I wrote this recently. To preserve anonymity, I can't share every detail. If something is left out (e.g. law school, practice area, locations) it's most likely intentional. Please forgive the length and any haughtiness.
Tomorrow I start articles. It happened. It finally happened. Holy. God.
For those of you that don't know, I have been on the forum since prepping for the LSAT back in fall of 2011. It's been 4 years since then. Like any other 2L that didn't know what kind of law they wanted to practice, I applied to OCIs. Average student, couple interviews. I remember being surprised I got in-firms. I had such low expectations and Vancouver in-firms were a whirlwind. I've never been in towers so high: immaculate interiors, clients worth millions ... it was intimidating. Somehow through the process, I got my hopes up. When they called to say their preferred candidate accepted, I remember being surprised again at how disappointed I was.
I was invested in OCIs because it delayed actually thinking about what I wanted to do. It delayed having to demonstrate specific interests, it delayed having to sell myself out there in the real world. That's not a terrible thing. Full service firms are great for finding out what you like. When 3L recruitment didn't work out it was the same feeling. I spent 3L applying to what came up, sending emails to a few firms here and there. It wasn't enough, I had to go out there and sell myself.
I graduated without articles and I spent the summer networking, coffees, cold calls. Not as many as I could have. I really could have done more. Posted my articling ad with trial lawyers, highly recommend doing this (Thanks Hegdis). Thought about what I really valued and how I could articulate that, I thought about what kinds of clients I wanted (Thanks Diplock). On this forum there were a number of people who gave me some words of advice (Thanks Pyke), some sent me postings whether for articles or just a good law related job (Thanks sunnyskies, quincywagstaff, kurrika), support during school (Thanks Dubs604), commiserating with me on the search (Thanks schroed) or just moral support (Thanks almostnot). Uriel's positivity about legal practice helped prevent me from getting jaded (Thanks Uriel). I would not be the person I am today without this forum.
"Everything happens for a reason" is a platitude my partner's mom frequently says. I know what you're thinking, hear me out. I got an interview with this firm because I had a tiny bit of experience in that area of law. How did I get that experience? A family friend lawyer offered me a part time volunteering gig. I strongly resisted the idea at the time. It seemed like nepotism even though this wasn't family. I wanted to do it on my own or I wanted to be paid. Everyone looked at me like an idiot. My decision was naive and amusing to them … so I relented and took it. If I stuck to my gut, I wouldn't have experience in that area, and without experience in that area, I wouldn't have been interesting to this firm.
Another thing: I took a non law job in September that turned out to be a poor place to be and I made a difficult decision to quit. I had agreed to give my employer a month's notice before departing. Thank goodness I left when I did because I would not have been able to accept articles with such an early start date if I stayed. But at the time I made that decision, I had no clue this articling opportunity would come up.
I want to emphasize: I don't think the decisions above were necessarily the right ones. I had good reasons to decide otherwise. But if they didn't happen they way they did, I wouldn't be here. There's so much luck involved, you just can't predict what will help and what won't. So make decisions you can live with and whatever happens will happen.
I was prepared to talk law at the interview. I did my homework. Luckily, I didn't have to talk substantive law, just about my resume. However, knowing the law properly gave me confidence throughout because I knew I could handle what came up. Knowing stories from my resume experiences helped, too. I had it down pat. They were easy going people, very relaxed, just like me. And so I did what I do best: I had fun with it. My stories either make the point that I "get" it, and that I can always find something to laugh about. I made jokes, I learned to balance my instinct for self-deprecation with confidence.
By the way, everyone has stories! Those experiences that were so awful to endure - it's all really funny in hindsight. I didn't share this story at the interview but it's a good example: In working in that awful non law position, I was instructed to show my employer's rental apartment. Even though it's within the scope of an assistant's duties, I really did not foresee this kind of task. It's something I've never done before. I had to drive out in a van that smelled like cigarettes, in heavy rain (so I got wet opening the window just to breathe). It was at night to a part of town I've never visited, to show a residence I've never seen. I did not enjoy that day. It's hilarious in hindsight though, like, wtf, that happened. And now I can say I've done something like that. Of course I was dreading it. I had a new license and drove about 10 times a year (city kids take transit everywhere). But I did it, and I think it's a funny story about how I handle unexpected things: I get it done. Don't like that story? Think I'm coming off as someone who complains about unusual assignments? Well, I'm glad you don't want me around because we wouldn't do well together.
After the interview, I remember walking away completely satisfied with my performance. I thought, "you know what, even if I don't get it, it's OK, because not every case is going to go my way. I can still be happy about the arguments I made." I felt like I really got through who I was, what I valued, why I wanted to practice in their area, that I was someone who could get the job done and be great to have around. I know that sometimes being yourself doesn't pay off. Sometimes they don't really like who you are, they think you are too confident, not confident enough, or that you're perfect but someone else has that one thing you don't.
Wouldn't you know it, before I left the firm's general vicinity I got the call. They liked me. Flying colours. Decent salary, PLTC fees paid, nice people, respectable small firm … of course, you never know what it's actually like until you start and I expect articling itself to be a nightmare. And they might not like me either after I start. But who the hell cares about that right now?! The now is about being happy. I am happy, and above all, I know I am truly fortunate.
[Endnote: I have started work and clearly this is the kind of firm where I have to be working my butt off, harder than everyone else, proving myself every day. It's a bit daunting but I'm not phased. I've prepared for this mentally for the last 2 years. I am ready to fail, pick myself up again, have a small success, be sternly talked down to, be kind to myself, stress eat, weekends … my body is ready. I was not handed this on a silver platter, I know it's worth as well as my own.]
- john grisham, nerfco, LawMom and 90 others like this