Tuesday, September 9, 2008

End? Every end is a new beginning!

So my previous entry was about my search coming to an end. In truth, I am back in the market. The reason? Well, I had accepted the previous position with a conversation that the law clerk position would transition into an attorney position. Well, what happened? The law clerk position DID transition into an attorney position; in fact, after only a week! BUT the pay remained the same... and I was told that the pay would increase at the end of August. So I slogged through cases without any training and fought and even won several immigration cases! I was showered with praise by a few of my clients, all the while still trying to manage on my own (stay afloat) with absolutely NO training and a law clerk's salary.

At the end of the month, the time came where my salary would catch up to my workload. Instead, I received the "well, we want to wait another month" talk because I had missed a couple of "office policies" like checking out a file before removing it and I had ended up coming in a little late on two occasions. Never mind the fact that I always stayed hours later, and I had an hour and half commute with buses and trains and could not perfectly time my entry every time. Well, I suppose I should take it more positively and more as a warning sign that I should *never* be late if I can help it, regardless of how hard I work on my cases, how I do in court, and how my clients feel about their representation, I should still pay attention to details and maintain the same professionalism as I would on a job interview.

So what would happen had I waited another month? Would my salary still remain at the law clerk level and would I receive the same "we want to wait yet another month" talk or would I finally get the rate which other attorneys with similar responsibilities were already making starting out? Worse yet, what if after 3 months of working as an attorney on a law clerk salary, I am told to leave? What if. . . .? There was no guarantee with this job especially with someone postponing what I believe is not a "raise" but salary that is already earned.

I don't know if I did the right thing in the end, but I decided to leave that firm and look for a full time attorney position. So I gave a week's notice and informed my boss that I could not stay at a law clerk's salary for longer especially since I was already doing attorney work. I left on good terms and wrapped up my case load as much as I could, and trained a new attorney who is starting on a law clerk's salary.

So today I had another interview. This interview was with an immigration firm similar to the firm I left (worse, but probably with better pay). I felt a funny feeling in my stomach about this firm. When I received the interview call, they wanted me to come in the next day at a specified time. I asked if any other days or time were available or if that was the only one and I was told that it was the only time available. I took it. I did not make that mean anything more than "they are busy." After the initial question or two and a quick glance through my resume, I was asked how many hours I worked at my previous firm. I answered honestly (9.5-10) as I always do. I was quickly told that this had a high turnover rate and expected attorneys to work a minimum of 12 hours. I only responded with an "okay." I was told that attorneys were expected to work on hundreds of cases at once and had a very high stress environment. Again I nodded that I understood. I was then questioned on my caseload at the previous firm and the type of work I did. At that point, I discussed my work and pointed out my writing sample, which was a brief I had written at the previous firm. The interviewer, who was not an attorney, scoffed and asked what basis I had to prepare this Waiver application (I-601), "children?" "No," I responded, "physical and mental health issues." I know through some work on this waiver that waiver applications prepared using children rarely succeed (legally, the only hardship that is considered for this waiver is on the petitioning spouse), but I did not mention it. He proceeded to poke a bit more into the waiver and scoffing immensely each time. Then he said only 5 such applications had ever been accepted. This is something I know to be false, but I did not mention it, and instead lightened the atmosphere by laughing and saying "I am glad I did not know that when I prepared that application."

To top it off, when I got home, I called the receptionist to ask if I could have the email addresses of the people who interviewed me so I can write a thank you note. I wanted to email a note so that it reaches them faster, and I wanted to convey that I was confident that I was going to be able to meet the firm's job requirements just in case they had suspicions based on my neutral response to their statement of the work requirements. As soon as the receptionist gave me the email addresses, she said "wait. hold on" and then asked me the purpose of the email, which I informed was to write a thank you. She said "because, they said it needs to be pre-approved in order for you to email them.

I don't know why, but I suspect that I may not get that job. If I do, I suppose I am curious to know how much it would pay. However, I am also a bit afraid to get that position because I may actually be tempted if it pays a lot. I am almost sure that it would be a miserable place to work.


Diana said...
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Quest said...

Interesting interview story. Why was a non-lawyer interviewing you anyway? They say you never know how an interview went until you get/don't get the offer... So you'll just have to wait and see! Some of my interviews were great (or so I thought), but I still didn't get an offer.

MissAlexa said...

Ugh I am having flashbacks reading your stories! I went on a few interviews right out of law school and they were similar. I think that was the reason I decided not to sit for the bar back then.. I was so disgusted with the law practice over all that it completely turned me off for a while. It's such a cut throat career and sometimes I wonder why the heck I even went to law school!