LegalJob is one year old — what has it learned (part two)

This post is the second of three that marks LegalJob's one-year anniversary.  This post covers the second of the three most frequently asked topics/questions.

Another of the most frequently asked questions is in the area of follow-up.  In general, the question is what is the best way to go about following up after an interview.  The question has been asked in different ways, including:

  • After an interview, it is a good idea to send to the firm a writing sample (even though the transaction which the memo was about was not discussed at the interview)?
  • After an interview, do I send my thank you e-mail to everyone I met or just the people that I would be working with?
  • How long should I wait after my interview before contacting the firm if I have not heard back?  What should I say when contacting them?

The key to effective follow-up is to provide the person you are contacting a sufficient reason to get back to you (and the obvious corollary is that you do not want to supply any reason for the person not to get back to you).  Below are some ideas:

► Send a substantive item such as a writing sample.

  • Make sure everyone who you interviewed with receives a copy.
  • Ok to send even though the transaction that the memo was about was not discussed in the interview.
  • Ok to send even if a writing sample was not specifically requested.  It could only help to go above and beyond what was requested.
  • Make sure the sample is perfect (clear writing and no typos) and has been reviewed by at least one other person (sometimes you can miss easy mistakes on your own document).

► Send typed or hand written thank you letters.

  • No e-mails!  Demonstrate that you are the type of person that always goes the extra step no matter the task.
  • Write to every person with whom you met.  Yes, everyone, including the human resources person and perhaps other admin types to the extent you spent any time talking with them (or they helped you in any way, like they took your coat).
  • The perfect letter will be short while conveying that you were actually paying close attention to the person while they were talking.  Did they mention something about their practice?  Something they appreciate about the firm?
  • Hopefully, you remembered to ask a meaningful question or two, and if so, and you liked/remembered the answer, perhaps you can comment on that.
  • Include a sentence or two about how exactly you can contribute immediately (and you are able to answer that after learning today some new piece of information about the firm).
  • Write the letter within hours of meeting everyone so the details are fresh.
  • Drop in the mail (consider going to the post office to ensure quickest delivery) that night or the next morning.
  • If possible, you may also consider dropping by the firm the next morning to deliver your letters personally to the front desk (with everyone's name typed on separate envelopes).

► Do not wait for the firm's response if you do not hear anything after your thank you round.

  • Follow up (either by phone, email, or formal letter, depends on how you last communicated with them) with an update for your file that would improve your candidacy.
    • Have something substantive such as a recommendation letter, new grades (As), accomplishment at work, etc.
  • Watch your tone (soft versus aggressive).  You understand it is a busy time for the firm and you appreciate their continued consideration.
  • Ask if there is additional information you could provide that would be helpful for your candidacy.
  • If you are considering several firms, provide this information and explain your timing requirements.

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