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2L Summer (2019) Recruit PFOs/ITCs

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On 11/10/2018 at 4:01 PM, Nayaab02 said:

First, I think BLG should not be getting as bad of a rep as it does (re Ultra Vires articles). They never pressured me to say first choice and I feel like they are doing some great work on the D&I front (as a person of colour, I personally see D&I more in terms of having an inclusive mindset then making sure there are a certain number of people of colour in the firm). I know of classmates that felt like they were pressured to say first choice, but I personally read that as perhaps them not conveying their interest enough and the firm not knowing where to place the candidate in terms of interest in the firm. No, BLG was not my first choice. 

That's an interesting observation about BLG. I know they have a lot of diversity campaigns (at least that's what I'd call them) and it is true that they do have 30% female partnership but there are very few minorities in partnership positions. They were promoting their new "diversity and inclusion" initiatives when I was in 1L and I have to say that all of my interactions with them thus far seem to fall short of what they advertise. 

I also know that, at least when I was in law school, there was a lot of talk in the Ottawa student community because they have had multiple poc/diverse articling students and yet, for several years (while they were promoting their new diversity and inclusion initiatives), not one was hired on as an associate. I think it's great that they aspire to be diverse, but in reality it's time for them to put their money where their mouth is.

Edited by TheScientist101
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It is sad that diversity is being used as a marketing and recruitment buzzword rather than as a substantive call to action.

If big law firms really cared about increasing diversity, they would realize that the lack of diversity in law firms starts at a much earlier stage than OCIs, and they would focus on giving opportunities to kids in public schools in under served neighbourhoods to develop the academic skills and obtain the resources they need to attend and succeed in university and do well on the LSAT so that they can get into and afford law school. It goes far deeper than who is on your hiring committee and not asking questions about hockey. The fact is that "diversity" in law often is superficial - we want people who have different skin tones, but largely act and think the same way. 

Edited by lioness
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16 hours ago, Ghalm said:

Congratulations! Thank you for your perspective. I too, as a poc male, was particularly impressed by firms that conducted their interviews, or meals, with an awareness that light chit-chat about various social/cultural phenomena (sports, music, travel etc.) may potentially serve as a barrier to those from social groups that do not generally have access to the capital to engage in said activities (travel, for example), or whose cultures otherwise do not allow for much exposure to said activities (certain sports, for example)! 

To play the devils' advocate though, don't you have to chit-chat about those things with clients in practice in a biglaw firm? I know that once you are practicing and earning money you may have more capacity to go to sporting events and travel so your ability to relate to wealthy clients will be different than as a poor law student, but if your "culture" is a barrier to learning about and appreciating the things the dominant culture likes, I would think that that is a legitimate reason for a firm to not hire you (and I am a visible minority and immigrant myself in saying that.) I don't think that you have to be wealthy to have traveled, or to be interested in it and have researched destinations you want to go to, or to show interest in someone else's travels. Nor do you have to be wealthy or white to watch and appreciate sports. I think sometimes we put up our own mental barriers to these things (and I am guilty of this too) more so than other people put them up for us.

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4 minutes ago, lioness said:

To play the devils' advocate though, don't you have to chit-chat about those things with clients in practice in a biglaw firm? I know that once you are practicing and earning money you may have more capacity to go to sporting events and travel so your ability to relate to wealthy clients will be different than as a poor law student, but if your "culture" is a barrier to learning about and appreciating the things the dominant culture likes, I would think that that is a legitimate reason for a firm to not hire you (and I am a visible minority and immigrant myself in saying that.) I don't think that you have to be wealthy to have traveled, or to be interested in it and have researched destinations you want to go to, or to show interest in someone else's travels. Nor do you have to be wealthy or white to watch and appreciate sports. I think sometimes we put up our own mental barriers to these things (and I am guilty of this too) more so than other people put them up for us.

100% agree. Even as lowly summer student I was exposed to clients and had to find ways to make small talk (ie: while delivering a document or waiting around at a mediation). Exposure to wealthy clients/business partners/partners at the firm happens a lot sooner than students may think and being able to chat about popular, generic topics is a skill students will need to have. That's why I don't think the dinners and receptions are as artificial and unnecessary as others may think

As a person whose prelaw background/upbringing also didnt give me exposure to travel, sports etc. I found that it was really important to attend firm tours and networking events early in my law school career - if for no other reason than to learn how to navigate an unfamiliar space and work the kinks out 

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6 minutes ago, healthlaw said:

100% agree. Even as lowly summer student I was exposed to clients and had to find ways to make small talk (ie: while delivering a document or waiting around at a mediation). Exposure to wealthy clients/business partners/partners at the firm happens a lot sooner than students may think and being able to chat about popular, generic topics is a skill students will need to have. That's why I don't think the dinners and receptions are as artificial and unnecessary as others may think

As a person whose prelaw background/upbringing also didnt give me exposure to travel, sports etc. I found that it was really important to attend firm tours and networking events early in my law school career - if for no other reason than to learn how to navigate an unfamiliar space and work the kinks out 

At least at my law school, there were opportunities to attend sessions on everything from table etiquette to golf lessons for women to attending sports and arts events at a discount. I know people like to slag off their CDOs, but ours was reasonably good at that kind of stuff. If you really wanted to get comfortable with upper-class pursuits, you could do it. Many classes also had us going to law firms, interacting with or being taught or evaluated by lawyers, and many lawyers mentored extra-curricular activities or worked with the law students' association on various projects. Extra-curriculars in law school aren't just about building your resume and having fun - they also serve the important function of exposing you to lawyers and their lifestyles. 

Of course, there is an ease to being born to it that someone cannot necessarily develop over a year or two in law school and I am not discounting that (I certainly felt that difference.) But you can at least somewhat level the playing field and show the firms that you are willing to do what needs to be done to play ball. 

 

Edited by lioness
Had another relevant thought

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1 hour ago, lioness said:

It is sad that diversity is being used as a marketing and recruitment buzzword rather than as a substantive call to action.

If big law firms really cared about increasing diversity, they would realize that the lack of diversity in law firms starts at a much earlier stage than OCIs, and they would focus on giving opportunities to kids in public schools in under served neighbourhoods to develop the academic skills and obtain the resources they need to attend and succeed in university and do well on the LSAT so that they can get into and afford law school. It goes far deeper than who is on your hiring committee and not asking questions about hockey. The fact is that "diversity" in law often is superficial - we want people who have different skin tones, but largely act and think the same way. 

i guess everyone's experience is different. i ended up getting a job through the process, my third choice though. i felt i was close for one of my top choices. i had a dinner w/ that firm. everything was going rly well at the beginning. i'm more of an extrovert than an introvert. i also know how to connect well with people. but then certain topics came up that dominated the conversation, certain sports, certain artistic things, that even though i tried my best to contribute to them and think on my feet, i felt like i could not meaningfully be part of the conversation, as opposed to the other candidates who had real experiences with the topics. these two subjects also took up most of the conversation so if there was a score being kept of how well the dinner was going amongst the candidates and myself, i felt my score stagnated hard during those two topics and the other candidates' was going up. i was born in canada, have had the luxury to have travelled to many countries, but the culture i was raised in, idk i guess i just was never immersed in a lot of activities lawyers are a part of. i'm a visible minority, i feel like it made a difference for me at least. aside from the fact that i was the only VM there, i grew up completely differently.

so yeah, i guess my point is, even if you're a great conversationalist and whatnot, you can easily perform less well than your peers if you lack certain shared experiences w/ the lawyers. if there are ways to make up for this, like some posters have raised, like attending certain seminars/events during first year, then i urge 1LS to go. but i also don't know how helpful those will be.. i think there's a difference b/w genuinely/organically learning something in a gradual fashion than learning about it in an artificial, forced setting. 

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11 minutes ago, laaasy18 said:

i guess everyone's experience is different. i ended up getting a job through the process, my third choice though. i felt i was close for one of my top choices. i had a dinner w/ that firm. everything was going rly well at the beginning. i'm more of an extrovert than an introvert. i also know how to connect well with people. but then certain topics came up that dominated the conversation, certain sports, certain artistic things, that even though i tried my best to contribute to them and think on my feet, i felt like i could not meaningfully be part of the conversation, as opposed to the other candidates who had real experiences with the topics. these two subjects also took up most of the conversation so if there was a score being kept of how well the dinner was going amongst the candidates and myself, i felt my score stagnated hard during those two topics and the other candidates' was going up. i was born in canada, have had the luxury to have travelled to many countries, but the culture i was raised in, idk i guess i just was never immersed in a lot of activities lawyers are a part of. i'm a visible minority, i feel like it made a difference for me at least. aside from the fact that i was the only VM there, i grew up completely differently.

so yeah, i guess my point is, even if you're a great conversationalist and whatnot, you can easily perform less well than your peers if you lack certain shared experiences w/ the lawyers. if there are ways to make up for this, like some posters have raised, like attending certain seminars/events during first year, then i urge 1LS to go. but i also don't know how helpful those will be.. i think there's a difference b/w genuinely/organically learning something in a gradual fashion than learning about it in an artificial, forced setting. 

It's called faking it till you make it/never letting them see you sweat. I'm a VM too and have often been the only one in the room also, and I honestly think that our own mental block about this is our worst enemy that we have to overcome. 

For some reason whenever I am faced with a room of wealthy, WASP-y people, I think of the movie School Ties, and how David worried about fitting in at the prep school because he was Jewish and working-class, and how everyone loved him before they knew he was Jewish. They thought he was "charming" when everyone else was talking about all the land their families owned and he said something like "My family has land too, but we share it with hundreds of other people"  and everyone laughed, thought it was great and realized they'd been a bit douchey. Sometimes being upfront about who you are and not trying and failing to fit in is the best approach. 

I think your problem was that you started feeling inferior when they started talking about hockey or whatever it was and you clammed up, withdrew and allowed others to dominate. There were two things you could have done: anticipate these topics and do what you could to learn about them beforehand, and then acknowledge that this was a new area of interest for you and use that to make some jokes, get credit for making the effort to learn, and segue into what you do know about, or boldly change the conversation to something that included you - learn the art of nicely pointing out that a topic is excluding you and change gears to talk about travel, which you say you have done and which is another common topic of interest. Honestly, these are basic social skills that everyone should have regardless of race or class and if we drop the chips on our shoulders and our need to have a grievance, we should be able to see that this is all it is. 

Also, you may be surprised at how many lawyers come from modest backgrounds, even if they look white and mainstream and rich now, and you may be able to appeal to their past selves more than you think. 

Edited by lioness
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16 minutes ago, lioness said:

It's called faking it till you make it/never letting them see you sweat. I'm a VM too and have often been the only one in the room also, and I honestly think that our own mental block about this is our worst enemy that we have to overcome. 

For some reason whenever I am faced with a room of wealthy, WASP-y people, I think of the movie School Ties, and how David worried about fitting in at the prep school because he was Jewish and working-class, and how everyone loved him before they knew he was Jewish. They thought he was "charming" when everyone else was talking about all the land their families owned and he said something like "My family has land too, but we share it with hundreds of other people"  and everyone laughed, thought it was great and realized they'd been a bit douchey. Sometimes being upfront about who you are and not trying and failing to fit in is the best approach. 

I think your problem was that you started feeling inferior when they started talking about hockey or whatever it was and you clammed up, withdrew and allowed others to dominate. There were two things you could have done: anticipate these topics and do what you could to learn about them beforehand, and then acknowledge that this was a new area of interest for you and use that to make some jokes, get credit for making the effort to learn, and segue into what you do know about, or boldly change the conversation to something that included you - learn the art of nicely pointing out that a topic is excluding you and change gears to talk about travel, which you say you have done and which is another common topic of interest. Honestly, these are basic social skills that everyone should have regardless of race or class and if we drop the chips on our shoulders and our need to have a grievance, we should be able to see that this is all it is. 

Also, you may be surprised at how many lawyers come from modest backgrounds, even if they look white and mainstream and rich now, and you may be able to appeal to their past selves more than you think. 

great response, thanks.

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2 hours ago, lioness said:

I think your problem was that you started feeling inferior when they started talking about hockey or whatever it was and you clammed up, withdrew and allowed others to dominate. There were two things you could have done: anticipate these topics and do what you could to learn about them beforehand, and then acknowledge that this was a new area of interest for you and use that to make some jokes, get credit for making the effort to learn, and segue into what you do know about, or boldly change the conversation to something that included you - learn the art of nicely pointing out that a topic is excluding you and change gears to talk about travel, which you say you have done and which is another common topic of interest. Honestly, these are basic social skills that everyone should have regardless of race or class and if we drop the chips on our shoulders and our need to have a grievance, we should be able to see that this is all it is

I believe this needs to be stressed a little more. I really don't see it as a difficult endeavour to 1) learn the basics of sports conversation, or 2) to be able to contribute to a conversation on travelling even if you have never been.

1) In relation to sports, I was blessed to be able to play sports my entire life. However, I have a complete distaste for watching any sports on TV, and I don't know a damn thing about what goes on in the world of sports. Leading into the weeks of the interviews I started to follow Toronto sports, and Toronto sports alone. You are interviewing in TORONTO. You don't need to know the first thing about any team other than the Raptors or the Leafs. In my opinion, 3 conversation avenues come from talking about these teams, or any team for that matter. (A) they love the leafs, but good thing you did a little bit of research to know they're not sucking as they normally do. Additionally, Toronto sports fans are normally super fans, so let them talk. (B) they hate the leafs, but good thing you know they used to suck and now you can throw some quick jabs at leafs fans. (C) they don't give a shit about sports, which is what one person told me, and at this point you can be nice and truthful and say thank god because I don't either. 

2) In relation to travelling talk, I am further blessed in that I have been able to travel. However, travelling talk can be diverted from talking about where you have been, to where you want to go and why. At this point you don't need to have any former vacations to dazzle the people you're talking to. Everyone has aspirations, or at least you should, and these travelling desires can easily flow a lengthy conversation without having to have stepped foot in another country. You can even divert a travelling conversation into one about television. You haven't been to Croatia, and everyone is talking about it, but you know Game of Thrones was filmed in sporadic parts of Croatia, talk about Game of Thrones and its everlasting glory. 

If I had to tell a future student one thing in relation to in-firm preparation it would be that your time spent finding every single piece of information on your interviewers could be better spent studying things that will definitely come up in conversation. I spoke to one interviewer about a recent case he won, but I spoke to 75% of interviewers about sports. Everyone invited to these interviews is extremely talented and smart. Law students tend to over prepare in the wrong avenues, worry, and under prepare in the realistic things. My simple advice would be to divert some attention elsewhere. On their 8th interview of the day everyone would much rather have a conversation about literally anything other than the firm's mentorship process.

Edited by FingersCr0ssed
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I'd go even further and say that if you're a normal social being who lives outside the law school bubble of spending undergrad obsessing about the LSAT and how many points you can pick up in RC and LG, and then spending law school worrying about the curve and whether your peers have more OCIs than you, you should already have picked up/worked on that basic knowledge about your local sports teams, Oscar winners, Grammy winners, Emmy winners, the Stanley Cup, etc. If your family aren't lawyers and you talk to them, you keep up with high school and college friends who aren't in law and go to parties with them and their friends, you date, you participate in community activities outside an academic institution etc, all of this should have come up. You should have had conversations about travel before. You should have recognized what your law school peers like to talk about too. I don't understand how you can get all the way to an in-firm interview and be mystified that sports might come up. I think those conversations don't measure race/class as much as they measure ability to be a well-rounded person and ability to relate to a variety of people. No one likes the person who talks about nothing but grades and the readings in law school and then what happened in court and case law once they start practicing. They want to be around people who can turn it off and just be fun sometimes.

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38 minutes ago, providence said:

I'd go even further and say that if you're a normal social being who lives outside the law school bubble of spending undergrad obsessing about the LSAT and how many points you can pick up in RC and LG.

I seem to recall actually hearing a student discuss the LSAT with an associate at dinner. To this effect I blame each and every school who fails to prepare their students for the realities of what dinner with a bunch of lawyers entails.

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Just now, FingersCr0ssed said:

I seem to recall actually hearing a student discuss the LSAT with an associate at dinner. To this effect I blame each and every school who fails to prepare their students for the realities of what dinner with a bunch of lawyers entails.

I don't think it's the schools' responsibility to teach people how to behave like human beings. If you weren't a lawyer, let's say you worked in a retail store, would you go out for dinner with a manager of another store you wanted to work in and yap all night about inventory? Would you go to a job interview and when they asked you about yourself and your interests, just talk about how awesome you are on the cash register? 😊

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1 hour ago, FingersCr0ssed said:

I believe this needs to be stressed a little more. I really don't see it as a difficult endeavour to 1) learn the basics of sports conversation, or 2) to be able to contribute to a conversation on travelling even if you have never been.

1) In relation to sports, I was blessed to be able to play sports my entire life. However, I have a complete distaste for watching any sports on TV, and I don't know a damn thing about what goes on in the world of sports. Leading into the weeks of the interviews I started to follow Toronto sports, and Toronto sports alone. You are interviewing in TORONTO. You don't need to know the first thing about any team other than the Raptors or the Leafs. In my opinion, 3 conversation avenues come from talking about these teams, or any team for that matter. (A) they love the leafs, but good thing you did a little bit of research to know they're not sucking as they normally do. Additionally, Toronto sports fans are normally super fans, so let them talk. (B) they hate the leafs, but good thing you know they used to suck and now you can throw some quick jabs at leafs fans. (C) they don't give a shit about sports, which is what one person told me, and at this point you can be nice and truthful and say thank god because I don't either. 

2) In relation to travelling talk, I am further blessed in that I have been able to travel. However, travelling talk can be diverted from talking about where you have been, to where you want to go and why. At this point you don't need to have any former vacations to dazzle the people you're talking to. Everyone has aspirations, or at least you should, and these travelling desires can easily flow a lengthy conversation without having to have stepped foot in another country. You can even divert a travelling conversation into one about television. You haven't been to Croatia, and everyone is talking about it, but you know Game of Thrones was filmed in sporadic parts of Croatia, talk about Game of Thrones and its everlasting glory. 

If I had to tell a future student one thing in relation to in-firm preparation it would be that your time spent finding every single piece of information on your interviewers could be better spent studying things that will definitely come up in conversation. I spoke to one interviewer about a recent case he won, but I spoke to 75% of interviewers about sports. Everyone invited to these interviews is extremely talented and smart. Law students tend to over prepare in the wrong avenues, worry, and under prepare in the realistic things. My simple advice would be to divert some attention elsewhere. On their 8th interview of the day everyone would much rather have a conversation about literally anything other than the firm's mentorship process.

[emphasis added]

At one firm I had researched the specific interviewers and had gone to the University of Nottingham or something, I made some minor Robin Hood joke which he just smiled slightly at, but the other interviewer looked at me like I was an alien. Explaining didn't particularly help, as it still probably seemed creepy.

Your experience was much more recent than mine, but it seems to still be the same. Specific questions about the law were rare, but almost every interviewer asked me about the sport I listed on my resume, far more interesting to all involved than a rehash of the same topics as every other interview. I agree with you that one should learn how to talk to people with different interests, as a life skill, not just for interviews.

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5 hours ago, lioness said:

It is sad that diversity is being used as a marketing and recruitment buzzword rather than as a substantive call to action.

If big law firms really cared about increasing diversity, they would realize that the lack of diversity in law firms starts at a much earlier stage than OCIs, and they would focus on giving opportunities to kids in public schools in under served neighbourhoods to develop the academic skills and obtain the resources they need to attend and succeed in university and do well on the LSAT so that they can get into and afford law school. It goes far deeper than who is on your hiring committee and not asking questions about hockey. The fact is that "diversity" in law often is superficial - we want people who have different skin tones, but largely act and think the same way. 

In fairness, some firms are working on this. Ironically enough, BLG sponsors a U of T program to provide LSAT tutoring to students with high potential from low-income backgrounds. Others are heavily involved in LAWS or similar programs. 

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Part of being a good lawyer is the ability to gracefully engage in conversation, to make people comfortable, and to direct it towards where you want it to go. If you're going to throw your hands in the air the moment the topic of conversation enters into unfamiliar territory, you might as well go home now.

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6 hours ago, TheScientist101 said:

That's an interesting observation about BLG. I know they have a lot of diversity campaigns (at least that's what I'd call them) and it is true that they do have 30% female partnership but there are very few minorities in partnership positions. They were promoting their new "diversity and inclusion" initiatives when I was in 1L and I have to say that all of my interactions with them thus far seem to fall short of what they advertise. 

It takes time. 

To have a diverse and female Partnership, you need diverse and female 7th and 8th year Associates, and to have that, you need diverse and female Articling Students who want to stick around that long. All of these inclusion initiatives (in addition to things like the LAWS program mentioned above that is being invested in) take time to incubate - and on a far-longer timeline than simply from when you were in 1L. 

Look at the conversations the firms are willing to have and to host. Look not only to if they have diverse and female partners, but if they have these people in leadership positions at the firm. Do they speak? Are they marketed and supported and boosted? Look at firms that are willing to admit their short-fallings rather than shadow-box, and which ones invest real time, effort and money into addressing them. And eventually the firms will start looking closer to the city we live in. 

 

Edited by OzStudent
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7 hours ago, lioness said:

It's called faking it till you make it/never letting them see you sweat. I'm a VM too and have often been the only one in the room also, and I honestly think that our own mental block about this is our worst enemy that we have to overcome. 

For some reason whenever I am faced with a room of wealthy, WASP-y people, I think of the movie School Ties, and how David worried about fitting in at the prep school because he was Jewish and working-class, and how everyone loved him before they knew he was Jewish. They thought he was "charming" when everyone else was talking about all the land their families owned and he said something like "My family has land too, but we share it with hundreds of other people"  and everyone laughed, thought it was great and realized they'd been a bit douchey. Sometimes being upfront about who you are and not trying and failing to fit in is the best approach. 

I think your problem was that you started feeling inferior when they started talking about hockey or whatever it was and you clammed up, withdrew and allowed others to dominate. There were two things you could have done: anticipate these topics and do what you could to learn about them beforehand, and then acknowledge that this was a new area of interest for you and use that to make some jokes, get credit for making the effort to learn, and segue into what you do know about, or boldly change the conversation to something that included you - learn the art of nicely pointing out that a topic is excluding you and change gears to talk about travel, which you say you have done and which is another common topic of interest. Honestly, these are basic social skills that everyone should have regardless of race or class and if we drop the chips on our shoulders and our need to have a grievance, we should be able to see that this is all it is. 

Also, you may be surprised at how many lawyers come from modest backgrounds, even if they look white and mainstream and rich now, and you may be able to appeal to their past selves more than you think. 

So I agree with you on faking it until you make it. And how important it is to be able to mingle and be social lol. I was able to fake it until I made it and I got 3 offers from my three top choices and took my top choice so I’m not hating on the process or calling for its end. 

The only thing is, i think people and firms should recognize that visible minorities (and others who are not from the dominant culture or class) tend to have this extra burden of having to fake it until they make it, or to exert themselves not to break down mentally due to any feeling of inferiority when they find themselves where the poster laaasy18 found himself in. Doesn’t mean visible minorities should claim victim, throw their hands up and disengage and call foul like someone implied my post was endorsing, it just means to recognize this and if you as a firm or lawyer think it’s a problem then you can adjust for it. I as a VM would commend such a recognition and adjustment, which is what I said in my post in response to hdosajhn’s post that you quoted.

For example, lenczner scrapped its receptions on the basis of a similar idea as described above. I even think they specifically referenced a precedent jd article that talks about these same things as one avenue of critique against the oci process. This adjustment to their process I think is commendable. You may disagree, you’re welcome to do so. 

Edited by Ghalm
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3 hours ago, providence said:

I don't think it's the schools' responsibility to teach people how to behave like human beings.

I’ve always referred to networking as being a normal human being and remain mystified by those who think otherwise. I think implying that networking is this separate and distinct think from general relationship building is harmful to less privileged students since literally the only people who refer to being a normal human being as networking are professionals. 

 

 

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I also think there's a difference between making small talk/socializing to break the ice, during dinners, or while you meet people at receptions, and doing it for the entirety of an interview (in-firm or OCI). I think that testing conversational skills is important but when firms make the effort to at least ask one to two behavioural questions in an interview, it signals interest in learning about your other hard or soft skills. Did I have to fake it in some scenarios? Definitely. But I was significantly more interested in firms that after a few minutes of small talk or talking about my interests (modern art, music, film), would politely transition to resume questions or ask me if I had any questions. If they don't do this, they're literally just hiring based on who can make the best rapport with interviewers based on common interests. That's where class/race/cultural differences are exacerbated in the process.  

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9 hours ago, lioness said:

It's called faking it till you make it/never letting them see you sweat. I'm a VM too and have often been the only one in the room also, and I honestly think that our own mental block about this is our worst enemy that we have to overcome. 

For some reason whenever I am faced with a room of wealthy, WASP-y people, I think of the movie School Ties, and how David worried about fitting in at the prep school because he was Jewish and working-class, and how everyone loved him before they knew he was Jewish. They thought he was "charming" when everyone else was talking about all the land their families owned and he said something like "My family has land too, but we share it with hundreds of other people"  and everyone laughed, thought it was great and realized they'd been a bit douchey. Sometimes being upfront about who you are and not trying and failing to fit in is the best approach. 

I think your problem was that you started feeling inferior when they started talking about hockey or whatever it was and you clammed up, withdrew and allowed others to dominate. There were two things you could have done: anticipate these topics and do what you could to learn about them beforehand, and then acknowledge that this was a new area of interest for you and use that to make some jokes, get credit for making the effort to learn, and segue into what you do know about, or boldly change the conversation to something that included you - learn the art of nicely pointing out that a topic is excluding you and change gears to talk about travel, which you say you have done and which is another common topic of interest. Honestly, these are basic social skills that everyone should have regardless of race or class and if we drop the chips on our shoulders and our need to have a grievance, we should be able to see that this is all it is

Also, you may be surprised at how many lawyers come from modest backgrounds, even if they look white and mainstream and rich now, and you may be able to appeal to their past selves more than you think. 

I do not think this is an appropriate characterization of the issue. This issue being a question of a “basic skill set” is not all that it is. This places all the burden on individuals from underrepresented social groups.

While certainly, being personable, kind, and charming, may be considered a basic and valuable skill set for this profession, I do not think a dominant culture informed by certain racial, class, and gender groups that can repeatedly alienate unndrepresented social groups is just something those from said underrepresented social groups should just suck up and deal with lol.

Such a dynamic exists, and from my perspective I think it ought to be changed to the extent that it can be changed.  To be thinking of how to be more and more inclusive and open to underrepresented social groups is, I think, an important objective of the profession. This objective may very well be advanced by adjusting the interview process in terms of questions or kinds of activities a firm hosts.

I am happy to hear your viewpoint is coming from a visible minority perspective. It’s also important to know we don’t all have the same ideas on this issue. 

Edited by Ghalm
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