Last Saturday I attended a minority interview workshop sponsored by Hanson Bridgett. Normally I don’t have much anxiety about interviews; for some reason I can be self-promoting, charming, funny, modest, and show a genuine interest in whatever it is your company does… even if I just read about it online that morning.
But my mock interviews didn’t go so well. Both interviewers asked me the same two questions:
"Why do you want to work for our firm?"
"Why do you want to work in <insert random practice area>?"
My answer: because… er… I want to make some money?
Actually, I didn’t say that, but I may as well have. Earlier in the workshop one of the panelists remarked that the best interview is with someone who knows what they want to do and knows how his firm is essential to that goal. “Passion is the most important thing you can bring to an interview.”
For… mergers and acquisitions.
Passion is a serious emotion in my book, and the things I’m passionate about are unlikely to be found on a law firm website under “About Us” or “Practice Areas”. So what is a young person who wants to work for a firm but has passion pointing in the wrong direction to do? Shouldn’t it be enough to say, “I’m smart, I’ll work hard, and I really don’t care what it is I do as long as I’m paid and treated well.” My dad and mom have no passion for truck driving and cashiering. Why do I need passion for executive compensation and benefits?
Well for one thing, my impression is that without passion it’s unlikely anyone will last very long at a firm. With attrition rates what they are, passion probably isn’t enough.
Even if we can’t muster up true passion to do the work of big law firms, the least we should do is determine what practice area and work environment we enjoy most before we start the summer job the application and interview process.
Questions that may help us get to those answers: What’s my favorite class?
What case have I read in class that really got me excited? Could I see myself as the attorney on either side of the dispute? Do I like big fancy offices with lots of resources and famous clients or smaller intimate offices with less resources but more opportunity for interesting assignments? Where do I see myself in 10 years, other than still in debt?
These are questions I’m just beginning to answer. Maybe the answers will bring me a few steps closer to finding my passion in the law. Even if they don’t, they’ll at least give me something good to talk about in the interview.