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LegalJob recently learned of the following rejection story.  LegalJob featured the follow-up advice (to the junior associate) in Monday’s mailbag series.

 

Q:  I interviewed at [big firm x] after my friend who works there suggested to the firm that my background and experience would fit in well with the lateral associate position available.  I thought the interviews generally went well.  The people I met with were pleasant and it was clear (to me anyway) that my experience made me very qualified for the position.  I received a form rejection letter that surprised me.  My friend says that the firm has decided not to fill the position at this time but the firm will keep me in mind in the future.  I am not sure what to make of that.

 

Answer:  LegalJob suggests that the letter does not have to be the end of the story, especially if you felt a connection to the people and you were still interested in the position.  Try the following steps:

Call a couple of the folks you interviewed with and ask them to provide you some feedback about your candidacy/interviews

  • Consider calling someone from firm management whom you met and the most senior person in the group for which you were interviewing.
  • Perhaps these folks will tell you that the interviews went well but the firm changed its course (and decided not to hire anyone) for a reason not related to you.  Alternatively, they may share with you something about your interviewing style that could benefit from some fine-tuning.

Request (in writing) to be reconsidered for the position (either currently or whenever the firm decides to hire someone.

  • Write a concise but specific letter detailing why your experience makes you a great fit for the position.  You should also articulate why your background and personality makes you a great fit for the firm, given its culture, etc. (as expressed to you in your interviews).
  • Consider having someone write you a specific recommendation letter for the position (which may be hard to obtain from your current employer if they do not know you are interviewing).

Request to be considered for a contract position in the department (as opposed to a full-time associate position).

  • If the firm accepts, you have a chance to demonstrate your skills and to determine whether the firm is a place where you want to work as an associate.  Both parties benefit.
  • Assuming you are a strong performer, the transition from a contract attorney to an associate attorney seems like a no-brainer.

Reach out to the other attorneys you met during your interviews and request to meet for coffee.

  • These attorneys may provide additional feedback that could be helpful.
  • These attorneys may have friends/colleagues at other big firms looking for an attorney with your skill set.
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