In-Firm interviews can be an ordeal, overshadowed by the daunting prospect of trying to convince the country’s elite law firms that they should give you one of a vanishingly small number of summer jobs. I have several friends for whom this was a harrowing process. From the beginning, my experience was different. I had more in-Firm invitations than my schedule could accommodate. My experience was a privileged one. But an abundance of choice is both a blessing and a curse.
I was assured by everyone I spoke to that, once I got to Toronto, both the firms and I would get an intuitive sense of whether or not we “fit” with each other and that this would help me make my decision. I was skeptical, but it was comforting to think that there might be something subjective to fall back on. Because, by this point, all of the firms I was interviewing with were objectively desirable.
It is true that, in some of my interviews, I quickly recognized I personally wasn’t the right candidate. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky in all of my interviews. The legal profession is full of talented, remarkable people. My law school peers are a testament to that. And the Toronto community is no exception. At the end of Tuesday, when I realized it was very likely that I would get an offer from two exceptional firms, each of which I knew—subjectively—that I could have loved working at, I experience a rational paralysis. Mine was not the blessing of fitting in only once. I wasn’t prepared for the emotionally draining pressure of deciding between two equally accomplished firms, filled with wonderful people.
Nobody in this process likes to talk about their prospects. In an environment of heightened anxiety, it’s a meaningful way of respecting each other. It’s also a survival strategy in case things don’t turn out well in the end. Because, as law students, we are practiced managers of risk, and we don’t like to admit our chances—either to our friends, or ourselves—until they are glaringly upon us. The downside to this is twofold: (i) there’s the possibility that you might temporarily isolate yourself from the people whose advice you could use most; and (ii) you may not be prepared to confront the type of choice that I had.
I am very happy with the decision that I ultimately made. And I actually enjoyed this process a lot. However, I didn’t make my decision alone, and I owe a lot to those of my friends who had gone through this process already, and whose advice was invaluable to me in reaching my decision. Fit is important. But it is hard to assess in two and a half days, and I envy those who “fit” with only one firm. For me, this process has taught me to be frank with myself and to draw on the remarkable people around me. Some of them were friends going into this process, others I met a week before. The legal community is full of people willing to listen and talk. Like the rest of your legal career, this isn’t a process to go through alone.
Ontario Law Student Class 2016