? The federal government alleged that she “paid off more than $300,000 in student loans, [working] under the stage name of Brazil, a call girl who roamed the country to turn ‘high-priced hottie’ tricks.”*
Perhaps Brazil — er, Ms. Schultz — is inspiring future generations of female law students to explore, um, other professional opportunities. Check out our latest summer associate story:
[A] summer associate at McGuireWoods in Richmond apparently was feeling unfulfilled by her list of assignments for the summer. So she headed down to the Paper Moon strip club for Amateur Night. For anyone who hasn’t sampled Richmond’s professional nudie scene, it’s pretty terrible. I can only imagine the horror of amateur night.
Anyway, said summer associate — I believe she goes to school at [redacted] — got onstage, did her thing… and WON. Sadly, her secret remained safe through the end of the summer, and no one ever really found out.
You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger.
And you never, ever, pull into Circuit Judge Stanley Mills’ parking spot.
Nichole Delameter spent all day Monday learning that lesson while cooling her flip-flops at the West Pasco Judicial Center.
Mills made Delameter sit in his courtroom for much of the morning after she parked in his reserved spot. He used his 2005 Cadillac to block in her 1990 Oldsmobile until he left at the end of the day.
Some people accuse the judge of overreacting. But let’s view his actions in context:
For the second time in two weeks, the Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge arrived for morning court to find another vehicle in his spot. And just like last week, he pulled behind it, parking perpendicular to the offending vehicle and blocking it in.
Last week he didn’t move his car, the judge said Monday, until the errant driver got this lecture in court: “There’s two perks to the job,” Mills said. “I have my own bathroom, and I have my own parking spot, and you’re not going to get to use either.”
Darn tootin’, Your Honor! And here’s our favorite detail:
It was 3:30 p.m. in the parking lot when remorse gave way to anger. While Judge Mills was still working, his judicial assistant kept moving the Cadillac to let other judges get in and out of their spots. But Delameter’s car was still stuck.
* Larry Sonsini reminds us of why we should use the phone, and NOT email, if we’re going to do something sketchy. Also, his spelling and typing skills aren’t perfect. (But by the standards of Biglaw partners of his generation, he’s in the 95th percentile — assuming he typed this all himself.) [WSJ Law Blog]
* Justice Thomas is already hiring clerks for October Term 2008. Congratulations to Patrick Strawbridge, CT’s latest hire (as far as we know; if you know more, please do share). [Prettier Than Napoleon]
* We agree with Michael Dimino: “The more frivolous the complaints, the better the job.” But redweld cuts still hurt like hell. [PrawfsBlawg]
* The indefatigable Ann Althouse doesn’t sleep with her laptop. We’re surprised! [Althouse]
* Going through a Wendy’s drive-thru while naked can get you arrested. You didn’t know that, did you? [Concurring Opinions]
* Raffi Melkonian isn’t quite as down on clerking as we originally suggested. [Crescat Sententia]
No, this is not some random piece of spam we received. You will look in vain for words like “Loteria,” “NEXT OF KIN,” or “V1agra.”
It’s actually a cover letter that was received by a major legal staffing and recruiting firm, from a hopeful applicant seeking placement assistance. Here it is:
I know very clearly & absolutely before to submit my submissional application for the post-recruited requirements that. my status quos will be completely approved or so ratified based on the recruitmental requirements of criteria, as for I graduated from Agro-forestry Realms. Meanwhile I am highly & hugely trying at my best efforts to post for this vacancy with heavily long-desired rayhopes that based on my supreme graymatters plusing with my well-accumulated experiences in working for several foreign-based firms as well as projects, & I have accrued a lot of skills or so specialization in various matters & manners…
I make risks to submit for the aforesaid post with long-desired hopes that you will see through my sensitively & briliantly particular status quos, & I deplore you all to give me a chance to work for your corporation. I confirm with you that I will not make you disappointed & I will prove my supreme liase abilities, hugely Graymatters-accessible triumphancies… & my superiorated talentedness to do my job at excellent duties, & your Firm will obtain heavily & hugely, giantly benificiaries, money, time, skills, to harness for any foremost authorized spheres or so realms in terms of commercial dealings or so business’s affairs kinds of transaction…& much more things if you see far enough to employ me.
Meanwhile I want to use the ever worldwide well-known Prophet’s saying named Archimes 770 BC that he ever said “give me a firm place to stand & I will move the Earth “. For the time being, I am highly awaiting for your far-reaching & well-judged determinative resolutions. I am highly awaiting for your carefully chosen assessment to my special case, & I hope to work for your Firm for a long & sustainable terms.
Yours Faithfully, XXXXX
Contrary to your expectations, this letter did not originate in Nigeria. Based on the applicant’s name, which we redacted, we’re guessing that he (or she?) is from southeast Asia. Notes of Anticipatory Defense:
1. Please do not implore us for being cruel or insensitive in posting this letter. As we could tell from the email chain that transmitted it to us, it’s already making the rounds among lawyers and legal headhunters around the country. We’re simply providing access to it on an equal-opportunity basis.
2. We do not intend to demean the contributions that immigrants — especially immigrants from southeast Asia (like our parents and other relatives of ours) — have made to the United States. Their work ethic and gray matter are impressive. We wish them the best of luck as they circulate their submissional applications here in the U.S., full of rayhopes for a better future.
We are merely using this letter to make a modest point: A thesaurus, placed in the wrong hands, is a very dangerous thing.
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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