Interviews ‘R Us


For 1Ls (and presumably the 0.5% of 2Ls and 3Ls still job hunting) it’s interview season, which means we get to spend an inordinate amount of time lying through our teeth. I imagine the big law firms expect this, partly because nobody actually wants to work for them out of personal conviction or intellectual interest (kidding; don’t write me letters, libertarians), partly because all their brochures are so obviously disingenuous (typical quote: “At other law firms that appear 100% identical to us in every substantive respect associates are treated like slaves. We’ll be straight with you – you’ll work hard here, but it’ll be interesting work and people won’t scream at you every time you misplace a colon”) it’s hard to imagine it’s not what they’re looking for. The vaguely named “public interest organizations,” however, are a different story. These organizations have things like mission statements and goals and they want people who fit in with their mission. You, potential public interest type, like that in that in theory, but let’s face it: most of us don’t really have much idea of what we want to do other than that we don’t want it to be a firm job, and it shows. The interview, then, becomes a mad scramble to not say what’s really on your mind. Most of them go like this:

So, I see your undergraduate degree was in Vague But Important Sounding Social Theory? Why did you decide to go to law school?

What you say: Well, I really have a passion for the law intellectually, but more than that, I wanted to use my theoretical background to really help a community, and I thought law school was the best way to form that activist base.

What you mean: Have you ever tried to find a job with a liberal arts degree? You have precisely two options: (a) Go to grad school, be forced to spend another six to ten years with Vague Social Theoryologists and still not have a job at the end of it or (b) learn to love the filing. Shoot me now. Anyway, law school is easy to apply to and doesn’t require any sort of, like, knowledge base, unlike real academic programs like medical school. It’s not cheap, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Well, I notice your resume shows a lot of experience with Snack Food Based Legal Activism. Are you interested in that field?

What you say: Actually, at the moment, I’m looking to diversify my experience and develop a knowledge base over a wide range of important social issues. What you mean: Please, Snack Food Activists are possibly the only people on the planet who are more annoying than Vague Social Theoryologists. I do like guacamole, though. And goldfish crackers. Delicious.

What brought you to look for a summer position in Fluffy and Adorable Animal Law?

What you say: I’m actually extremely passionate about protecting small, furry animals. In fact, I’ve personally rescued several small hamsters from feline-related death, and found it to be an extremely rewarding experience.

What you mean: Well, I had to do something. And since I spent the entire semester of Civil Procedure watching the National Zoo’s Panda Cam, this seemed like something I’d be qualified for. Plus, I had hamsters once, and they were super adorable, at least until they ate all their babies and seriously freaked me out, causing me to avoid them as much as possible until they, thankfully, kicked the bucket. But I do still like that baby panda.

What sort of issues are you interested in working on?

What you say: What I’d really like is to get a sense of the diverse issues you’re working on; I’m trying not to pigeonhole myself into one particular interest area.

What you mean: What do you mean you don’t have any baby panda related cases? That’s bullshit. I don’t really care then.

What do you most want to get out of your summer employment?

What you say: I want to improve my research and writing skills and to apply the abstract knowledge we learn in the classroom, but most importantly, I want to get a really good sense of the types of day to day activities that lawyers in your organization work on.

What you mean: A few bucks, a summer somewhere interesting, and some sort of notion of whether I might want to do this work in the future. I’d appreciate not having to spend two months filing or making coffee, and anything you can give me that involves getting out of the office would be awesome, but otherwise, you know, I’ll manage.

So I see you’re working on both the Journal of Extraterrestrial Law and the Tropical Fish Law Review. That must be very intense.

What you say: I’ve found it to be very challenging, but a good experience, and I really appreciate the chance to work on diverse issues, from the legality of a nonconsensual Vulcan mind meld, to the many challenges of tropical vacations in the 21st century. So I’ve found the hours to be worth it.

What you mean: Crap, how do I explain that first years don’t actually have to do any work on journals without devaluing my entire resume?

I see you’re also involved in a clinical program, the Electronic Media Activism Center (EMAC). Can you tell me about that?

What you say: Yes, I really wanted a chance to get out into the community directly and to help people who can’t afford either premium cable or the Deadwood, Season 1 box set. It’s been a very rewarding experience and I’m very proud of the many people I’ve helped access the post-Superbowl episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

What you mean: Yeah, I figured I should do something that involves helping people directly or some shit like that, but it turns out I actually don’t really enjoy working with people because I’m scared they’ll yell at me. Which they pretty much do. Actually, that’s another reason I thought Fluffy and Adorable Animal Law would be a good fit. Pandas don’t yell, do they? Although I guess being mauled isn’t so great, either, come to think of it.

Well, thank you for speaking with us today. We’ll be in touch.

What you say: It’s been my pleasure, and I hope to work with you this summer.

What you mean: Whatever.

Katie Mapes, 1L, would like any potential employers to completely disregard this column.

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