Law school rejection letters have been sent to even the best of us, and most are quick to pick up their bruised egos and call it a day. But there are others out there who are unable to move on with their lives. Their dreams have been crushed, and they want nothing more than to exact revenge against the admissions dean who destroyed their imagined future in the only way they know how: by pointing out the dean’s grammatical and typographical errors in the rejection letter itself, and in other academic works found online.
If you’re wondering what correspondence like that would look like, wonder no more, because we got our hands on it, and boy, is it entertaining…
We’re in the middle of law firm interview season. We’ve offered you both cheerful and depressing takes on the summer associate recruiting process.
Speaking of depressing things, interviews are frequently followed by rejection. Trust me, I know; I’ve received many rejections over the years. I recently contributed one of my “favorite” rejection letters to an online compilation (see page 27 of the pamphlet, or page 15 of the PDF, reprinted with the permission of Justice Scalia).
That was a kind and gracious rejection letter, which is what you’d expect from a genteel institution like the U.S. Supreme Court. When Biglaw firms turn your dreams to shame, they aren’t quite as nice….
There are very few things more disheartening than rejection. Whether you’re the dork in high school trying to work up the courage to ask that special someone to go on a date, applying to school, or looking for a job, no one wants to be rejected. And in an attempt to calm your nerves, loved ones will often say, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
But all the good thoughts and best wishes in the world don’t provide much comfort when you’re searching for your first law job and everyone else is doing the exact same thing (not to mention they went to much better law schools than you did). While it may not be the end of the world, rejection can really hurt. The mere fear of rejection can paralyze some, and if there’s constant rejection, it’s not uncommon for depression — or in my case at the moment, extreme pessimism — to start kicking in.
Knowing this fact, employers generally attempt to soften the blow of rejection to the furthest extent possible. They say comforting things like “you are highly qualified” or “have impressive training.” If they really liked you, you may even get a more personal statement that actually acknowledges something in your résumé, which at least means that they read it and tried to make believe that they cared.
In this day and age, the rejection letter is few and far between. Most law school graduates who are desperately searching for employment have only their empty inboxes to serve as their cold, harsh dose of reality. Truth be told, some even long to receive those uncommon rejection letters, if only in recognition of their continued existence on this planet as a human being with a piece of paper that’s worth six figures and then some.
But if you were to receive one of those magical, mystical rejection letters, wouldn’t it make you feel better if that letter were so riddled with typos that it would be hard to believe that it had been sent to you by a Biglaw firm?
Elections have consequences, and right now I’m waiting for Republicans to start paying the piper. I’m looking at you, Ted Nugent. You declared, nay promised, that if Obama was reelected, you’d either be dead or in jail within a year. Well, tick tock buddy, we’re all waiting.
In fact, there were many Republicans who promised to do all sorts of horrible things should Barack Obama win. And apparently some of them are following through. Nothing makes a political statement about the vibrancy of our democracy than petulantly firing people when democracy doesn’t go your way.
And heck, we don’t even know how many people will be “not hired” because, “Grrr… we have to pay for our employees’ health care because we were too partisan or stupid to support a single-payer system that would have shifted the burden of health insurance away from private employers.”
At least, we won’t know unless they tell us. Which, incredibly, one solo practitioner apparently did, in a rejection letter to somebody who applied in response to her Craigslist ad. It’s easily the best post-election rejection letter we’ve seen….
The rejection letter is a lost art. Heck, in this day and age, most “rejection letters” are simply the cold silence of an empty inbox. That’s how I roll. It’s so much easier to just not respond to a request than to go through the whole, “Thank you for your interest in replacing Elie at Above the Law. Unfortunately, I’m not dead yet.”
Nowadays, you have to feel lucky to even receive a perfunctory rejection letter. Whether it’s “the position has been filled” or “we’ll keep your résumé on file” or “you should have included a picture of your breasts,” few people bother to let applicants know even fake reasons for why they didn’t get hired.
Apparently, the only people who still take the time to send meaningful rejection letters are federal judges. Over the past few weeks, tipsters have sent in a few from judges that at least try to give rejected applicants some sense of what happened.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised about our judiciary’s attention to such details. After all, we’re talking about people who will write long-ass arguments about issues even when their analysis has been “rejected”….
What the hell happened to the ding letter? When I was coming up, you would interview for a position, and maybe get a callback (inclusive of a nice lunch). If the firm was interested, you’d get an offer, if not, a thin envelope with a “ding” letter. I collected mine like badges of some sort. Some bar in Manhattan used to give you a free drink for every ding letter.
Eventually, I grew up a bit and threw them away. I had no need for them, and they were simply letters of rejection.
Over the years, something happened to the common ding letter: it disappeared. Now, you’re lucky if a company informs you that they received your application packet. Some go all in and state that they’ll keep your information on file and if someone finds you attractive enough, they will give a call, but don’t hold your breath. After talking to many applicants and folks in the job market, my real question is this: “what the hell happened to common decency?”
On a nice, lazy, summer Friday, it’s good to know that rudeness still exists this world.
Today’s example of questionable behavior comes from a midsized Midwestern law firm. Yeah, apparently Midwestern manners don’t extend to how you treat people while you are rejecting them. This firm decided to use its rejection letters as an opportunity to market its new iPhone/iPad application.
It’s an app for people looking for work, of course…
Say this for lawyers: they get around to things. Sure, the process might take a while, much longer than one would reasonably expect. But at the end of the day, lawyers do their paperwork.
Apparently, somebody at Squire Sanders in the U.K. has been catching up on old emails. Really old emails. Like, job application emails that were sent during the height of the recession.
I bet people who applied to Squire Sanders in 2009 thought that the firm had forgotten about them, but that is not the case! The firm just needed to get its ducks in a row. Now that it’s had time to full assess the economic landscape, the firm has decided that it’s no longer hiring….
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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When you talk to a prospective lateral about your firm during their first meeting, the conversation can go deep, sideways, and in circles. There is so much to share and discuss. What path of a dialogue can you follow to get better odds of a favorable conclusion?
Consider this template as a model you can use to discuss your firm’s opportunity. This simplifies the conversation and gives you a mental framework so the discussion is meaningful, relevant and moves things forward.
The Four P’s
In my transition from retained corporate executive search to legal search, I saw that there were many levels of complexity in the move of a partner transitioning from firm A to firm B. In placing an executive in a corporation, it was simple because of the linear nature of relationships in corporations. In a law firm, because of the multi-layered aspect of the interdependent relationships that each partner must manage with others, the dialogue is much more involved.
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