BY REBECCA INGBER
I’ve heard talk of the “end of love” in Manhattan. At Harvard Law School, the end of love was the year firms stopped hiring 1Ls.
My friend Amy sees the interviewing process as high-level professional dating. She plays hard to get. She walks into the partner’s hotel room, looks him up and down, and when he asks her, “why are you interested in us?” she shrugs and says, “You tell me, why should I be?” It’s easy for Amy – blond, leggy, and with a sharp Prada suit, killer heels and straight-A’s, she’s got her pick of WASPy last names dying to fly her to exotic locales across the world. I met Amy at Temple Bar last week and her phone was ringing off the hook. She screens, of course. *Sigh*, she rolls her eyes, “not him again. He’s SO overeager.” Amy is waiting to meet her match. She’s still holding out for the one who hasn’t called.
At Grafton St., Ted is offering tips to a bunch of anxious 1Ls. He uses pet names rather than identifying each firm and risking getting it wrong. “Just call each one ‘your firm,'” he says. “The last thing you wanna do is go in there and call Wachtell “Cravath” in the heat of the moment. You need to sweet-talk it. Every firm’s the same; just have a line you can use for each and then tweak.” As I leave, Ted is explaining, “The trick is to make each one feel special, like it’s the only firm for you.”
Rachel, however, has a guilt complex about the whole process. Once they take her out to dinner, she thinks she owes them something. We were chatting yesterday about her prospects and she couldn’t bring herself to tell someone “no.” “Look,” I told her, “you don’t owe them anything. They wanted to buy you that steak. It’s part of the game! They understand that dinner didn’t mean commitment.” She’s still traumatized by her recent attempt to let a firm down easy. (“But they were so sweet! I just didn’t think the chemistry was there.”) She told them she wasn’t ready to make a commitment, and was still exploring other options. The response was total disappointment. They didn’t understand; hadn’t they hit it off? Rachel was a mess over this, but she knew in the long run it just wouldn’t have worked out between them. When they said they were willing to share her for a summer, she knew it was time to make a clean break.
For Allen, OCI is about finding a lifetime match. This is no summer fling for him; he’s looking to commit. Over coffee and chocolate pretzels, Allen is talking earnestly with a partner about life choices. How does the firm feel about children? He explains that he hopes to one day be an involved dad. “Do you regularly make it home in time for dinner?” he asks. The partner wants to know how committed he is to N.Y., and would he be willing to think about a different city?
By now I’m late for lunch with my friend John at the Hark, and he looks miserable. OCI has not been good to him. John’s what some call an “out-of-his-leaguer.” He insists on competing with the big boys and no one has the heart to tell him to try the second tier. John’s met hundreds of people, and made anxious chitchat over cheese and crackers at hospitality suites across Cambridge, but he’s still coming up empty. Though he hasn’t gotten one call, he’s still hopeful. “It’s only been two weeks,” John says to me expectantly, “do you think I should call? Maybe they’re waiting for me to make my move.” I pretend to be checking my schedule. He just doesn’t understand why things aren’t working out for him. “Is it my personality?” he asks, “You’d tell me, right? Maybe it’s my style… Do you think they didn’t like the tie?” I leave John playing with the ringer on his cell phone, and I head to the ladies room to reapply my lipstick. Another day, another law firm. When will I find the One?