Interview with a vampire

Angie Robertson graduated from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2010. She has experience with public interest law, family law, legal document review and sales.  When she is not reading or writing about law, she enjoys live music, exploring Chicago, watching roller-derby, and spending time with her husband and her dog.

Attorneys who have spent any time doing document review over the past few years know that it can be poorly received on a resume. If you are lucky enough to get an interview for a legal job outside of the document review world, you could spend half the interview explaining exactly what document review is.  You could also be faced with a myriad of questions about when the last time you did actual legal writing or appeared in court was. And, if that time was over a year ago when you were in law school, you might spend the entire interview feeling a little foolish for having put on your good power suit and taken time off your doc review job to go talk about your glory days from the past. Biting questions like these can make a doc review attorney feel like they need to carry around wooden crosses and garlic spray. So what do you do when, despite your impressive resume, you find yourself in an interview with a vampire?

When interviewing for more traditional legal jobs, attorneys who have been doing document review can face an uphill battle. Discovery is such an important aspect of the litigation process. The work is by no means easy. Typically, each case requires learning a completely new, usually scientific subject matter, cast of characters involved in the case, and area of law. Nonetheless, what happens in e-discovery is largely invisible to attorneys who do not regularly work in this area. If an interviewer asks why you were only at your last job for less than a month, what the size of your caseload is like at your current position, or exclaims, “That sounds awful!” after you explain what document review is (all of which have happened to me during interviews), what can you do to prevent major blood loss from the bite wounds?

My best advice is to take your cue from one of the best, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Keep a close network of friends that you can (usually) trust and who will allow you to vent about all of your near-death encounters with people who devalue the work done by document reviewers. Don’t give up. People do find meaningful legal work after spending years in document review because many firms do understand that it takes a quick-learner who is goal-oriented, persistent and disciplined to last in the document review world. Finally, hone and display your “slaying” skills. Highlight writing, research, client counseling and trial work that you’ve done on a volunteer basis since graduation. Most of all don’t be ashamed of who you are and where you came from.

Remember, it is literally a battlefield out there. If you are used to getting the job whenever you get the interview, things have changed; it’s not necessarily you. If some interviews left you feeling “drained,” I have two more suggestions. Try scheduling your next one during daylight. Also, wear silver.

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One response to “Interview with a vampire

  1. As someone working in a non-traditional legal job, I am dreading the prospect of trying to explain what I can offer should I ever find myself interviewing for a job in litigation – this was a very relevant read! I would add that how you feel walking away from the interview is a good indicator of what it would feel like to work for that firm. If you don’t feel so hot about the interview it’s not such a terrible thing if you don’t get the job. As much as you need the paycheck, you don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t appreciate your expertise and recognize your potential!

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