Friday, August 28, 2009

LIVEBLOG: Callbacks Talk (Redux)

Background: Career Services is going to lay some wisdom down on how to ace your callbacks. WB 154 is about 3/4 full. A few 2Ls have told us they have class (in more ways than one) - but lucky for them UVA Law Blog is on the case. I stand out here, the old man that I am.

12.04: And we are off - a PILA rep is here, explaining how you can stay with family and friends and have your law firm donate money to PILA to fund their grants.'

12.07: Donovan: "We want every callback to magical - and make the process as least stressful as possible." The format will be some common questions, and then some answers.

12.08: Donovan: "Taking notes is fine, but don't do anything that detracts form the interview."

Here's the rundown, according to the Dean - you'll typically start in morning. And - for the love G-d - think about what you are taking with you. You don't want to be carrying around that bottle of water all day to the interviews...

Q: Are students disadvantged by waiting to schedule a callback?
A: YES. Better early than later. Donovan doesn't think that firms will break the 45-day NALP rule, but "If there's ever a year where a firm would be tempted NOT to honor the guidelines, this would be it." Don't delay the decision process, and rest on the fact that you have 45 days.

Q: How many callbacks on a given trip?
A: (Lawson) Try to do one a day if you can, but if you want to combine two in one day, you can - just give yourself enough time to get from point A to point B. And be sure to let the recruiting coordinator know if you're doing two callbacks in one day so oyu can get out of ther eon time.

(Donovan) "Know yourself - two of these in a day is an endurance contest."

Q: Who will I meet?
A: (Donovan) Lots of people - everyone you talk to: the recruiter, the associates, the name partner - everything will play a role in you getting an offer. (Lawson) There could be some last minute changes

Q: What should you have with you?
A: (Lawson) "Extra copies of your resume, transcript, writing sample, and references. Chances arethe firm will have these things," but it's better safe than sorry.

Q: How should I prepare?
A: (Lawson) Do more research than you would than for a would for a screening interview. (Donovan). "Most of the things that you vitally want to know - financial health of the firm, are you actually going to have a summer program, work-life balance - are best saved until after you have an offer."

Questions about practice areas and sub-practice areas - ask questions that "show foresight and underscore the progressions your going to go through as an attorney."

(Lawson) "Anything that is on the NALP-form - such as compensation or billable hours requirement - is off the table."

(Donovan) "Anything that is on your resume that could be a springboard to a legal discussion, be ready to talk about it."

Q: If you have no ties to the area, what do you do?
A: (Lawson) "Think about how you can articulate your ties to the area - perhaps by linking to the practice area or some other aspect of the firm. . . but don't over-exagerrate or misrepresent facts that are not there. You also want to stay away from the 'boyfriend or girlfriend is in the area' - that sounds bad." A response like that is just not good enough.

Q: Splitting summers - talk about it at callbacks?
A: (Donovan) Probably not - better to get the offers first, and then try to negotiate. "In a year like this I would think about splitting very very carefully - it would be dangerous to do in a year like this when there are going to be more competition for fewer spots."

Q: How soon after callback is offer extended?
A: (Lawson) Depends on the firm . . . some firms will do it fast, some will wait until they have seen everyone from UVA. The firm should give you some indication at the callback; if not, it's fine to follow up with a phone call.

Q: What's the likelihood a callback = offer?
A: (Donovan). "Before last year, about 60% of callbacks converted into offers, and our sense is that UVA did a little bit better than that. Last year it was 49%." Of course last year was a weird one as financial institutions failed during the middle of callback season. "If I were a rational law firm this year, I would cut back the number of callbacks I would do, which would increase the ratio. Is that what's going to happen? Who knows . . . I would be cautious about canceling callbacks in this particular year."

(Lawson) "If you know that you're never going to work at this firm - don't go, cancel the callback . . . it will help your classmates."

Q: Thank you notes?
A: If you're going to do them, you should do them to pretty much everyone you touch - and that includes the recruiter." Keep them short, i.e. thanks for meeting with me, very excited about the prospect for working with [the firm]. "They have to be perfect - make sure the person's name is perfect, the firm name is perfect." Email is fine - just do it where it would be least likely to make a mistake?

Q: How do I express enthusiasm?
A:(Donovan) Very carefully - don't go around telling every firm it's your first choice, but act interested. (Lawson) Be yourself, know yourself. "Incorporate your talking points and themes, but don't do it at the expenses of being a robot . . . they're looking for someone who they can spend a night with in the Newark Airport . . ."

And now, some questions from the audience . ..

Q: "What about those of us who are not sitting on a plethora of callbacks?"
A: (Donovan) "Be an expert on the firms where you do have callbacks." (Lawson) "Don't panic if you don't have callbacks - firms may be waiting this year - some firms have said they are not extending callbacks until after labour day." (Donovan) "If you are in extreme anxiety about the process, come talk to us . . we'll talk about where we can go from here. We'll talk about what else we can do to address this."

Q: When should you follow up if you don't hear after a callback?
A: (Donovan) "I think a week to ten days . . . say something short to let them know that you're still out there, and you're still interested."

Donovan and Lawson thank everyone for coming.

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