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Improving Your Application for Articling

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1 hour ago, Eeee said:

If there's actual work-life balance at a firm, people will boast about it. If it is a sweatshop they won't volunteer anything or use weird euphemisms ("fast paced!"  "good experience!") and will react like BQ when you ask about it. 

LOL, that's funny, but I kind of think the opposite may also be true - the firms that are sweatshops will insist that they offer "great work-life balance" and the ones that have a more relaxed pace don't say anything about it because it is the norm. 

47 minutes ago, TheScientist101 said:

Totally agree - if you ask me whether my firm offers "good work life balance" - I'm going to say "absolutely" and my wife is going to give me one big eye-roll and say "you have no idea what it means to have a work life balance". I think a good balance means I get to have two Saturdays off a month and 4 weeks vacation a year (on which I'm actively checking my email, not because I have to but because I want to). 

I love my work - absolutely love it, and so for me "taking a break" isn't actually balancing - if I'm away from it for too long I get anxiety. I like working here early in the morning and later at night because I feel productive during those times. Yes, sometimes I do leave the office at 3pm on Wednesday to spend time with the family - and I like doing that too (and I'm happy that my firm could really care less when I leave so long as the work is getting done). But honestly,  if I wasn't married and I didn't have a family I would definitely be here 24/7 and still profess that I have excellent work life balance. 

This. Before you start the job, you might have the notion that a 9-5 is ideal and might think that's what you want. But when you're in the office with your principal at 4.45 discussing a factum and you suggest a novel argument and he loves it and is very impressed and wants to know more, you may be excited to go back and do two more hours of research and not even notice the time. Longer hours at a job you love are not necessarily bad, and shorter hours at something not challenging can be brutal. But of course, this will depend if you are the only person responsible for a daycare pickup at 5.30, which changes the equation. There are just too many variables. And of course in an OCI you probably do not want to be mentioning if you have kids and the like - no one is supposed to judge you for that but in the real world, it's advisable to keep it to yourself. And work-life balance isn't the same for every parent. I feel I have decent work-life balance and so does my husband, but I don't always eat dinner with my family and he rarely does, and I know some people who have a line in the sand that they want to eat dinner as a family every night, or most nights, or they feel that they are working too much. So if someone really wants to know about work-life balance, to compare their expectations to my experience, I would need to know what their "life" part of the picture looks like to balance it with the "work" side, and this entails knowing if they have kids, how many, how old, what kind of help or supports do they have, do they have a spouse, what are the spouse's expectations, do they have other family obligations ie. to a sick parent, how long is their commute, etc. etc. - all very personal topics that you are not supposed to cover in interviews. 

The question also makes me roll my eyes when people, usually women, ask about work-life balance with a family that they don't actually have, have no immediate plans of having, don't know if they will ever have. I get wanting to think ahead, but come on - don't raise obstacles before you have to!

41 minutes ago, EMP said:

My claim was not that students should ask the question in all interviews. Nor that the LSO only makes smart decisions. My point is that if a student does ask a question on work-life balance, to consider that inquiry as “stupid” or to negatively assess the student as a result (which effectively the OP endorsed), is the wrong response.

It is legitimately a relevant topic to the practice of law. The inclusion of the subject in CPD, profession-oriented publications, and so on is evidence of that. It is not unreasonable for a prospective employee to raise it, if only to see how a prospective employer approaches the subject. It may not be what you would do, people may have different views on how to bring the subject up, but the question should not be viewed as an indication that a student is uncommitted or will not do the work.

 

It may not be stupid or negative, and I wouldn't necessarily assume that the student wouldn't do the work, but it's a "nothing" question when there are better ones to ask that will build more rapport or sell yourself more positively. If you want to take CPD on it, go ahead and take it, but don't bring it up in interviews if you want to maximize those interviews. When I hear it, I just think the person is naive, may not have really thought about what they want, or is just mindlessly repeating what they heard elsewhere.

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59 minutes ago, TheScientist101 said:
1 hour ago, EMP said:

 

Here's the thing - this thread was started to advise students about improving their applications/interview techniques. The consensus among professionals is that generally speaking, if a student is given a 17 minute OCI (or a 45 minute in firm interview) and they use that time to ask generic questions such as those directed to the firm's work-life-balance, that type of inquiry isn't going to put them above the rest of the competition.

My point, again, is why it is wrong to conclude a student is not dedicated or their inquiry is “stupid” based on asking the question — both perspectives stated in this thread. There may be reasonable disagreements about the utility of the question itself in those contexts.

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4 minutes ago, EMP said:

My point, again, is why it is wrong to conclude a student is not dedicated or their inquiry is “stupid” based on asking the question — both perspectives stated in this thread. There may be reasonable disagreements about the utility of the question itself in those contexts.

and I understand that point, and I agree with @providence that it may not be stupid to make the inquiry (although that may depend on your definition of "stupid") - but it is not an interesting question and as such it will not help a candidate advance in the interview process (which was the point of the advice in this thread). 

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1 hour ago, EMP said:

My point, again, is why it is wrong to conclude a student is not dedicated or their inquiry is “stupid” based on asking the question — both perspectives stated in this thread. There may be reasonable disagreements about the utility of the question itself in those contexts.

Here's the thing though. Interviews are time-limited, and firms need to make the best decisions they can about candidates on the limited information available. I can only speak from the perspective of my own firm, but we want to hire people who are excited about the kind of work we do. If someone is given an opportunity to ask questions in an interview, and their chosen questions in that limited time are all about "work-life balance", our firm's social activities, etc. - i.e. everything they could be doing other than working - it may not be unreasonable to draw an inference about the priorities, in contrast to people who care to ask what kind of work we give students, the amount of involvement students get to have in files, business development topics, etc.

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38 minutes ago, barelylegal said:

Here's the thing though. Interviews are time-limited, and firms need to make the best decisions they can about candidates on the limited information available. I can only speak from the perspective of my own firm, but we want to hire people who are excited about the kind of work we do. If someone is given an opportunity to ask questions in an interview, and their chosen questions in that limited time are all about "work-life balance", our firm's social activities, etc. - i.e. everything they could be doing other than working - it may not be unreasonable to draw an inference about the priorities, in contrast to people who care to ask what kind of work we give students, the amount of involvement students get to have in files, business development topics, etc.

Sure. Which is why if a candidate can only ask one question, that may be not the best choice. 

Ultimately though, if there is a back-and-forth, or a broader interactive context, the work-life balance question or discussion coming up should not ipso facto reflect poorly on a candidate. That was the POV that some posters suggested, which I think is problematic for the reasons I canvassed. 

I agree that a candidate coming across exclusively concerned with limiting their work, whether through questions about work-life balance or otherwise, would not be and should not be well-received. 

At the same time, I think the fact an employee is proactively canvassing how a workplace conceives of or supports a balance between work and personal life, should not be viewed with automatic suspicion or negativity.

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Also, to be very clear, flexibility is not the same thing. I have no problem being flexible for people with family stuff or medical stuff etc. But the work still needs to get done, even if it cuts into your weekend. 

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I think the situation that you described of a student asking about work/life balance as their first question, and the earlier hypothetical of a student only asking questions about work/life balance, are both appropriately concerning. It is peculiar that in the context of a job a candidate is trying to get, their first question or only questions would be along those lines.

But, equally concerning, are the ideas that:

(1) A discussion or singular question about how a place of employment approaches work/life balance equates to a candidate wanting to limit their office hours in a way that would interfere with their employment responsibilities.

(2) It is ignorant or arrogant, in general, to place value on stable or balanced working hours starting out in the legal profession. There is a range of legal employment available, both as an articling student and thereafter, with differences in the hours expected and worked. That consideration playing a role in determining legal employment is not necessarily indicative of ignorance or arrogance, inasmuch as reasonably different views people have about, well, work/life balance.

Look, I think if a prospective articling student is going with an attitude of “I’m working 9-5, never on a weekend, and my employer needs to deal with it” that’s bunk. At the same time, I think an employer thinking the mere whiff of a student expressing consideration about how to succeed at work while scheduling appropriate personal time is a warning sign, is a problematic attitude. That should not have to be a topic that is anathema to getting a job. And I would say that challenges around mental health, actual work/life balance in the profession, and so forth exist partly as a result of an unwillingness to have, rush to judgment about, or minimization of the relevance and importance of that conversation, at all stages of legal careers.

Edited by EMP
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I think a totally legitimate question would be what a typical work week might look like for the student. In an interview that’s a great question - tells you all kinds of things you need to know and doesn’t sound like you’re unwilling to work. 

A followup with the current articled student as to the experience they are having is an even wiser course. Ask how long it’s taking them to get the hang of it. Again - gets you the info without making it sound like you are hedging. 

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20 minutes ago, EMP said:

I think the situation that you described of a student asking about work/life balance as their first question, and the earlier hypothetical of a student only asking questions about work/life balance, are both appropriately concerning. It is peculiar that in the context of a job a candidate is trying to get, their first question or only questions would be along those lines.

But, equally concerning, are the ideas that:

(1) A discussion or singular question about how a place of employment approaches work/life balance equates to a candidate wanting to limit their office hours in a way that would interfere with their employment responsibilities.

(2) It is ignorant or arrogant, in general, to place value on stable or balanced working hours starting out in the legal profession. There is a range of legal employment available, both as an articling student and thereafter, with differences in the hours expected and worked. That consideration playing a role in determining legal employment is not necessarily indicative of ignorance or arrogance, inasmuch as reasonably different views people have about, well, work/life balance.

Look, I think if a prospective articling student is going with an attitude of “I’m working 9-5, never on a weekend, and my employer needs to deal with it” that’s bunk. At the same time, I think an employer thinking the mere whiff of a student expressing consideration about how to succeed at work while scheduling appropriate personal time is a warning sign, is a problematic attitude. That should not have to be a topic that is anathema to getting a job. And I would say that challenges around mental health, actual work/life balance in the profession, and so forth exist partly as a result of an unwillingness to have, rush to judgment about, or minimization of the relevance and importance of that conversation, at all stages of legal careers.

But a place of employment doesn’t necessarily approach work-life balance in a particular way. How can it? A firm is made up of lawyers who all have different situations, needs, priorities and perspectives and are at different points in their careers. What Joe, who is a single dad and has 15 years’ experience and is invaluable to the firm for his expertise in a niche area, gets in terms of flexibility has no relevance to a 2L. Why is a 2L even asking?

As Hegdis said, a student has to get their work done, period, and it is hard for us to know how long that will take. If you’re a great student, less time than if you are average or not good. If you have a particular situation like you have to do daycare pickup at a particular time, bring it up after you are hired and ask if you can work at home, or come back to the office later when you have child care, or otherwise assure them that the work will be done despite leaving at 5 every day. 

It is going to be looked at as a bit ignorant and arrogant because most lawyers, except a few workaholics and people with no other lives outside work, value those same things. And all of us had to put in the time as students and juniors to earn a bit more time and balance. You wanting what we have now is a bit ridiculous. Generally, a student ought to know the practice areas and types of workplace that tend to be a bit more intense and can self-select. Beyond that, as Hegdis said, in whatever area you choose, you are going to have to commit to a big time commitment to learn what you need to and until you know what that looks like for you, there is no point bringing it up. 

Re: mental health - are we talking about someone with a pre-existing condition requiring accommodation, or are we talking about a general, vague concern about mental health? If the former, then once offered a position, you would have the discussion and provide the documentation. If the latter, again it is irrelevant in an interview that you have broader concerns about the legal profession. You’re there to talk about you would be a good person to be offered a position. You will have the rest of your career to address those concerns in a variety of ways. 

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36 minutes ago, EMP said:

[...[

But, equally concerning, are the ideas that:

(1) A discussion or singular question about how a place of employment approaches work/life balance equates to a candidate wanting to limit their office hours in a way that would interfere with their employment responsibilities.
[...]

You're not accounting for the competition aspect. If 20 seemingly highly qualified candidates are interviewing for 1, or 2, or even 5 spots, and 2 raise work-life balance off the bat (and the interview as a whole, not just the first question, is really "off the bat"), and 18 don't... I mean, you have to find ways to distinguish people somehow. You might not think it's fair, but that's what happens. All 20 candidates might turn out to be excellent students, but you don't know that. If someone asks a question that could be a red flag, and others don't, you need to manage that risk.

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I don't have the current experience of some other posters (PT solo, FT non-law), but I think a fair synthesis of the recent discussion is:

1. One should only ask a question if you both need/want the information, and it doesn't make you look bad compared to other applicants.

2. Or if asking the question makes you look good, whether you need the info or not.

3. If you need the information, and it may make you look bad, do you need to ask it in an interview, or can it wait until/if an offer is made?

So looking at some of the previous discussions, let's say one may need an accommodation for health (physical or mental), or childcare, or you have tickets booked for a religious pilgrimage, or a wedding, or something. Why would you ask a question about getting accommodation, or time off, or anything like that, in an interview? If an offer is made to you, you can then enthusiastically respond and bring it up at that time (re a specific pre-existing social commitment, not sure about for required accommodations when that should be brought up, at offer or hiring stage, but the point is, not in the interview!).

Asking the information like Hegdis noted about a typical week, or what does that lawyer's week look like, or assuming you get a chance to speak to an articling student asking them what their week looks like, is a much better way to get an idea without a negative impression than asking about work-life balance.

One arguable exception to the above, which I've read about before whether in the application or interview stage and mentioned in other threads is, someone might deliberately mention something which some employers might have a problem with (even if for HRC or other reasons they shouldn't!), for the purpose of trying to eliminate from consideration those who will have a problem with them. That is, it's a sort of test of the firm. For instance, hopefully not so much now, someone deliberately listing or mentioning past volunteer work with an LGBT organization because they don't want to work in an uncomfortable environment. Or listing religious volunteer work or mentioning a pilgrimage you've been on, or how at least when you have to work long weekend hours there's a church nearby you can take fit it in on Sunday then get back to work. Or someone might deliberately ask if there are any lawyers or articling students working there with young children - as a sort of test of the firm, what is the answer, how is the question perceived. I don't think it's a good idea, but I can see how arguably it might make sense for some. Or I can think of someone who'd clerked at the SCC and parental leave considerations (as an associate, they'd already clerked) were a concern, I think they may have asked about it in interviews because they knew they'd be hired somewhere even if it was a negative, but that's not most people!

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Here's a question for you all. If I'm going to reach out to people at firms I'm interested in talking to/in practice areas I'm interested in, how do I pick who to reach out to? I don't want to look like an idiot by asking a super senior member of the bar for time out of their day (that I certainly don't deserve), but also want to be able to get the most information possible about practice/firm. Is there a balance here? Look for people who went to your school? This question is especially relevant when those firms don't have a posted student committee/hiring person to ask. 

Edited by whoknows

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19 minutes ago, whoknows said:

Here's a question for you all. If I'm going to reach out to people at firms I'm interested in talking to/in practice areas I'm interested in, how do I pick who to reach out to? I don't want to look like an idiot by asking a super senior member of the bar for time out of their day (that I certainly don't deserve), but also want to be able to get the most information possible about practice/firm. Is there a balance here? Look for people who went to your school? This question is especially relevant when those firms don't have a posted student committee/hiring person to ask. 

The bar is filled with people who are happy to mentor. I hear of senior lawyers meeting with students all the time. That said, if it's a concern, picking a mid- to senior-level associate would probably be a good balance - not super senior, but experienced enough to have real information and advice. Associates are also good if you're looking for information about articling, since they'll be closer to it.

When I was playing this game, my first priority was looking for someone who did the thing I was interested in. From there, if there were multiple options, I'd look for people who had some commonality with me - same law school, did a similar type of internship, whatever. It's really not rocket science. Just look for someone who seems like they would have the kind of information you want. I don't think it can ever hurt to ask, as long as you're polite and professional.

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To get work life balance you must have a baby or a disease or be otherwise unfireable. Announce that you're now living as a gay man and then demand time off. 

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Hey, was just wanting to add a response from down the line (and also a thank you for all the feedback and thanks!)

 

1. I will happily admit to potentially putting too much thought into noticing the little things that some people do. My reason for that is because I find the game is often tight between students, and they all look so similar on paper. Finding people with good attention to detail helps because that's so often what I need from a student (or really anyone I work with) given the nature of our work. For sure it's a personal preference thing, and a great many people may not notice the small particulars I mentioned (including myself, depending on the day. I accidentally left the hose wearing black shoes with my brown belt and blue suit yesterday. I chalked it up to my level of tired).

 

2. Regarding the LinkedIn thing. I'm not suggesting it's some kind of "harm," just an annoyance that weirds me out. If I don't hire you then you're an "almost hired" connection, which is... just odd in my head. Again, I may think about these things differently. My bigger issue is that I assume it implies a certain level of over-chumminess at a time when I'm trying to figure out who to hire, which first involves mostly just figuring out who NOT to hire because it's so much easier to just cut applicants based on finding a singular deal breaker issue. Of over 70 applications, I weeded almost all of them out that way, unless they had some kind of major positive that really made me want to keep them in the race. It was only the final few where you start really weighing them entirely on their benefits because there are no more real issues to nix people. I think it's more odd than anything and I see zero benefit to doing it. Even if the best you can hope for is a neutral outcome, then why do it given the risks? Is there ever a benefit? It's like talking to the police. The best you can hope for is nothing happens to you, so just keep quiet. (also, I think when someone said there is harm they meant for the application, not in a "I've been harmed" kind of way) Admittedly, the threat reached consensus on this, I think, I just wanted to help solidify it for any students who go through this looking for an answer later. Also, I thought @barelylegal made a fantastic point that I hadn't considered, which is the optics of connecting with job applicants mid-application process. It seems so glaringly obvious now that I can't believe I forgot that social media is a two-way street of information, and it conveys to others that perhaps I'm picking a favourite in advance (after all, they won't know who asked whom to connect).

 

3. @EMP, you're not wrong about me noticing the fashion/accessory issues that I mentioned (I wouldn't mention it without taking note). Frankly, I'm not looking for extraordinary coordination, but things should come together in a way that, preferably, does not draw my attention (mostly because I'm looking for things that are wrong). If the tie clip and watch don't match, I'm probably not even going to notice, that was more of just something I do in terms of coordination which came out of a desire to blend things as well as possible and stand out as little as possible for fashion choices. A real lack of coordination overall will make me think the person is less attune to looking professional, which may contribute to a lack of professionalism (or at least a perceived lack of it by a client, which can be just as damaging if we're trying to secure one). That said, it hasn't kept me from hiring people in the past as long as everything else is there (my assumption is that students will learn). But if you're supposed to be putting your best foot forward then do so! After the interview dress down, wear funny socks, whatever. I have fun socks myself (some with the Queen's Law logo on it, one pair with sharks, one pair with mugs of beer, and one pair with a mustache. I even have fun cufflinks, like the ace of spades, scales of justice, and the batman emblem. I don't wear them very often at all, but I do have them). There's just a time and a place for everything, and I think an interview is the time and place to do things up as well as you can. If I assume what you're presenting is your best version of you, falling below that may leave me wondering if that's your maximum capability.

 

4. On the asking about "work-life balance" issue, I'll concur with the majority of the opinions in this threat. Firstly, I was talking about it in an interview context. While I'm not sure how I would answer that question (I had pneumonia for the better part of a month and showed up to work every day while coughing up blood except for one, and even did some work days that went past midnight, and I didn't see an issue in doing that to myself), I do know that it doesn't make for the best impression. Maybe the legal profession needs to reorient its priorities, but I can tell you that I, as well as the more senior lawyers I work with, are of the mind that work-life balance comes later. Early on there's so much you don't know that you need to burn the candle at both ends for a while. You need to have that level of drive and commitment. Frankly, if you have that level of drive and commitment then you'll probably do great just doing 9 to 5, but I won't get the sense that you have it if, during our short time together when I'm deciding whether or not I want you to work for me, you want to ask me about how much time you'll get to spend NOT working. That's essentially what that question is. How much time do I get to balance the "life" part of my life against the "work" part of my life, i.e. how much time do I have for things that aren't work? It's not a great signal if that's where you mind goes during our relatively short interview. Again, I've got to back up @barelylegal, I think she phrased the issue perfectly as to how it enters my mind when I'm asked that question, including about it being a potential red flag (you don't know from the interview and you're not going to follow up with "was that a serious question? Why are you asking?). I also agree with @providence and @Hegdis. It's fairly common for me to talk to my students towards the end of the day. I use that time to talk with them about what they're working on, if they need anything to help them with the job, if there are files they're interested in that they know we've had come in and they want to be a part of, if they're having any issues, and also to lecture a bit and teach them more about the practice of law and particular subject areas (whether out of interest or because they're having issues with it). I also use that discussion time to talk to them about their future plans. If they're concerned about the Bar exam then I've offered to help get them materials. If it's the NCA's then I've shared some old course outlines with them (informing them they're out of date, but it might be a helpful overview). One student expressed an interest in an area of law I don't practice, so I set her up with some time at the office of a lawyer who does practice it who was prepared to show her some things for a few days. As an interviewer, you want people who are excited about this line of work (especially if you are too). I want keeners. I want people who want to go and chat about this stuff after hours, even if they don't do it much. I'm going to guess a lot of people on here talk with their lawyer friends about this stuff a lot after hours (I know I do). Asking about work-life balance doesn't do anything to further that view. Now it's entirely possible that these individuals will still be fine lawyers, and are happy to put in the extra time, I don't know. But why raise the doubt in my mind during the interview? The question is pretty meaningless as is, but I think the doubt it might create is the worst. I'm a workaholic, so my view is skewed in terms of what work-life balance is. I'm not expecting to hire workaholics, but I'd like to hire people who are at least very interested in what we do (FYI, my firm is my life. Once you get this deeply involved in something it consumes you. Why would you share that with someone who off the bat wants to know how much time they don't have to spend there or spend doing work related things?).

 

As a slight pivot, I'm going to say that not only do I think the question doesn't help the interviewee, but I think the negative images it can conjure can be easily justified by experiences that are either first hand or anecdotal. For my first hand experience, I can tell you that I know a few people who seem completely lost in law. Their motivation appears to be lacking, every hurdle or issue they face is somehow devastating rather than a challenge to overcome, and usually blame is placed somewhere else (law school, articling, and even parents for not adequately preparing them. Seriously, I've heard these direct from individuals). The internal motivation is lacking for things like self-teaching and enduring some amount of hardship to overcome issues. Now, all that said, that comes from a place of hiring students. I've yet to hire anyone who has already practiced. Later on, if I'm doing that, and I'm hiring people with families and the like, then I completely understand where they're coming from. The question also concerns me a lot less because they're older, more experienced, and they already know the ropes well enough that I'm not worried about them having to put in extra time to get things done or get research done (the length of time it takes students to do things at the start is insane. I'm sure I was just as slow, but you lose sight of that down the road. Now I'm fine with that because it's a learning process, but then I need to know a person is going to engage in the process to learn, because I've seen what happens if they don't).

 

I don't know what to really say about the mental health aspect. I had something rather lengthy written for this, but I'm not looking to stir up that topic here. Ultimately, I do agree we have a mental health problem within the profession. Also, I have no idea what's to be done about it. I don't think work-life balance questions in an interview do anything to fix it, nor do I think that resolving that one issue alone will fix the problem (I can think of a number of factors that cause my issues to act up that have nothing to do with how long I'm at the office). So I'll just point out that, regardless of mental health issues you still have to get enough work done to either support your business and pay yourself, or else to pay for yourself at a firm and contribute towards the costs/profits of the firm (otherwise you're likely not worth it to them to give a salary to). We have minimum requirements that you must meet regardless, whether it's the requirements of the law society, the clients, or economics. That doesn't make things very amenable to solutions for cutting back on work, especially early on when it takes you forever to get things done (I know I was slow as hell at first. It takes practice). So you're going to be weary of suspicions that someone won't be able to deliver on these basics. I know I would be. I don't know what you do to control for the disproportionate effect this will have on people with mental health issues, but there it is.

 

The point is that the question, much like adding someone to LinkedIn, doesn't help you and only raises certain questions or negative possibilities. If the best you can hope for is a neutral outcome, then why do it? Also, even if you want to link that issue to the mental health issue, which I agree is majorly important, why bring that up in the interview? An interview isn't really the forum for you to air your problems, including ones you expect to have unless it's going to be something that will hinder your ability to do the job and you need the employer to know that. You could just say "I can only work 9-5" and then the employer can decide if that's fine, or maybe you need to work 10 to 2 (so you can drop off and pick up the kids from school), and then you make up the other 4 hours elsewhere (you come back to work 6 to 10, or you do the work from home or something. basically the flexibility that @Hegdis mentioned). Stuff like that you need to let the employer know. But short of that, why mention that you want to not have extensive work hours because you're concerned about what it will mean for your stress levels and the like? It's just not a good idea.

 

5. 

On 10/1/2018 at 1:52 PM, whoknows said:

Here's a question for you all. If I'm going to reach out to people at firms I'm interested in talking to/in practice areas I'm interested in, how do I pick who to reach out to? I don't want to look like an idiot by asking a super senior member of the bar for time out of their day (that I certainly don't deserve), but also want to be able to get the most information possible about practice/firm. Is there a balance here? Look for people who went to your school? This question is especially relevant when those firms don't have a posted student committee/hiring person to ask. 

@barelylegal is absolutely right. There's plenty of lawyers happy to talk to you about this stuff. I had a nice relationship with this one Barista at my local Starbucks (a Barista-customer relationship, not a dating one), and she mentioned she was looking for jobs in the legal field. So I connected her with this paralegal I know. She then got an interview but was worried that she didn't know enough as to how to do the job, so I had her come in for a day. I showed her stuff, my assistant showed her stuff, and we tried to give her a bit of knowledge as to what she could expect. I made a similar offer to this bank teller I see a lot who said she was thinking about law school. Those of us in the profession are often excitable nerds about it, and so we're happy to share our nerdism with others. You might run into a few prickly individuals, but don't let that dissuade your efforts. Also, I'm not sure the best way to approach this. I mean, if you talk to me directly, I'd say you're more likely to get my time for this. If you talk to my assistant, she'll likely pass on the message but you're more likely to get less of my time depending on how happy she is with my work output (again, good assistants keep a firm running, great assistants basically run the firm. I have a great assistant, so she's practically in charge when it's not law stuff).

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2 hours ago, QueensGrad said:

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Thanks for the response. As I've gotten more comfortable with reaching out, I've noticed just how generous people are with their time, and their coffee money. I'll have to be sure to pay it forward when I (finally) enter this profession. 

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