20220622 Big Law Interview Tips and Law Firm Interview Preparation A Complete Guide for Law Students and Attorneys
[00:00:00] Okay, so we're gonna get started. This particular topic is this webinar actually is if you are here today, you're as, you're pretty lucky. The material in this, I used to get probably, thousands and maybe tens of thousands of people jobs throughout the past several decades.
And and this is an article that or a webinar based an article that was one of the first articles that I actually ever wrote for attorneys. And when we put it up online a long time ago I remember it was really the only article there was about interviewing law firms for a long period of time.
We were actually the first company ever to put articles up about it, cuz people wanted to keep the information secret if you can believe it. So this a webinar of this particular topic I'm pretty excited about what I will do today is I'll give the webinar in the tips.
I'm gonna go through this fairly quickly because there's a lot of information and I'm gonna skip different parts and I wanna make it as relevant as possible. And then afterwards we'll take a quick break and then I will do questions about the webinar or any career questions you have.
And since this is a live webinar we should be able [00:01:00] to cover quite a bit today when your questions and so forth. The first thing just, and I'm gonna skip through this, but lot of people go into interviews and don't do well. And and some people go into interviews of jobs that they want to get and they don't get the jobs and other people often don't really know what's going on when they don't get positions and it can be very difficult.
If you're if you have a good background and you're not getting the positions you want, a lot of people get very discouraged when they go in and get positions when they try to get interviews different points in time you can get different receptions from different firms and different markets.
This is just a kind of an aside, but I'm from Detroit. And I remember when I was trying to interview with firms there, I was having a in not an easy time getting, I was getting callbacks, but not an easy time getting offers. And then I was go, I would go to New York or Los Angeles and getting offers very easily and with big firms, better firms.
And so a lot of cases, you, the jobs you get can be dependent on the market and the reception you get can be dependent on the and the the timing and the economy and your [00:02:00] practice area and all sorts of things. But the idea is you wanna do really is as well as you can when you go into interviews and that's what I'm gonna talk to you about today, and this is a very important topic, because, when you're going into an interview, if you do the right things, your odds might go up five or six times to get it compared to not doing the right things.
So a lot of what you do when you go into interviews is based on your preparation, your the knowing what to do and what not to do, knowing your audience and a bunch of different things that can be very helpful for you. There's a lot of feelings that people go through and they don't get interviews.
And I don't, again, wanna talk too much about all this kind of, I'm skipping through a lot of this, but sometimes when people don't get interviews, they. They'll do things like they'll go to business school or they'll try to get job when they don't get jobs following interviews or they'll get jobs in other practice settings or in a lot of cases, the reason you're not getting interviews is because are getting jobs after interview is because you're doing something wrong and that's what I'm gonna talk about today.
And I'm gonna talk about the things that you really need to do, right? In order to get interviews and [00:03:00] and rather than talk about what people necessarily do wrong. So the first thing is you do need to prepare for interviews and by preparing that means you need to learn everything you possibly can about the place you're interviewing with.
It means you need to learn about the attorneys you're interviewing with. You need to learn what they spend their time doing. And and you need to learn about the firm and the types of cases it handles, or the types of transactions that handles. You need to learn the types of clients.
It represents you, you really need to read and study information very closely. Now you are studying this information from the standpoint of being a supporter of the firm and not going in and finding fault with them. So you may not like the salaries. You may not like their, all their clients.
You may not like their, the types of people they represent. You may not represent. You may not like those things, but that's not really your job to judge them and go in and not get the job. Your job really, when you prepare is to, is no differently than preparing to If you were preparing to meet a client or something you have to go in and [00:04:00] understand the client.
So I've had I've hired lots of very good attorneys to work for our company representing us, or to represent me before I've hired all sorts of different companies in the past. And the best ones are always prepared. They walk in and they know everything they possibly can about you.
And and they're able to quickly take your side and understand where you're coming from. And the people that aren't prepared are just not good. They're not good. And anybody that hires someone that's not prepared. If you hire an attorney, that's not prepared. If you hire a to represent you, if you hire a doctor that's not prepared and doesn't have the ability to diagnose your problems, if you hire anybody that's a problem.
So you have to prepare and preparing is not necessarily knowing what the salary is, which that's just, what's in it for you. Preparing is knowing what the firm wants, knowing the kind of people they want, knowing the type of matters they represent, understanding their business as much as you can, and being prepared to ask questions.
And that's really a lot of it it's reading news articles. You can about them. Anything you can find out to prepare and about the people and the culture and so forth [00:05:00] is going to help you now. I've dealt with a lot of very stupid people in my careers. And I'm not talking about necessarily attorneys.
I'm just talking about in general. And I don't mean that as an insult to them. But a lot of people will hear a firm's name and they'll say, oh, I would never work there because I heard such and something bad about such and such a person and the per the firm could have hundreds of attorneys in it. Every practice group and every firm's different.
So preparing doesn't mean that you heard someone that worked 3000 hours there, or you heard someone that sued the firm because of who knows why, or that's not preparing and decided you don't like the firm or hearing that there was something negative about the firm or hearing something that was negative about one office that's not preparing.
Everybody or every organization has enemies. Every organization has supporters. Every organization goes through ups and downs. Every organization has problems makes mistakes. Every law firm almost every law firm gets sued from malpractice for making mistakes. Every, [00:06:00] everybody out there has negatives and your job is not to find all the negatives of the firm and reach judgements about them.
Before you go in there your job is to really find the positives about them and figure out why you like them and figure out what's good about them. And that's what preparing us preparing is finding out what you like about them. Once you get an interview, your job is to get a job. You can talk to people and come up with conclusions about the firm later that it's a bad place or you don't like it, or it's not gonna work for you.
And it very well may not. That's fine. But once you get an interview, your job is to go in and get the, in the job and to prepare. I've seen so many people pass up incredible opportunities with firms that Would've just been the best fit possible for them. And then their career just doesn't work out because they don't prepare properly or they prepare and they, when they prepare in a way that they're looking for negative information, just because a firm doesn't pay a lot of money.
Doesn't make any sense. It's not always the best way to judge the firm because your ability to stay there in the long term. And there's all sorts of other factors that can matter. So a lot of firms people [00:07:00] are really not prepared when they interview and and because they're not prepared they don't do well.
So I'm gonna just go through some questions that firms will typically ask in interviews and very different people ask. And I'll talk to you about the responses. But the first thing, I just wanna say all your preparation what you're doing is you're finding reasons to like the firm and to like the job and to like the opportunity to get enthusiastic about it.
You're not finding reasons to, to not like the firm. And if you do that then people are gonna see it on your face. It's gonna come across and they're gonna pick it up instantly. The people can read your thoughts. When I say they can read your thoughts if you have a negative outlook towards the firm just a few slip remarks that you make will give yourself away very quickly.
And people are very smart. And one of the things I, and I've told this example before, but My dad was in the CIA. And he was meeting with someone once about I don't know, going to talk to someone that he was, trying to get information from or something. They didn't know what he was doing.
And he was talking to his boss and he was [00:08:00] saying negative things about the person and the guy interrupted and said, don't think it, or you'll show it. And and that's true. And I thought about that instance, because if you think something negative about someone it's gonna come across in your body language, it's gonna come across in your enthusiasm.
And so your job when you're preparing is not to find negative information and things you don't like it's to psych yourself up. And that's what preparation is. Now. Preparation's also gonna be about how you answer the questions I'm gonna go through, but just remember when you're preparing for an interview, you're, you are not looking for negative information, just because a law firm has some bad reviews on a website, or people have said bad things about it doesn't mean that's the be all end up because I'll tell you every employer has bad things said about them.
And many times. And I think this is funny. But the employers that have the worst things said about them are often the best employers because they have the highest standards and they're upsetting people with those high standards. And that's not always the case. Of course, there's really bad places to work, but but you just have to be very careful.
So the, one of the questions you're always going to get and and you may not get it from every [00:09:00] firm, but everyone gets this question a lot in your career is why you decided to interview for the position. And there's lots of ways to say that I was interviewing a woman wants to be not too long ago to work in our company.
I said, why did you decide to interview here? And she said, oh, because I did a search on the Google and you came up first when I searched for legal recruiter or something, which I thought was insane. But people will literally give reasons like that. They may say, oh, a recruiter contacted me about it.
Or I have, I, I saw you had an opening and really to know. To give a meaningful answer to a position like this, or a question like this. You have to really understand why the firm is attractive. And that means when you're preparing, you have to see how you would fit in how you think it would be a good opportunity for you.
And I need to be really clear with everyone that's watching this today because it's a very important point. When I go through and I've looked at the placements that, that I make and and have made throughout my career. And I look at them and there's a story, which for most of them the majority of them, meaning I would [00:10:00] say more than 75% are and maybe even more than that are people that are moving up, meaning.
The reasons for going to the next firm or the next employer are they're moving up and they're improving themselves in some place. So they may be moving from a major firm to a smaller firm, but because they're moving to a smaller firm because they really want to do trials in their practice area.
And the smaller firm's really good at this practice area and trials, they may be moving to a larger firm cause they wanna work on more sophisticated matters. They may be moving to a market because they wanna settle down and in a firm that's in their hometown and develop a network so they can get bus.
I don't know, but there's always something very positive about the reason they're moving, because people do not wanna hire people that are negative or have negative reasons. I'm moving because I'm losing my job. I'm moving because there's I don't like my firm. So when people ask you why you wanna move, you have to really state why the firm you're moving to is a move up and why it's an improvement in your [00:11:00] existing situation.
And you need to convince the person of that, that you're talking to and everyone and if you do that then they're going to like you. So if a firm has a, is coming out with a new practice area, they have I don't know, there are a litigation firm going into corporate work and you wanna, and they're interviewing corporate associates to work with a new corporate partner.
You talk about how it's a great, grand floor opportu or ground floor opportunity. If they're a firm that's moving into a huge firm with a huge corporate practice. And you're a firm with a smaller practice. You talk about how you wanna work at a bigger firm. You have to have all sorts of reasons that articulate what makes that firm better.
And every firm that you look at, I don't care what it is. If it's a one person office, it could be, I want more independence. If it's a thousand person office, it's I wanna work with more attorneys and get exposed to more things. If it's a general practice firm and you're a specific you're working in a specific practice, then you say, because I wanna work in general practice and I'm don't wanna do, every firm has something that you can articulate that makes it good.
And and [00:12:00] really a lot of times, the best way of doing that is to, to talk to people if people inside the firm and really come up with reasons that things that make the firm special and unique. And and this is very basic. So I was I was at an admissions event at the I don't know, where was it?
University of Chicago, the like couple weeks ago. And and it was one of my, it was just anyway, it doesn't matter. But there was an admissions officer talking to a group of kids that we were looking at the school and all schools that have, that are pretty difficult to get into when they read your essays, they wanna know that your essay, they can just white.
This person was saying people could white out different areas and it could be any school and they wanna know why you like them, why what's special. So if you wanna work at a special, if you wanna work at a certain type of law firm, you need to talk about what makes that law firm unique. What makes it special?
What makes it what makes it a good place to work? Not just why you wanna work at that law firm, because they're good in corporate or they're good in litigation. You [00:13:00] wanna work there because you've had a longstanding in interest in this type of work. You love that. This person's there.
You've heard really good stories about how they're, I don't know, there's opportunity for people like you. I, whatever the reasons are, you have to be able to articulate specific reasons about why you like that employer because if you don't someone else will. And I certainly when I talk to, when I interview people, like I it's Often insane.
It's people come in and they're like, why do you wanna work here? I want more freedom. What do you mean? You want more freedom? What does that mean? And they'll say I don't wanna I don't want to have to do this or this and it doesn't, that's not, those are not good reasons.
Your reasons have to relate to something substantive, meaning they have to relate to something that makes the firm unique or something that makes the people there unique or something that makes the culture unique that couldn't apply to any firm. It actually applies to them. And often you're gonna learn that when you talk to people that are there.
So those are that's often useful if people there, but it's also about reading reviews and and other things, but looking for the positives and [00:14:00] not necessarily looking for the negatives and the negatives are often positives. Just remember that also when you decide to, when firms asking you why you're interviewing they want you to say nice things about them, and they want you to frame your reasons for wanting to interview them as a way that you're trying to improve, meaning you're trying to get better and the firm represents some sort of improvement to in your career.
And that's very attractive to them. And then the law, firm's also looking to see what you say of your reasons for potentially moving. So if your reasons for moving are, I'm not getting any work. It's not a very nice the people there. Aren't nice. The if you're not getting enough work, that means probably that you're not doing good work and people aren't giving you work.
If you see the people that aren't nice, it means you're not getting along with the people there. So you have to be very clear about ways that look positive as opposed to negative. No one wants to hear negative things. You want people to leave and feel upbeat and good about themselves after talking to you now, I'm sure, From your personal life and other people that they're people you meet, then you feel good [00:15:00] and they're people you meet and you feel bad.
And I, I don't know why that is and why people affect you that way, but that's just how it is. And so you wanna walk into interviews and make people feel good, but if you make them feel bad or you're drawing things down, or you're thinking negative thoughts about them that they're seeing, or you're not seeing positive things about them, or you're just making up crap that's not coming across in a really good fashion, then people aren't gonna be excited about you.
You wanna be able to talk about things that are gonna make them feel good. So talking about the type of work that they do, and you want to be exposed to that, talking about wanting increased responsibility if that's available is a good thing. Talking if the firm's growing, saying you want to be part of a growing firm where things are exciting talking about that they have a lot of work.
That's exciting. And talking about that it's a place you can bring in business is exciting. You just have to talk about things that are gonna be positive and are gonna make people like you, and you should never say anything negative about your existing firm. You should you should talk about the fact that the firm you're [00:16:00] interviewing with is a very good opportunity and that's really for you and for what you're looking for.
And they have to be believable reasons, and they're only gonna be believable if you spend the time preparing. And by preparing that means asking questions and that, I reading reading about the firm, talking to people if you can and all that sort of thing, and that's Really, I think one of, one of the most powerful things you can do the other thing I would say is and this is related to this, but I have of this matrix that I may talk about later, but it's there's reasons that law firms hire people.
There's reasons they interview people, but most people will wanna hire people that like them and and are interested in them. And people do not wanna invest in people that don't like them or aren't interested in them. So if someone doesn't seem like they like you or are not interested in you, then that's probably not good.
You wouldn't. If you went out on a if you met someone that could be your friend or your romantic partner or whatever, and you met them and they seem completely uninterested in you you probably wouldn't reciprocate either. So it's the same thing with people hiring, just think [00:17:00] about it that way.
And the other thing I would think about too, and this is I'm trying to follow a structure here, but this is very important is it's just your mindset when you go into any interview that your mindset needs to be related to trying to make the, trying to pretend like you're a lawyer and which you are, and and a client is interviewing you because you're gonna be a representative of that firm.
So what do you want, how would you want to be seen as their lawyer now that doesn't mean you have to be super polished. If that's not your nature, that doesn't mean you have to be super talkative. If that's not your nature, you may be the, whatever your nature is, but what do you, how do you wanna portray yourself and what do you, what kind of lawyer do you want to be seen as, because that's what they're hiring.
They're hiring someone to represent them. And they know that at some point, if you do well there or maybe you're a senior attorney already that you're gonna be talking to clients and so forth, and they wanna portray a certain brand and a certain and portray a, portray in a certain [00:18:00] way.
So law firms will always many times ask you what you know about their, about them. And and and you need to be very well versed in the firm when you go in and really able to talk and detail about that. If they ask you, what do you know about them? You talk about Different matters that they've worked on their clients, their the size of the department, the offices.
If they ask you something like that and you can suddenly give them a bunch of information, they're gonna be very impressed. So it's just like that when you're meeting with a client or you're going into court, if a good attorney goes into court and a judge asks them a question they, there may be thousands of documents that, that attorney is supposed to be aware of.
And the attorney needs to be able to respond to that. And know, and and so it's the same thing when you're asked about it and, questions by a legal hiring organization, you wanna make sure that you're well prepared and well prepared answers. Just really show that you're good at what you do.
So when a law firm asks you, you need to have information. You don't wanna, when again, when a law firm is asking you what you [00:19:00] know about them, you certainly do not wanna parrot back negative information. You wanna parrot back positive information. And and it's important to be prepared cuz a lot of times a lot of people will just give general answers to these questions and it doesn't help them.
And and so you have to be very careful. You have to know about the firm and have to know how it applies to you. And hopefully you've in a way that is very positive. It makes it look like the place is gonna be a good fit for you because people, when they're interviewing you and they're asking you these questions, they wanna see if you are interested in them.
The last thing a law firm wants to do is if a law firm has a hundred applications for a job and it's interviewing five people, the last thing it wants to do is hire someone that doesn't look like they're gonna take the job if they apply. And the other people that have applied will end up going somewhere else, it wants to hire someone that's going to be do a good job.
Okay. So let's see. I talked about that attributes fit in and So you should start preparing for your interviews in advance and reading about the firm. And the other thing I just wanna, again, bring up is we get [00:20:00] interviews for people, several interviews a day. And a lot of times people will turn down interviews, like just based on the fact that, oh, they heard something negative about the firm, or it doesn't look like the firm is gonna pay enough.
Or I don't like to where the firm's offices are, even though that you may be able to work remotely. Who knows, but you just have to be very careful before you ever do that and you have to learn about things and look for positive information and that not negative. Then the other thing that's very important is your goal and your goal.
Is to get the job. So people go into interviews and they think, oh, I should ask all these questions and they'll ask questions and talk themselves out of the job, or they'll hear things and not get the job, or they'll learn some bad information, decide that they're not gonna prepare well for the interviews.
Your goal with every interview is to get a job. It, a law firm loves a candidate that says I have three offers. Let me think about this. This is a way, if you get offers, you're a much more valuable candidate than if you're waiting, offering. Once you get an offer, you go into your interviews with a sense of [00:21:00] confidence and you just do better.
So you're better off going into things and getting offers. You should never express any types of concerns about the firm during your interview. You shouldn't ask negative questions. You shouldn't ask things that make people uncomfortable. You need to be very careful because there's the way to get a job is not to pay attention to the negative information about the employer.
The way to get the job is to really figure out positive information. And and to understand that everyone has a point of view and whatever the information is, and just get the job. Once you get the job, you can go back and you can research things more and figure out what the information means.
You can ask things about it. You can really get the job. You can make a lot of progress. And one of the things that I like to ask is when you do get the job. It's always useful to try to find out like what's happened to the people that have worked there in the past.
That's one of the things I like to do are they doing well and what's going on with them? And what what did the firm teach them and, how is their career after that or what happens to people in similar situations to you? So getting that kind of information can be very positive and it can show you [00:22:00] what's going to happen to you probably as well when you go there or may happen.
So don't go into an interview and not be ready to get the job. Another thing is you need to know your strength. Knowing your strengths are important. One of the things that I notice is most, by the way you talk, and by the way you deliver information about your level of confidence and so forth most firms already have a good idea of what your strengths are.
You can certainly talk about that in your resumes or your transaction sheets and things. And and you should be prepared to talk about your strengths and think positively about yourself. But one, one thing about strengths, I think is a lot of times people will go into interviews and they'll say, I got this award.
I got this award, I did this. I was the best at this and so forth. And a lot of times that's not always the most attractive type of thing. People like people that are very excited about work and their achievements and things, but at the same time you're often gonna do much better if you go in.
And and you don't feel like you need to brag typically that, that works a lot better, but [00:23:00] understanding that you have value to offer and being self-confident is important. The screening interview really is you go into a screening interview uh, and there's two different ways that happens in most cases.
Most people, they get screening interviews will get another interview more than 50%. It's probably even higher than that. And the idea of a screening interview is the law firm is really just making sure that you're worth investing a full day or a half day of their time in.
And so you may go into the screen and interview and just be a complete mess not interested, not present well, not and that sort of thing, which case they won't proceed, but in most cases if you're enough prepared you will you'll do just fine. And the screen interview is really almost many cases, just a quick meeting, greet to see You know how you're gonna do.
And and most law firms that are doing screen interviews are just trying to get a sense if you could be a good fit, they're not gonna do a really deep dive. A lot of case, a lot of times they'll be done, even though the recruiting coordinators may do them or the someone, a part, a partner in a hiring [00:24:00] committee or a senior associate on the hiring committee.
And and they'll typically just ask a few questions about your work responsibilities and try to get an understanding of how how you're likely to fit in and then maybe even get a sense of how you appear in terms of your psychological makeup, if you're if you appear steady enough and that sort of thing.
And so you really they're not looking to, to for a lot there they're, they they're looking they're a lot of times they're weeding people out that may have a sense of entitlement. So if you start asking about salary or vacation and benefits and things, if you can work remotely, they, or if you come in a couple days a week and things, they'll probably don't like that eye contact and things, but pretty much your job, if you're a junior associate, for example, is just to leave the impression that you're hardworking enthusiastic they're not gonna want to go into a lot of detail with you at that point.
But just connecting with people and making a positive impression is really the biggest thing it's just showing you have confidence. And just for the most part, it's about, being yourself and not really doing a bad job senior [00:25:00] associate interviews screening associates It's much harder to get a callback as a senior associate than a junior associate.
But a lot of times firms will spend a lot of time deciding whether or not to even bring in a senior associate because senior associates typically have higher billing rates. They're closer to making partner. They can upset the upper mobility of the the balance kind of firms. And and there's typically a uh, it's much harder to get a callback as a senior associate.
So you often aren't called upon to they wanna make sure that you're usually that you're the kind of person that may be willing to either work very hard without a lot of entitlement issues and expect me to make partner and put pressure on the firm that way, or they wanna make sure that you are the person kind of person that can make partner and so forth or counsel and so forth and do well.
They're typically a little bit concerned about your work product and whether or not you can hit the ground running and then whether or not they believe you're controllable which I hate to say but a lot of times that's the big concern they have or whether or not you can completely run issues on your own.
And depending on the firm, they're gonna have different requirements for that. [00:26:00] And most senior associates are expected to really understand what they're doing and have good questions and be able to connect with the interviewer and so forth at that, at this point in your career, yeah, so move on from there.
Lemme see, and then the cultural issues partners partners are it's interesting with partners. They, they typically a lot of times the partners will actually control the interview. More, more so than the other way around. Most partners will go into interviews and especially ones with business and really control things.
To some extent the more business the partner has often, the more they control it, they want to the firm obviously is going to be taking a lot of their business. A lot of their re relying on the revenue that they bring in so forth, the partners are often in control when they're interviewing.
But the law firm at the same time will have issues with their culture, with a cultural fit how they feel that the person will get along and so forth. And and it's much different than when you're interviewing, when you're an associate or a junior or senior associate interviewing as a [00:27:00] partner you have to be able to talk about things related to your business your potential to bring in business the matters you can handle.
And then also look like you're willing to to work very hard and if that's what's necessary. That's that for part the screening interviews, and then the other thing here is just being enthusiastic. I talked to this, I talked about this earlier.
The reason I think this enthusiasm is very important is because a lot of people will go into interviews and they just won't be enthusiastic. They will they, enthusiasm means you really have to want the job. You have to be able to pump yourself up and you have to be able to be enthusiastic about the work and show that you like it.
And one of the problems many times is the longer people practice, the sometimes not always the less enthusiastic, they will often be about practicing law and about working somewhere else. And and law firms want people that are enthusiastic. They want the clients want people that are enthusiastic.
They, everybody wants to deal with people that are enthusiastic. And [00:28:00] a lot of times people will act enthusiastic, even if they're not. So I'll just give you some examples of. I, I remember a long time ago. remember buying a I dunno, building or something for our company. And I called up a bunch of different people to help me with a mortgage and one person I spoke to said, oh, tell me all about it.
And that sounds amazing. What else? And this and this and this and this and this, and thinking about it in, and in the background, like asking me, what it look like, what I was gonna do with it, what, how many office offices it had, like where, what was the neighborhood like all these questions.
This is just someone giving mortgage. Not I'm sure that person could not have cared less, but they did all this. And it made me like them because they were, I was like the, this building I was buying and they liked it. They made me think, so this, so I hired that person to do the mortgage.
Then just back to real estate, if you're hiring a real estate agent to sell your house, one person may come over and act really bored about it. And another person may come over and wanna see all the work you did and get a tour of all the rooms and talk to you about the paint you did and all [00:29:00] those different things and what you did and all the maintenance and how you like this, and where do you and that person you're gonna like more, cuz they're more enthusiastic.
It's the same thing within an attorney. So I will, I've called attorneys before about handling different matters and some people will just not care and they'll, and other people will ask all sorts of questions and look very enthusiastic about it. And you may be talking about I don't know, just something, very mundane the last time I don't know.
Some corporate document or something, but they may act extremely enthusiastic about it. Those are the people you're like, and you're gonna hire well, it's the same thing with law firms. Law firms will hire people that ask a bunch of questions and and get very enthusiastic. I remember I, I would I got very good at interviewing with law firms when when I was, after I've been practicing a few years, because I would go in and I would be very enthusiastic and I would ask all these questions about all this litigation stuff they may have worked on and what they did.
And and I remember in one case I was interviewing with one guy and he kept, I asked some questions and he called other people to help with the questions. And pretty soon I was [00:30:00] interviewing with four or five people in the same office, cuz they were all talking about some litigation case that they worked on.
And and that law firm kept calling me for months after just because they, because I was enthusiastic and got them enthusiastic. So people wanna feel like you like them, they wanna feel that you're enthusiastic about the work that they do. They want to feel like that, they that you that you like them and that you're interested in the work and you're enthusiastic.
And if you're not, you're just GLM about it. That's not gonna go anywhere. Like one of the worst interviews I ever had. Was with a a guy that and I think I may have told this a couple weeks ago, but he was he was I was hiring an entry level attorney to work in our company to help out with some help another attorney working here.
So I, I called UCLA, I think in the winter, maybe in the fall, like late fall. And and they had some people that hadn't gotten jobs yet. UCLA is a great law school. Most, almost everybody there gets jobs, but every law school that has people that come out every year and don't get jobs. And so they sent me over a bunch of [00:31:00] resumes and and one of them, the guy was at the top of his class and so forth.
And so I interviewed him and I, and it was the, one of the least enthusiastic people I've ever talked to in my life. I couldn't believe it. I, and and so have to be enthusiastic, you have to. And so that's why he didn't get a job. And a lot of people that don't get jobs is because they're unable to get enthusiastic.
They see the negatives they're not positive and you need to be up. Think about the real agents that I'm talking about that are get hired, or the mortgage broker that gets hired, the attorneys that get hired, or the, even the doctors that get hired. The doctors that get hired will ask a lot of questions and have a lot of interest.
I can't even imagine having to ask someone about their I don't know if you're doctor asking, talking to someone about how their shoulder feels for 15 minutes and asking a question, if you move this way, and if you've been doing that for 30 years, you can probably not be, have any interest in it.
But the if you're a patient you're very interested in it, so you have to be enthusiastic and you have to be and this is what interviewing's about. And and many [00:32:00] times people will go into interviews and they'll say things like. And so already asked me that and I answered that. Or, each time you answer the same question, you need to be enthusiastic.
You have to be very interested in now I've been talking, I told you at the start of this presentation that I've been talking about how to interview for decades and I'm still interested it and I, and you need someone talking to you. That's interested in this. If everybody that's integrating a law firm does, and that's, if I had no interest in it, that you would be, who knows, but the point is you have to be interested in what you're doing and you have to act interested in it.
And and you have to sell yourself that you're interested in whatever you're being asked by the law firm. And that means, not, just being interested in the legal work you're doing means being interested in your practice area means being interested in the people there means being interested in how to improve.
It means interested in the law changing. It means interested. All this stuff is huge. It's you have to be enthusiastic. People hire people that are enthusiastic. Why would you hire someone to represent you that doesn't care? You'd [00:33:00] have to be, but that's what people do. So you have to be very enthusiastic.
That means having a good handshake. It means making eye contact with people. It means asking questions. It means not being defensive, it means all these things. It means not having an attitude problem. It means all these things. And and so when law firms are asking you questions, they're trying to understand if you really wanna do the job and and and if you're enthusiastic, that means you do.
And and if you're not, then it doesn't every mistake that I've ever made hiring people is, was related to Hiring people that just didn't want the job or was, were UN enthusiastic. I Two of the worst hires I made one guy, I was interviewing him and he said he had to go cuz his dog was in the car and he had a good resume, but that's not enthusiasm.
That was a mistake. Another guy I was interviewing him and he took a phone call while I was interviewing him. And I thought that was really odd. And this was before everyone had cell phones. And anyway the point is that you have to interview people that you, people you have to be enthusiastic.
And when you are the best [00:34:00] law firms will hire the people that are the most enthusiastic. You have to be to really think about how to be enthusiastic, where you on. All right. All right. So the next thing is selling yourself. This is another form of enthusiasm.
One of in every law firm, by the way, there's people that are that are selling the legal services and are very good and bringing in business and going out and meeting with people and doing a lot of that. And then there's people that are taking the work and don't necessarily believe in selling.
They believe that because they are attorneys or they did well in school or whatever that they don't have to sell anymore. And and I don't really understand why that is, but this is a, it's a very kind of common thing. And and you need to be able to sell. So selling is extremely important in every profession.
It's important in the law because you need to be able to sell yourself. And you have to get comfortable with selling. Being uncomfortable with selling is dumb. The, you can become president of the country. If you're a good salesperson, you can be, you can do anything. You [00:35:00] can. The most successful people in the world are good at selling things you have to sell.
It's what everybody that's successful does. I You can certainly be successful, not selling, but selling. In most cases, everyone does you sell. When you make a friend you sell, when you try to get into a school you sell, when you meet a mate, you sell anything you everything's about selling.
When you go to court, if you're a litigator you're selling, if you are trying to get the, a good side of a transaction, you're selling. If you're filing a patent with a patent office, you're selling everybody, you, you have to sell. So I don't know why people don't have the thought of selling, but ever going into a firm.
And so forth is, and getting a job and being an attorney is all about selling and you should become a student of sales, meaning everybody in the legal profession should read about sales and understand it. And and really do that now, selling does not like working, like you think of like someone in an auto dealership or something running out to you when you pull up and asking if they can [00:36:00] help you.
It's just about framing things in a positive way. And and it's making sure that that you're providing the right information and learning how to do things and doing things in a way that's helping you. And and so just make sure you're selling yourself and selling is a, is about presentation.
It's about it's about being prepared. It's about having objections prepared to things and and it's really more of a frame of mind than anything, but it's very important. Who would you want to hire someone who was able to sell themselves or someone who didn't? And I'll just, I'll say this, I say it every week, but the most successful attorneys are selling.
You can sell just by showing up in places where people are buying things without running up to them. You can sell in all sorts of ways, but you have to be there and you have to be selling. You should also look your best. I don't know why, but a lot of times people go into interviews and they will when they'll dress down, they'll dress casually.
You should look your best. You should put on a, what look nice. And and the reason is because you're there to impress people and show that you take its [00:37:00] take interviewing with them seriously. I used to work in a firm. That was one of the first, I think it was the first firm in the country that didn't have a dress code, so anybody could wear whatever they wanted, they could wear shorts and t-shirts.
And but people that showed up to interviews at that firm that weren't wearing suits, never got jobs or weren't dressed up because it was disrespectful. So even the attorneys in the firm that would wear shorts to work would always put on a suit to go visit their clients. And so they all kept suits in their office.
You wanna look good when you go into interviews you don't you, you need to think in terms of what would you wanna see from your client? I had one guy once that was first in this class from a major law school. And he grew his hair down to his buttock for some reason. I don't know why he did it.
I It doesn't matter to me, but and and and no one would hire him, and he, despite what a great attorney he was and which was a shame. And he was coming from a big firm. I I think he was at the time, I think his first job was at he got hired at a very big, very respected firm in Silicon valley.
That was from New York. And but no one else when he [00:38:00] needed a new job would hire him. They just were very uncomfortable. And so you have to look your best. You have. Do things other people will do things like they'll go into an interview with a bunch of you just, I don't know, they'll wanna show off their tattoos or something and that can work in certain employers.
I'm not saying it doesn't work, but I'm saying you have to be very careful about about looking your best. You have to think, it's just the kind of attorney I would want representing me. And and looking and thinking in terms of the employer, cause the employer, when you're going into an interview, essentially what you're doing is you're trying out you're showing I'm the, is this the type of representative you want to have representing you in, in, in court or in and then a transactions, just the kind of person you want showing up.
So that doesn't mean that, you're expected to be a, a anything special. You can, you don't have to be but you have to be, dressed in a way that's professional and and takes the interview, seriously little things like you don't wanna, you wanna be in conservative with your colors and you wanna be, [00:39:00] you don't wanna wear a lot of perfume or makeup and you wanna be very careful.
And and I hate even talking about this, but I talk about it because people just do things that are dumb that doesn't get them interviews. They I've seen men with five earrings go into interviews and just, and it's even though they're it doesn't always work and I've seen women go into interviews.
And it's just, you have to be careful about all this stuff. You have to just think in terms of your audience and what's important to them. And and you wanna address in a way that's respectable to the employer that shows respect to them because that respect can help get you a position.
And and it just demonstrates that you take everything very seriously and you can dress however you want later. I went into one firm once I told the story before, but I went into one firm and it was the funniest thing I've ever. It was a very well respected LA firm. I, with all these people that had clerked on, the courts of appeals and were top of the really good firm and I, but it went in there and all the guys were had, [00:40:00] the, these filter the cigarettes on their desk and a couple of 'em were wearing leather pants and these really tight t-shirts and, so you, but I was wearing a suit and I would never have thought of dressing like that in the firm.
And so the point is that you just have to be very respectable in terms of your dress. You want to be you wanna shave. If you're a wo man, you wanna have hair. You wanna look good and you wanna take everything seriously because you're just basically trying out and your look is part of trying out.
It matters and because that's who people want interviewing them or people that take it seriously. And and it can be, unfortunately, and I don't like to say this, but that I think physical appearance to some places matters. It's I think tall men, a lot of times do much better, I think there's, it can I don't know, athletes, a lot of times will do a lot better in interviews.
And and and I don't know. It's just the way it is. So you wanna do the best you, you can and you wanna look the best you can and take things seriously. So these are about your audience and I think your audience is very important for people to understand. So you [00:41:00] have associate or junior associates interviewing other associates and as a general rule The when you're, if you're an associate you're interview with an associate and this, by the way is something that you really should pay attention to, cuz it's important.
If you go in and interview with another associate and they're really looking they wanna make sure that you're not someone that they're intimidated by that you're gonna get along with them, that you're going to try to be like them and socialize with them. And if you're not, then then they're not gonna, they're not necessarily going to like you and you just, so this is really more of a fit issue and whether or not these people like you and they want, they wanna be impressed.
They may want, if they went to really good schools, they may wanna hire someone that also went to really good schools or if they didn't, then they may be intimidated if you did. If they but you definitely do not need to try to impress them that you're gonna be a harder worker than them, or you're smarter than them or anything like that because they if they don't like you, it can be very problematic.
[00:42:00] So you want especially associates, if you're an associate being a good by associate, you really want them to like you. And and think that, you're competent that you have qualifications to work in the firm and that they that they like you and that you can fit in. And and that's very important.
And if you don't come across that way and they want to think that you could be their friend as well. And and that, and it's very important if you don't act that way and use that professional or not nice, or they think you're looking down at them, or they think that it's, you don't think it's a good job, or I don't know, or whatever or you tell them that you're interested in Bigger firms, if it's a smaller firm and just making mistakes like that can definitely hurt you.
I tell the story I don't like telling it, but I'm gonna tell it because I do think it's helpful. A lot of times firms, when they interview people there, there are firm, there are different cultures of different, the associate cultures. So some associate cultures are very can be very nerdy.
Others can be very collegiate almost like a sorority or fraternity or others can be very [00:43:00] ethnic or very I don't know, they can be all over the map. And when I say ethnic, it could be people of all, one religion or one, so whatever the culture of the associates is you need to pretend you need to figure out how to fit in there and and come across as someone that fits in there.
So you meet a lot of different people when you are in college and law school, when you start practicing, you need to, and you need to get a sense of the type of people that are there. And once you have a sense of the type of people, then then you can conduct yourself in interviews and try to get along with them.
Accordingly I've had situations where where I've talked to people and they've told me, oh, you have to be this kind of person to interview there, or this kind of person, or from this kind of background. And often those statements are they could be religious or, all sorts of things in nature, and that's fine or cultural in nature, or some firms hire people that it's just, it just, you have to be careful.
And so with the associates, you have to learn how to in different firms, how to navigate that. [00:44:00] And if you don't then then you, then the associates are probably gonna shoot you down. And most of the times when associates will shoot other people down it's often because they think of you they think you don't fit in, or they don't think you could be a good friend or they think that you're, all sorts of reasons, but I think being liked is one of the most important things.
Okay. So the typical associate partner interview what a partner's really looking for is they want people that are gonna work hard and make the money. So it's just that's pretty much it they want you people that will fit in, into their exist with their associates and also help 'em with that.
But they really want they whereas it's probably not a good idea to tell associates fellow associates how great you are and how many hour, how, what our great associate and how competitive you're gonna be with them. And you can actually do that with partners.
And so partners do want people that are hard workers that are enthusiastic, that buy into the firm that think highly of it and all those sorts of things. You're most, most law firms are much more likely to hire hard workers for them associates are interviewing [00:45:00] them that's or partners are that's really what they're looking for, but the they're also looking for a kind of person that they feel can be controlled in the way they wanna control them and and and will do whatever they need.
So that's just of how that is. But you have to, but you did definitely want to impress partners. You want to give them especially young partners, a level of respect that their position is and make them feel important and and do what you can to get along with the people.
One of the things that I do need to highlight is law firms and hiring losers. And and and I, and when I say losers I don't like using that term cuz it's not a very nice term to use, but but there are a lot of people out there that are that are not doing well.
And and and there are people and I was talking to someone about this yesterday, there in every organization. There's people that add a lot more value than they take. There's people that are, that add enough value to stay around. And then there's people that don't add value and take a lot of value and really bring down the whole organization.
And I'm sure wherever you work, you've seen [00:46:00] people like that. There's people that just shouldn't be there that are taking advantage with the firm that are bringing people down around them and making people feel badly. And and you have to be careful. So there's really, and this is an old thing but it's the old kind of three types of firm people that are hired by firms.
And there's different ways of talking about this, but there's really, you have cruisers grinders and losers. And so I wanna talk about the three and I wanna tell you about the loser first, cuz that's really one of the things the law firms are most careful about and they really wanna avoid law firms do not like hiring losers and and a losers is really someone that doesn't appear interested in the job and they just do things and give things away, an interview that they're not interested in.
The people that can be difficult to manage. That being difficult to manage means that kind of people that are looking for. Fault and criti being critical of the organization and its leaders. They they probably, they may have had problems with supervisors or things in past positions.
They're always looking for something else. They may they may [00:47:00] not really wanna practice law. They may cut corners. They may not take their work seriously. They may be arrogant, meaning they think they're better than everyone, including partners. And who knows. And they don't wanna work hard or if they work hard, they're acting as if they work hard.
If they're not supervised closely, they'll just drift off the tracks. And any, anytime you come across that way then the law firm will typically get, may not hire you. And so any doubt you express about the practice of law, any inability to connect with people negative remarks the better the firm, the more they're gonna pick up on that.
And and that, and these sorts of people generally make bad liars. They don't at least in a law firm environment don't thrive well, and there's nothing wrong with not wanting to practice law in a law firm or not liking the legal environment. I I would say, for example, law professors, a lot of law professors are very gifted and not in terms of.
Niche of the woods, but wouldn't certainly, probably wouldn't most of them, not all of them but a lot of them would not do well in law firms. Same thing with lot of people in different practice settings. [00:48:00] So a lot of in-house attorneys would never do on a law firm. It's just, but a law firm is looking for things that make it seem like you're not gonna do well there.
And that's what makes you a loser. So what makes you're a loser in a law firm doesn't mean you're a loser just means you're not a good fit for there. And again I like to give an example of someone that's a loser in a law firm. That doesn't mean they're a loser. It's no different than saying You know that someone who's a I don't know, a professional musician should also be very good at playing basketball.
That's probably not a good that the person's gonna be a loser if they put a basketball or someone who's a I don't know a neurosurgeon should be a very good litigator. It doesn't make sense. If you're in the wrong profession or in the wrong practice setting or whatever, it's you can't worry about it.
But law firms are looking for anything that basically shows you're not committed or not someone that's gonna do well there cruisers are really the majority of candidates that a lot of times when people are at law firms are hiring this is most people. You may be a cruiser, I don't know, but cruiser is really someone that can do the work.
They'll do it. There, there's no particular interest in what they're doing. They [00:49:00] they've never been that enthusiastic about they're practicing a law, but they're doing it. They they're there's nothing there's no specific drive or anything that they may be driven to work in a big firm for several years, but they're looking for something else to do, but they'll do it.
There's no, they don't need to be partner or anything. Or and most people working in law firms are at least at the associate level that they hire cruisers law firms are perfectly happy to hire cruisers. They know that most people are gonna be cruisers. You can go to a very good college and you can go to a very good law school, many times being a cruiser.
And that's fine. Most people, by the way, that get into really good colleges, meaning like your Harvards and things like that, get in because they're exceptional at something and they're not cruisers, but a lot of times people will become cruisers later on. And that's fine. Cruisers can even make partner in a lot of firms.
They may not be the best partners, but they're not really always the most desirable candidates, but they're fine. And there's nothing wrong with being a cruiser and you can work someplace, but I would suggest to you that if you wanted to be a really good attorney you probably [00:50:00] wanted to be something else.
And grinders are very sought out. Grinders are just very whether it's the work or getting business or that it is just every being, being an attorney is really everything to them. And they have the, just a single minded obsession to being the absolute best attorney possible. They build the most hours.
They try hard to fit in well with people socially. They I had this experience where I was talking to a very successful attorney not too long ago, the past few months. And he had tens of millions of dollars in business. And and he was maybe in his I don't know, 15th or 20th year of practice.
And he had a house that he still lived in with his entire family that he'd bought. And he, was making a lot of money several million dollars a year working in a big law firm, but he had a house that he still lived in with his family. They bought for three or $400,000 in LA when he was a, just starting out and he was still living there, they didn't even have time to move.
So think about that. That's where his emphasis was, is on just his job. He never had time to move just same [00:51:00] house. Cuz he working basically seven days a week, that's a grinder. Now it's and he, a lot of times, and that's his emphasis is on, his job, not having a big house or nice car or anything, that's it.
And and grinders typically are very sought out. They work as hard as they can. They do everything they possibly can to be good. Now they, sometimes all they can offer to the firm is the work, but they'll do other things as well. And and they often have a lot of weaknesses, but they're usually so enthusiastic about their jobs that they're able to improve.
You'll I've seen grinders that you know, at some point where some of the biggest nerds you've ever seen and then they suddenly are some of the smoothest people, they literally can become anything because they're they wanna do what is required of them or wherever they go.
And they're typically the people that get the most offers a law firms are very smart. They can tell when they interview someone that is likely to commit and do everything, and these grinded will provide a lot of value. Just think when any [00:52:00] organization you've ever worked in, think about the people that are working the hardest that aren't getting involved in all the drama that are not finding reasons to be unhappy, are able to commit are improving, are getting better, are getting put on more and more important matters.
These are the kind of people that law firms want. They're the kind of people you would want to, if you were a law firm and so this is what you need to aspire to, but really it's about being obsessed and and putting all your marbles in one bra basket and becoming an attorney and being enthusiastic about it.
I do wanna make one other point about the grinder. One of the things about grinders that I think is very important is the, is that they're not dabbling. So the problem with the losers and with the cruisers is a lot of people dabble. So dabbling means they're trying all sorts of different things and you may try different practice area.
You may try a different size firm. You may try a different location. You may try a different practice setting. You may try all these different things to be happy, and that can [00:53:00] work. I've seen people typically think they need to try different people. Like I want to be friends with this type of person.
No, I need to be friends with this type of person I need to be, so a lot of times people will dabble and the people will dabble their entire lives. They'll dabble. They'll try one thing and then they'll try another and they'll try one thing. And maybe if they do this, they'll be happy.
Maybe if they do this, they'll be happy. Maybe if they do this, they'll be successful. Maybe if they do this. And so a lot of people just dabble and dabble and dabble. Now there's nothing wrong with dabbling and frankly, dabbling can be interesting, but but if you commit to something you're always going to get better results then then if you try to do a million different things, because you're gonna be competing at some point with people that commit.
So if you go to the practice of law and you decide, you wanna be you wanna do nothing, but one type of litigation and you commit to it, you're probably gonna get better and better and better and better. The more time goes by. Whereas if you try five or six different practice, heres you're not.
One piece of advice I have, and this may be. [00:54:00] Literally, if you listen to what I'm saying, it may be one of the most important things