Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Biglaw callback reception--do I need to go?

Hi JDU, I'm a long-time observer, first-time poster with pandyfackler08/03/17
No one has the answer, it turns on human experience. Clearly physicssezno08/03/17
Yes, you'd be a fool not to go. In fact, you need to go and jeffm08/03/17
I agree. Firms are looking for more than brains. Business an mrtor08/04/17
Don't care what your LSAT score was. You're an idiot if yo themapmaster08/03/17
I would 100% be there in a second looking to make polite eng t3success08/03/17
Agree with all other posters. If you're serious about the jo specv31308/04/17
Thank you all for putting things in perspective. I guess I w pandyfackler08/04/17
Drink one before you go, nurse one while there. Do not go in vohod08/04/17
Ahh ok dude. Read what I wrote below and this. How-To fo isthisit08/04/17
OP, are you a socially awkward patent attorney by chance? I hairypalms08/04/17
It is all part of the interview process. If you make it past thirdtierlaw08/04/17
Last sentence is important. It'll feel like you're a fake a wutwutwut08/04/17
For some reason "socially awkward patent attorney" strikes m wutwutwut08/04/17
Hard choice here papi. I can share in your desire to use isthisit08/04/17
My law school had an admitted-students cocktail hour at the 3lol08/04/17
I actually don't think anybody cares whether you attend. The ichininosan08/04/17
based on what you said so far, you haven't received an offer dingbat08/04/17
Here are your choices: Don't go and make them not like yo nighthawk08/04/17
Truer words have never been spoken. You will get a lot of ba mrtor08/04/17
Give me a break. Nighthawk is an agent provocateur around he vohod08/04/17
You need to go. This is part of the schmoozing game, to see cranky08/04/17
Look at it this way: If you got a callback, that means you'r onehell08/04/17
This question is so absurd I have to assume OP is a troll. O trickydick08/04/17
While it's not mandatory, it's potentially another reason to interveningrights08/04/17
Thank you all for your helpful advice. The pebble in the sho pandyfackler08/04/17
"I'm primarily interested in admin law and healthcare compli inho2solo08/05/17
UPDATE: I went to the callback reception earlier this week a pandyfackler08/19/17
For what it's worth, you seem cooler in this post than you d 2breedbares08/19/17
agreed dingbat08/19/17
Haha thanks. Cussing is pretty cool; almost as cool as smoki pandyfackler08/20/17
I'm glad the reception and your callbacks are going well. I brassica708/20/17
Guess it depends on the firm. Larger places with fairly reg inho2solo08/20/17
Let's be honest, does anyone here actually work in a firm wh 3lol08/20/17
Swearing is relatively rare at my firm. I've heard the occas brassica708/20/17

pandyfackler (Aug 3, 2017 - 10:01 pm)

Hi JDU,

I'm a long-time observer, first-time poster with a burning question that Google has failed to answer. As the subject line suggests, I am a 2L in the midst of OCIs that was just invited to a callback interview with one of those top 10 mega-firms that are all the rage with kids these days (and from the insider reviews I have read, it actually sounds like a pleasant firm to work for, relatively speaking). Anyway, the firm also asked if I would be able to attend one of its upcoming callback receptions after my interview; indeed, the firm expressed "hope" that I would attend. The thing is, I would really rather not, both because it would be logistically inconvenient, and because I feel very socially awkward in cocktail party-type situations where I do not know anyone. In fact, if I do go, the feeling of discomfort will likely drive me to say something I think is funny at the time in order to break the ice, but which will seem extremely dumb upon later reflection. Unfortunately, this has been a recurring pattern in my social life.

So my question is this: if I politely decline to attend one of these receptions, do you think the firm will hold it against me when the time comes to make offers? Thanks in advance for any guidance you can share.

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physicssezno (Aug 3, 2017 - 10:27 pm)

No one has the answer, it turns on human experience. Clearly, you're asking the question because it's reasonable to expect that when a potential employer invites you to a reception connected to hiring you it expects you to attend.

You'll probably go.

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jeffm (Aug 3, 2017 - 10:40 pm)

Yes, you'd be a fool not to go. In fact, you need to go and look good. It either needs to happen now or later, but you need to get comfortable in social circles. If nothing else, this will be good practice.

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mrtor (Aug 4, 2017 - 9:25 am)

I agree. Firms are looking for more than brains. Business and client development depend upon relationships. If you are going to succeed in private practice, you need to be comfortable mingling or at least fake it well. You are almost certainly out of contention if you refuse to attend. Why not go and get some practice?

I agree that it can be difficult to chat up a crowd of strangers. As others have mentioned, bringing a cute date goes a long way. You have someone to fall back on when things are slow. You also have another voice in the crowd to keep conversations alive (with a perspective and background more interesting than the cookie cutter legal one of most attendees). Absent a date, certainly chat up the other prospective associates and firm associates. They know what it's like. Ask them about law school, work experience, sports, etc.

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themapmaster (Aug 3, 2017 - 10:53 pm)

Don't care what your LSAT score was. You're an idiot if you don't go to the reception under these facts.

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t3success (Aug 3, 2017 - 11:02 pm)

I would 100% be there in a second looking to make polite engaged talk and close the job. Always be closing.

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specv313 (Aug 4, 2017 - 12:59 am)

Agree with all other posters. If you're serious about the job, then the idea of passing on the social mixer seems moronic. No offense, really, it's just surprising that you'd actually contemplate skipping based primarily on momentary social awkwardness. Suck it up for an hour or two and go.

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pandyfackler (Aug 4, 2017 - 2:10 am)

Thank you all for putting things in perspective. I guess I was thinking that the reception is technically optional, and its just another opportunity to slip up, so I might be better off nailing the interview and leaving on a good note. Of course, if I do that, someone else will nail the interview AND make a good impression at the reception.. I always try to rationalize things like this, so I appreciate the reality check.

Anyway, I've never been to one of these law firm mixers before, and mingling with complete strangers is challenging enough without the pressure of knowing that my job prospects depend on it; do you guys have any suggestions about how to approach it? Dos and don'ts?

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vohod (Aug 4, 2017 - 6:39 am)

Drink one before you go, nurse one while there. Do not go in acting awkward or tense. Don't be "that guy" who woofed down 3 drinks in an hour.

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isthisit (Aug 4, 2017 - 7:51 am)

Ahh ok dude. Read what I wrote below and this.

How-To for Conversation/Social Settings.

1. Ask questions.
2. Nod/Smile/ooo & ahh/ and occasionally restate their sentences.
3. 80/20 conversations. They do 80% of the talking and you add some commentary or ask questions to further the interaction along during the remaining 20%.

People love talking about themselves and sh!t they like. If you hit on the right social vein than they will talk your ear off and come away feeling like they had the best conversation with you.
4. If you're handsome
/fit than people will give you leeway with this and be more receptive to you in conversation, just a fyi.
5. If you're there alone and are having a hard time getting a conversation going than find a small group that looks friendly. More men than women. And literally go in there and say "Hey guys, I don't know anyone here. My name is Isthisit, mind if I sit with/join you guys?" I've done this a couple times at CLEs and no one has ever told me no. Then just bullsh!t with the group and try to branch out when you can.

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hairypalms (Aug 4, 2017 - 6:51 am)

OP, are you a socially awkward patent attorney by chance? I have met many in my career! I think if you want the job, you need to go. No one likes doing these social events, but it comes with the job.

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thirdtierlaw (Aug 4, 2017 - 7:10 am)

It is all part of the interview process. If you make it past year 3 at the firm, they'll expect you to be building relationships with clients. If you can't get through a mixer with law students then they won't want you.

I'm not being flippant when I say this, Google articles on how to make small talk or how to talk to anyone.

Networking and small talk is a skill that can be learned.

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wutwutwut (Aug 4, 2017 - 7:13 am)

Last sentence is important. It'll feel like you're a fake at first, but keep at it.

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wutwutwut (Aug 4, 2017 - 7:11 am)

For some reason "socially awkward patent attorney" strikes me as redundant.

What's that old joke? Ah, here:

Q: How can you identify an extraverted patent attorney?

A: When he talks to you, he looks at YOUR shoes.

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isthisit (Aug 4, 2017 - 7:17 am)

Hard choice here papi.

I can share in your desire to use your time for something else but you should probably go. It shows interest in the firm and its people.

1. Do not get slushy.
2. Do not eat drippy food (pastas, soups, stuff with a lot of sauce on it). Stick to foods that are least likely to stain your suit/shirt/tie.
3. Nurse the same 1-2 drinks. Then start drinking coke or whatever.
4. Chat with other possible summers and associates and if you're a smooth social pimp, than move onto seniors/partners.
5. If you can bring your broad, do so. Especially if she's fine. She'll be someone you can chat with and will ensure that you look like a well adjusted young man.

Full Disclosure: I'm former in-house turned slum lord/small (sh!t?) law and the closest I've come to big law is walking by the Cravath offices on 50th on my way to the theater district. So YMMV.

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3lol (Aug 4, 2017 - 1:57 pm)

My law school had an admitted-students cocktail hour at the office of Ropes and Gray. Haha, talk about setting false expectations.

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ichininosan (Aug 4, 2017 - 9:28 am)

I actually don't think anybody cares whether you attend. The receptions are organized by firm recruiting folks who usually have no input in the hiring process and the partners who make the hiring decisions don't have the bandwidth to note who did or did not attend the reception (assuming they even attended). The point of these receptions is to recruit, so that if you get an offer, you'll be more likely to accept. All of that said, it really couldn't hurt to pleasantly chat with a lawyer or two who may or may not have a say in who gets an offer.

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dingbat (Aug 4, 2017 - 10:40 am)

based on what you said so far, you haven't received an offer yet. Therefore, attendance is mandatory.

Pro-tips:
- order a rob roy or some other non-alcoholic cocktail. That way it appears as if you're socially drinking, without the risk of inebriation.
- As has been said, be careful what you eat. Nothing that can drip or has a risk of splattering. Also try and avoid things likely to get stuck in your teeth, such as spinach. Take a few throwaway toothpicks, in case you need to fix yourself
- keep breath mints or breath freshener on you at all times, and use liberally
- try talking to a variety of people, but let them do the talking. Ask people what practice area they're in and what that's like. What their typical day is like, or what their progression in the firm was like. Ask what kind of hobbies/interests they have outside the firm - and maybe chat a little about those topics.
- start by talking to fellow candidates, then move on to associates, before reaching out to partners. Anyone you know by name, use it. Anyone whose name you don't know, repeat it back to them several times during the conversation. People like to hear their own name

oh, and if you have anxiety issues, stick a pebble in your shoe, that way you're preoccupied with the pebble and not focused on how uncomfortable you are (disclaimer: I am a social flutterby, but a friend of mine does this and it seems to work)

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nighthawk (Aug 4, 2017 - 11:00 am)

Here are your choices:

Don't go and make them not like you.

Go and introduce yourself to the people of consequence and otherwise keep your mouth shut.

Choose option 1 and end up doing doc review.

Choose option 2 and have a real chance at a career.

People who do doc review will tell you option 1. People who enjoy having real jobs will choose option 2.

Bottom line: if doc review is the direction you want to go in then 1, if not then 2.

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mrtor (Aug 4, 2017 - 12:35 pm)

Truer words have never been spoken. You will get a lot of bad advice from people who screwed up the very same chance you being given. Play the game, try to fit in, and see if you end up liking it. If you don't, you will have other options. Don't just sabotage yourself like so many have on here.

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vohod (Aug 4, 2017 - 7:29 pm)

Give me a break. Nighthawk is an agent provocateur around here. Going to this will not ensure a career at the firm any more than not going will ensure a life in doc review.

That said, OP needs benzos or mindfulness exercises if he can't handle social hour. Once hired these niceties are over.

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cranky (Aug 4, 2017 - 11:48 am)

You need to go. This is part of the schmoozing game, to see if the people there can get along with with and see you as part of the team. Start out my approaching other awkward-looking people who are alone.

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onehell (Aug 4, 2017 - 12:23 pm)

Look at it this way: If you got a callback, that means you're qualified on paper. But so are lots of other folks. So now it boils down to how much you can get people to like you, which is what they euphemistically refer to as "fit."

At worst, the event won't make a difference, but at best it's an opportunity to score some points. So as long as you don't get drunk or spill food on yourself, it can't hurt and can only help. So suck it up. There'll be lots more events like this if you become a summer associate anyway, so it can't hurt to get some practice.

If these events intimidate you, just set a small and manageable goal for the event, like, your goal is to introduce yourself to just one partner. One tip for that is that people love to talk about themselves. Just ask him his story, how he/she came to work for the place, what they love about it, etc. Once you have had at least one meaningful conversation with someone who matters, you can give yourself permission to leave.

You might also want to talk to your career services office. They are pretty useless at getting jobs for most students, but when it comes to someone who already has a real and genuine shot at OCI already, they can be helpful.

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trickydick (Aug 4, 2017 - 1:29 pm)

This question is so absurd I have to assume OP is a troll. Of course attendance is mandatory. If social anxiety issues are giving you cause for reservations, get out of the legal profession now. It is all about social interaction, usually stressful and unpleasant.

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interveningrights (Aug 4, 2017 - 2:04 pm)

While it's not mandatory, it's potentially another reason to no offer you.

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pandyfackler (Aug 4, 2017 - 7:17 pm)

Thank you all for your helpful advice. The pebble in the shoe idea is interesting, but sound like it could be distracting; I might give it a test run beforehand. I would bring my wife with me to this thing, but she'll be working; honestly, its for the best, because I'd probably just talk to her instead of meeting people. Also, I actually haven't studied patents, I'm primarily interested in admin law and healthcare compliance, but I will take that as a compliment--all the patent attorneys I've met are smart, well-adjusted people. To trickydick: nope, not a troll. I actually had a career in social work before starting law school, so my social anxiety is very situational. I have no problem socializing with people in ordinary settings (even interviews don't make me too nervous), but there is something about formal networking events/social mixers that I find very uncomfortable, especially when I don't know anyone that can introduce me to people. I've usually managed to avoid going to these things in the past, but I guess it is time to learn the ways of the socialite. I don't want this to be the only thing holding me back from a legal career.

Anyway, thanks again for your collective wisdom; I do feel more confident now after hearing from you all and talking to my CSO.

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inho2solo (Aug 5, 2017 - 10:25 am)

"I'm primarily interested in admin law and healthcare compliance"

This is a decent route to end up in a nice in-house gig.

Agree with the people above who say you can study up pretty quickly on techniques to get you past the "when I don't know anyone that can introduce me to people" hurdle. Which, by the way, is not an uncommon problem. Just remember your classmates in attendance are in the same situation.

I would not bring your wife unless she was explicitly invited, and maybe not even then. You appear to be a second career lawyer, and should be aware of the ageism in law, especially at the V10 biglaw level. Don't do anything during the interview or mixer that reminds people of your age or marital status. And if you haven't already done so, make sure your resume doesn't do so, either (too late for the current interviews, of course).

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pandyfackler (Aug 19, 2017 - 3:22 pm)

UPDATE: I went to the callback reception earlier this week and I think it went swimmingly. I talked to a lot of different people, but mostly chatted with a group of associates that seemed like the sort of people I might be friends with IRL. Actually, all of the interviews seemed to go perfectly and I feel pretty confident about my chances of getting an offer. Unfortunately, based on my OCI/callback experience so far, it seems like my subjective confidence bears no relation to whether or not I progress to the next stage (might even be an inverse relation...)

I've had 4 callbacks so far, and have 5 more to go in the coming weeks, so hopefully something will pan out. Yesterday, I had callback with another firm that I am extremely interested in, and I feel like I absolutely crushed my interviews, but I think I might have blown it during the associate lunch by getting too comfortable. Both associates were guys around my age, and we were having good mix of serious and funny conversations, getting along really well, but I swore a couple of times (though I wasn't the first to swear). Neither of them seemed put off by my colorful language; both laughed and our conversation continued as before, but I worry that I fell for the lunch trap... Anyone have opinions on this? If I were the associate taking an interviewee out to lunch, I would not give a f*** what language is used (within reason), as long as he/she seems sharp and is entertaining to speak with, but it seems like the sort of thing that would get an interviewee rejected in most circumstances.

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2breedbares (Aug 19, 2017 - 6:29 pm)

For what it's worth, you seem cooler in this post than you did previously, and worth hiring.

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dingbat (Aug 19, 2017 - 8:43 pm)

agreed

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pandyfackler (Aug 20, 2017 - 2:09 pm)

Haha thanks. Cussing is pretty cool; almost as cool as smoking.

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brassica7 (Aug 20, 2017 - 4:00 pm)

I'm glad the reception and your callbacks are going well. I doubt you blew anything by swearing at lunch, especially if the associates used such language first. These interviews aren't games with traps laid for the unwary. Firms just want to see if people seem like a good fit for the firm, could make a good associate, and are decent to talk with. It's more of a general thing, than an event with rules and points awarded.

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inho2solo (Aug 20, 2017 - 4:16 pm)

Guess it depends on the firm. Larger places with fairly regimented/structured interviewing systems have lunch hosts watch for things like indecisiveness when ordering from the menu, excessive pickiness (asking for substitutions), etc.

Not sure where swearing would fall into that. Likely if OP had shown offense, that would be a downcheck. Otherwise either of just ignoring it or responding in kind should be okay.

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3lol (Aug 20, 2017 - 6:09 pm)

Let's be honest, does anyone here actually work in a firm where swearing isn't commonplace?

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brassica7 (Aug 20, 2017 - 9:57 pm)

Swearing is relatively rare at my firm. I've heard the occasional cuss, but it's not common. It's a relatively large firm.

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