Harassed at OCI: Do I Go on the Callback?

September 8, 2009 by  

advice-badinterview-featureQ:  I just finished my first round of OCI screening interviews.  I am in the top 10% of my class and on an honors journal, so I’ve actually received a few callback requests and may have a chance at landing an actual offer this fall.  There’s one firm—top top tier Big Law, shall remain nameless—that’s the always been my dream firm and I did get a callback.  The only problem is, the screening interviewer was a total, total a*hole.  He was aggressively flirting with me in the interview, practically leering at one point, and made two disgusting comments, including one about female attorneys who get pregnant. (And before everyone jumps down my throat, I was conservatively dressed, not revealing skin, and was acting professional and appropriate in the interview, so please save the “she was asking for it” analysis, thank you.)  I reported his behavior to my school’s career services office and they were appropriately horrified.

My question is: Should I even go on the callback?  This firm has always been my dream firm and is big enough that I might never see this jerk again—but what if I do?  What if he thinks that I’m supposed to “reciprocate” for him getting me a callback once/if I start working there?  Do I even want to work at a firm that would allow some pig like this to interview potential associates?

A:  Congratulations. It sounds like you have officially nabbed the Most Inappropriate OCI Interview Award for your school’s 2009 Fall OCI season. Well done. For this honor, you can expect your story to make the rounds among every 1L and 2L at your school—not to mention junior associates at firms nearby—for the next three to five years. (In my 2L year, the winner had an interviewer from a major firm who kept sounding off about “the Jews,” followed the next year by an interviewer who was fully drunk by 11:30 a.m.)

Now that you have this honor, the first thing you need to do is calm the hell down. See, here’s how OCI interviewing works at big firms: Ideally, two folks from the firm’s recruiting committee, usually one partner and one associate, are scheduled to be on campus. But then, at 6:25 that morning, their actual jobs get in the way and one or both of them have to bail last-minute. Because, as monumentally important as it may be to spend 10 hours in a stripped hotel room listening to law students who have no chance of getting hired talking about their life-changing experiences working with their school’s Immigration Law Clinic, the promise of a few hours of client billable work remarkably wins out almost every time. So, then, desperate for a last-minute replacement, the firm dispatches That Guy.

That Guy is the one you just met. He’s usually Of Counsel—or an income partner at best—and hasn’t been allowed to interact with associates, much less clients, in at least a decade. No one quite knows why they keep him around at the firm; chances are, he’s some sort of Big Firm Savant or his wife’s last name is either Goldman or Sachs. Either way, he has some time on his hands, but as foul as those hands may be, they’re pretty harmless.

Now, there’s no doubt your That Guy acted totally, wholly inappropriately. Good call reporting him to your school’s career services office—if for no other reason than to have it on the books to protect yourself. Now, drop it. Go on your callback. Who knows why he called you back—if you’re at the tippy top of your class like you claim, you were probably marked for a callback before you walked in the room. Or maybe he just liked your boobs. Who cares? You got the callback at your dream firm. The firm won’t let him interview you again (especially if your school follows up with the firm about the complaint) and it’s not like he’s going to corner you in the lobby and demand a blow job for the callback that he had next to nothing to do with in the first place.

Of course, there’s the issue of whether you actually want to work at a firm that’s so callous that it would send this lawsuit-waiting-to-happen to woo its young recruits. You don’t, probably—but not because of the unfortunate That Guy encounter. Sorry to break it to you, but working in Big Law, especially your “top top” Big Law firms, isn’t quite the dream party that you might assume it is. Why is this firm even your “dream firm”? Because other law students said it was? Because it has a high Vault ranking? Come on. Once you actually get in the door, you’ll see that most fancy, big firms are basically the same. The work’s the same, the pay’s the same, and the people, including the douchiest players, are the same. Every firm has its own version of That Guy. Consider it a boon that you’ve already identified him.

So, go kick ass at your callback interview. Smile, be charming and keep the body jewelry to a minimum. And if you actually do get an offer, stop worrying, put the bad interview out of your mind, and just take the money and run. A couple of years from now, when you’re on your sixth straight day without sleep, surrounded by stacks of due diligence, That Guy and his limp, pathetic law-firm lothario schtick will be least of your worries. Trust me.

Good luck!

Need advice? Email our Sweet Hot Counsel at counsel@sweethotjustice.com.

Comments

12 Responses to “Harassed at OCI: Do I Go on the Callback?”

  1. Guano Dubango on September 8th, 2009 5:48 am

    Yes, I sympathize with you. But all men are not bad. If you are young and nubile, you have alternatives. I have LLM from Georgetown, and if you are interested in marrying me, bearing me children, and returning with me to live with my Aunt Ooona in Ghana, this can be arranged.

  2. Bill Dugan on September 8th, 2009 6:59 am

    I used to do OCI’s. It was a way to meet the best female law students a school had to offer, which usually is not much.

    So of course a young lawyer, hoping against hope to find some top shelf beef, and then winds up landing with a morass of fat and grizzle, is going to be disappointed, and even surly particularly if he is giving up a full day and potential billables, to meet a bunch of overstuffed porkers who may think they are hot, but are zero’s in the real world, where there are legal secretaries who are more than willing to put out after a beer or two, and then keep their traps shut at work the next day.

    My advice: Don’t sweat it. If you get a job at the firm, chances are the guy won’t even remember you from the next porkball that walks down the hall.

  3. El on September 8th, 2009 11:21 am

    Completely inappropriate. The interviewer I mean, not you. Your school should, if they have not already done so, contact the firm and report this behavior. As much as firms may feel they have the upper hand in the current market in terms of hiring associates, once the markets turn around and firms are clamoring to hire “the best of the best” from law schools again, stories like this can poison a firm for years. Don’t feel that you need to shut up and take this behavior, its not the norm.

  4. Anonymous on September 8th, 2009 12:08 pm

    Oh El, lighten up. He may be a jerk, but so are about 95% of the lawyers out there. She’s gotta learn sometime what the profession is like.

  5. Anonymous on September 8th, 2009 1:44 pm

    what firm was this? was it paul hastings?

  6. Jz. on September 8th, 2009 3:54 pm

    At my 1L OCI, a partner from White & Case decided to conduct the interview on the “terrace” of the terrible hotel room that was set up as an interview room, and then purposely positioned me in the blaring 100 degree sun so that I was squinting the entire time, and then proceeded to look down my chest the entire interview. I didn’t even get a call back, so consider yourself lucky, I guess ; -)

  7. sls67 on September 8th, 2009 10:32 pm

    How can anybody “dream” of a job in BigLaw fresh out of law school unless it is to make a lateral into …. something with a future?

    Does this woman not pay any attention to what BigLaw really is – a machine that has evolved to bill clients enormous sums of money for what is seldom – strike that, never – better than they could get for less elsewhere, and all too often simply mediocre work by committee?

    And if her goal is to make the best possible lateral, why not go for that job NOW (unless there are student loans, of course – but she didn’t mention them as a consideration)

  8. Al DeRogis on September 9th, 2009 6:48 am

    JZ, why were you even going to the interview dressed with your boobs hanging out? Trust me, no one wants to look at a law student’s boobs. There are plenty of good looking babes in the hotel bar whose boobs ARE worth slobberting over, so there was no need for the guy to stare at yours, especially since you were likely doing anything to attract attention to them. I suggest you didn’t get a call back because you exposed too much of yourself at the interview. Sorry honey, this is not 2006 anymore; you have to have it upstairs in the head, not in the chest to get a job these days.

  9. Al? on September 9th, 2009 12:14 pm

    Huh?

  10. Guana on September 13th, 2009 11:18 am

    Guano is my husband and he should NOT be frequenting this website in search of a female. I am already married to him. He is not eligible for another wife.

  11. Jeanine on January 17th, 2010 4:22 pm

    May a lowly former legal sec who has both temped and worked perm at many top tier firms be allowed some comments here? First, in my family (step-father, now deceased, and 2nd cousin) were/are top Harvard Law grads. Step-father was a malignant narcissist and the cousin mildly narcissistic personality disordered – so don’t be easily impressed with big firms and their partners as appearances are deceiving and mean ZILCH.

    Too, don’t ever forget that birds of a feather, fly together, so yes, if your interviewer was an asshole that’s the culture of the firm with the few exceptions of partners who are there solely for the pay and ignore the antics of their colleagues. For example, a huge top tier Atlanta firm where I worked “excused(?)” a Sr. partner who downloaded kiddie porn to a printer shared by 6 people no less than THREE times before they finally sacked him. Considering this type of individual has to be separated from the general prison population for fear of murder by fellow inmates while incarcerated says a lot about that firm and it’s partners who would turn a blind eye to that type of behavior, doesn’t it? A firm’s hiring committee which (it is hoped) is comprised of partners collectively having any morals at all would never dream of sending an idiot to conduct interviews. There is only one chance to make a good first impression, and that includes the firm too — not only you, so trust your instincts. I once asked a hugely successful recruiter the secret of his success. “It’s simple,” he said, “just figure out the personality type of person(s) responsible for hiring and send him/her/them a clone. People want to work with other people LIKE THEMSELVES.” Take heed his advice.

    I hate to burst the bubble of the too many male attorneys who believe legal sec’s are working not only for their cheque but also in the hope(?) to service their sexual needs as we secs KNOW your wives married you ONLY for your paycheck as that’s ALL you have to offer another human being, isn’t it? Seriously, it’s not as if you are a nice man or anything remotely truly desirable. GIven your long hours at the office it’s common knowledge amongst us that your wife lucks out insofar she has to spend far fewer waking hours with you than does your secretary and has oodles of “free” time to spend your $$$’s, raise your children and sleep with the instructor of whatever her athletic endeavor. Interestingly, every legal sec I’ve ever met who slept with her asshole boss was as either as NPD or psycho as he, with NO exceptions.

    I always felt sorry for the young, new associates to the big firms who arrived bringing idealistic ideas about law and lawyers knowing that within three months they’d be overworked and on the road to becoming jaded about their chosen profession – especially once they heard the office gossip. But don’t despair as smaller firms are usually comprised of former partners from those top tier firms you now covet who left their former employ because they ARE decent people who wanted HAPPY LIVES and have successfully made their own way. They may not pay as much, and you won’t brag as loudly to your classmates, but you won’t regret your choice to practice law.

  12. Laura on August 9th, 2013 11:04 am

    I wonder if this woman joined the firm and is well on her way to partnership? It’s been 5 years, so she’s surely lost her innocence by now to one or more of the firm douchebags.

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