Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Yesterday, I interviewed for a job as an associate at a big New York law firm.  Have I lost my mind?  Did I forget all that I went through last year, including the crying on the floor in a towel incident? Um, I hope not.

I need to find a job.  If I wait until the end of my sabbatical comes and goes, it will get significantly harder for me to find a job, since I am completely and officially unemployed.  So, I started to panic.  I met with a headhunter, revised my resume, and told her what I wanted -- ideally, a firm that was open to part time, or a full time in-house job where the lifestyle would be drastically different.  She called me back and told me that the only opening for someone with my experience was at a huge New York law firm notorious for burning out associates.  I politely said no, thank you, but to let me know if there were any other opportunities.  I waited, and the days of silence stretched into weeks.  Then, I found out that a partner at my old firm, who I liked, was moving to a different firm.  I took a deep breath, bit down hard on the bullet, and asked him if he needed associate help at his new firm.

We had a conversation, the result of which was a resume emailed by me, and an offer for an interview by HR at his new firm.  Now came the hard part -- describing why I left my old firm.  I should mention here that I am staunchly against lying.  I was not going to say that I wanted to do something I didn't, or that I left for a reason I didn't.  I figured that if I did that, not only would it come across as insincere, I was bound to cross my wires at some point.  Plus it just makes me horribly uncomfortable to lie.  And this job interview was making me uncomfortable enough as it was.  My sister and brother-in-law are here visiting, so the four of us engaged in a little job interview role-play the other night.

Kathy: So, why did you decide to leave [old firm]?
Me: Because of [name of partner who tortured me].

Nope.  Try again.

Kathy:  So, why did you decide to leave [old firm]?
Me:  I needed some time to regroup after so many months of torture.
Brother-in-law: You can't say regroup.  It sounds like you had a nervous breakdown or something.
Sister:  You also can't say torture.
Me:  But I did kind of have a nervous breakdown!  And it was torture!

Nope.  Again.

Kathy:  So, why did you decide to leave [old firm]?
Me:  Well, I started to get the sense that my practice group wasn't as valued at the firm as it had been in the past.  So I decided, when they offered the sabbatical program, that it was a good opportunity for me to take a step back and clarify my career goals.  I wanted to see whether I wanted to continue with this type of law, and if so, whether I wanted to do so at [old firm].  After a few months of thinking about these things, I decided that I did, in fact, want to continue with this type of law, but that [old firm] wasn't really a place I could progress long-term doing that, since it seems like the firm had shifted their focus away from this practice.

A winner!  It also has the benefit of being true.

And now, I wait.  Hanging over my head while I wait is an issue, which I think is not entirely uncommon for people who are waiting to hear about a new job, not working, and not completely broke.  I'm trying to cram in visits to all the people I promised to visit before I get a new job, so that I don't end up having to take three vacations in my first month of work.  Or worse, cancel three vacations because of my first month of work.

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