In addition to reviewing your performance in the interview, you should critique the performance of the law firm.
At law schools and law firms around the country, on-campus interviewing and callback interviews are in full swing. We’ve been covering the fall (or summer?) recruiting process quite closely, offering you a mix of interview advice, humorous anecdotes, and soul-crushing reality checks.
Now it’s your turn to talk back to us….
As we mentioned yesterday, on-campus interview season has started at law schools all across the land. We’re happy to serve as your one-stop shopping center for all things OCI. Just send us an email (subject: “OCI”) about the things going on at your school that deserve more attention.
Today’s news is on the funny side. It appears that the wild and crazy kids from BYU Law are taking the stress of OCI in stride….
It’s time for on-campus interviewing. All across the country, law students are stuffing themselves into business suits and prostrating themselves on the floors of some of the nation’s finest campus hotels.
It’s a stressful time. New law students might show up at law school having done no research into the legal job market, but after one short year the kids start to wise up. They realize, some for the first time, that 90% of them will not be in the top ten percent of the class. They realize that if they don’t get one of the handful of high-paying jobs, they’ll be relegated to gladiatorial combat for the low-paying leftovers. They realize, as rising 2Ls, that maybe they should have listened to everybody who warned them about law school in the first place.
But they know they can make it all go away if they are successful during OCI. If only they can wow the law-firm interviewers who show up on campus.
The problem is that for many law students, especially those at schools ranked outside the top national institutions, their OCI fate was decided long before they shook the hand of any interviewer.
One tipster is just now realizing that, and he is understandably pissed….
Somehow, because I’m working in-house and writing this column, I’ve become the adviser to the disaffected. A correspondent now asks: “I’ve worked at a Biglaw firm for several years, am at the end of my rope, and am interviewing for an in-house job next week. How will an interview for an in-house job differ from a Biglaw interview?”
I have three reactions: First, the interview may not be different at all. The in-house lawyers who are interviewing you may be veterans of Biglaw, and they may not have changed their interview styles when they changed jobs. Being qualified and pleasant may be plenty to land the job, as it is at many large law firms that are hiring new associates wholesale.
But the interview may be different in two ways that you should consider….
As the owner of a small law firm, I’m always surprised at how many blind résumés I receive in the mail. First of all, who even uses mail anymore? Does anyone seriously think that I’m going take them more seriously because they used cream-colored, 100% cloth, 24-pound bond paper? I’m not.
But forget the résumés for a minute; for me, it’s the cover letter that tells me whether I want to interview this person. Over the years, I’ve received thousands of cover letters from lawyers and law students. I’ve gotten to the point where I really don’t need to read the résumé before I’ve made my decision.
So with that in mind, here are 11 tips for writing cover letters to potential employers.
1. Spell my frikkin’ name right. You’d be astounded at how many times candidates blow this one.…
It’s been many years, but I still remember the steps I took to land a job at a small law firm. Even though some of the methods have changed with technology, law students and potentially on-the-move associates might find this tale instructive.
After flaming out in the on-campus-interviewing process, I went to the library and looked up law firms in the Boston area. (This was before the Internet but after libraries.) I wrote down the names of dozens of firms, then went to the Martindale-Hubbell books and looked up the different firms. (Yeah, I know: quaint.) I selected lawyers whose practice areas or backgrounds or law schools or something seemed like a match for me, and I wrote down (in actual handwriting) their names and contact information. I then went back to my apartment, fired up the Wang word processor (OK, now I’m just messing with you), and entered them into a mail-merge form letter.
I then mailed dozens of nearly identical form letters (“Dear Lawyer …”) to attorneys around Boston, enclosing completely identical copies of my résumé. The letters said basically the same thing as the résumés, except in paragraph form (I used bullet points in the résumé), and asked for an interview.
Guess how well this method worked.…