Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Counting Down To The Last Post....

Could you post your thoughts on gunners with poor aim? I think those poor souls who try so hard to be gunners but whose answers are so completely inane and/or off topic deserve some blog space.

Excellent topic. I have been meaning to post about a former classmate of mine who fit this description to a T…

Most law students fall into one of two categories: Those who came to law school for better career options and those who came because they didn’t know what else to do. A very small minority of law students came of another reason altogether; they have a genuine interest in learning about the law. (Quick sidebar: Many people will claim to have a genuine interest in learning about the law, but most are just fooling themselves. If law school didn’t offer better career options than a liberal arts degree, then they wouldn’t be there. And if they say otherwise, they’re full of shit and well on their way to being a successful lawyer).

But there was one guy in my class (we’ll call him “Darren”) who was in law school first and foremost because he wanted to learn about the law. He was middle-aged and left his successful career on a whim to go to law school. He was eager and enthusiastic and hungry to learn. He always had a bounce in his step and was always ready to discuss that day’s reading, or any other topic so long as it related to the law. He loved law school for what it was. This would have been somewhat refreshing, but his newfound love affair with the law gave rise to three annoying traits which drove his classmates crazy.

1) He took every opportunity to volunteer not as an option to speak, but as a duty. Often he would raise his hand before the professor even asked for volunteers, ensuring that he would be heard before anyone else had a chance. He approached class like there were two people in the room and thus, many classes devolved into one-on-one conversations between him and the professor. Now this wouldn’t be so bad, except…

2) He was one of those guys who liked to research topics outside of the reading, and bring that information to the classroom discussion. But that wasn’t the problem (although it’s totally gunnerish). The problem was, he usually got way off track with his research, confusing the issues, and often the professor in the process. It wasn’t that he was trying to expand the topics; he just missed the mark. It would be like if you asked someone to explain the impact of the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series on Boston sports fans, and they came back with a report on the Patriots winning the Super Bowl. Related? Somewhat. Relevant? No.

3) He had no Time-Left-In-Class Awareness. Countless times he broke the unwritten rule that you are not allowed to raise your hand in the last five minutes of class. The ends of classes would become anxious with him around, everyone nervously shifting their eyes back and forth between the clock and his right arm, hoping he didn’t have anything left to say. When he would raise his hand, there would be an audible groan, which didn’t deter Darren in the least.

One story that I have perfectly describes the Darren experience. Fall semester of my 3rd year, I took Landlord/Tenant Law with Darren. The class met for two hours one afternoon per week. During the last class before exams, with 15 minutes left, the professor passed out a sample essay question and told us to just identify the issues. Since I hadn’t read a page all year and had yet to study for the final, I had no idea so I just kept on surfing the internet while my classmates dutifully identified the issues. After ten minutes, the professor told us to stop because she wanted time to go over the correct answers.

“Would anyone like to share their answers?” she asked as Darren’s hand shot up. She looked hesitantly at him for a second, knowing all too well there this was going, and undoubtedly regretting offering him the option. But before she could change her mind, he launched into his list of issues.

Instead of sticking with the expected landlord/tenant issues, Darren went all out. He found legal issues that fell under commercial paper, secured transactions, contract law, and civil procedure. Conspicuously absent, however, were many landlord/tenant issues. The professor interrupted him, in an attempt to reign him in, but he couldn’t be stopped until he read all 16 issues that he found. He finally finished, pleased with himself. All 70 people in the room were staring at him, with the same look of confusion and amusement on their faces. A few people snickered, and one person was loudly laughing at Darren’s answer. (Okay, that was me.)

“Um…well,” the professor said, choosing her words carefully. “You should have found five issues in this question, all of which pertain to landlord/tenant law. How many landlord/tenant issues did you find?”

“Two, but…”

I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up and left. To my surprise, half the class followed my lead, leaving the poor professor and an oblivious Darren there to discuss how civil law would apply to landlord/tenant situations in our common law state.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This Won’t Be The Last Post, But...

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the posting on this blog has become sporadic lately. Both contributors have been dealing with some serious personal issues.

Russ recently had an old girlfriend return to his life with twin sons he never knew he had. The old girlfriend is no longer in his life, but she left the twins to him to care for.

Mike is experiencing advanced kidney failure and is desperately awaiting a transplant, and he just can’t find the humor in life anymore.

This isn’t the last post, necessarily. If Mike finds time between dialysis treatments, or if Russ finds time between cleaning spit-up off of his shirt and trying to support this new family, they may post something from time to time.

May your prayers be with them.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Job Search Post #7

For some people, especially those out in the working world, this post is going to go straight into the “No shit, Sherlock” category. But for other people, those na├»ve souls still lucky enough to be sheltered away in undergraduate or graduate schools, or the even luckier jerks whose family connections ensure that their next cushy job is just one phone call away, I came to learn a hard truth over my three-month job search: Employers treat job seekers like shit, and there isn’t anything you can do about it.

I could make a list a mile long of my grievances, but I’ll stick to the three worst instances:

1) I had an interview with one company that was scheduled for 2:30. Like a good little candidate, I arrived ten minutes early and was instructed by the secretary to take a seat in the lobby. So I sat down and waited….and waited….and waited. I kept pulling my cell phone out of my pocket to look at the time. 2:30 came and went, and no one came to get me. By 2:40 I was annoyed. By 2:50, I was furious. The fact that the secretary sat 15 feet away from me but made no attempt to find out what the delay was or even acknowledge my wait only added to my anger. I decided that if 3:00 came and I was still waiting, I was going to leave. After all, if I had shown up a half hour late to an interview, would I have a chance at getting the job? Of course not.

I was staring at my cell phone, rooting for 3:00 to come so I could justify leaving. Finally, and to my chagrin, at 2:58 the guy came out to get me. By this time, I was livid and I had no desire to be there, but I decided to give him one more chance; if he apologized for the wait and gave me an explanation (even a bad one would have sufficed) I would have been appeased.

We sat down, he looked at his papers and said “So you’re my 2:30?” I told him that I was. And with that, he launched into his questions. I decided right there that I was no longer interested in the job, and my answers reflected as much. I gave short, sometimes monosyllabic answers to all of his questions; I told him that I wasn't really interested in the industry; and the only question I asked him was about vacation time. Twenty minutes later, the interview was over. My whole experience there led me to believe that it would suck to work there. That impression was solidified when, an hour after my interview ended, they called and invited me back for a second interview. Given how intentionally bad I had made my interview, I certainly didn’t want to work for any company that would have that version of me as an employee.

2) In early September, a little more than a month into my search, my first really good opportunity came along. The job was a good combination of my undergraduate and law degrees, they were hiring multiple people to make up a training class; and it paid well. For the first time in my job search, I found something that I was actually interested in and I prepared accordingly. I’ll spare the details, but the interview went very, very well. The guy I spoke to was so impressed that he went and got his boss to meet me. The big boss and I hit it off as well, and spoke for almost a half hour. Among the topics of our conversation was how important professionalism is in that company, and how important it is to treat coworkers with dignity and respect. I dutifully agreed with him, and he passed me back to the original interviewer. We spoke a little longer, and he sent me on my way. As I left, I was sure that I would get the job. So sure, in fact, that I decided to take a break from job search activities for the rest of the week, and I even started to splurge on some nice new clothes to wear to my job (not suits though).

The following Monday, there was an message in my junk mail folder from the HR department of the company. I opened it, and was treated to the following:

Mr. [Mike],

Thank you for your interest in the [job I interviewed for] position with [the company]. We regret to inform you that we cannot offer you a position at this time. We will keep your resume on file in case something else meeting your qualifications becomes available.

Human Resources

What happened next was like the five stages of job rejection. At first I was in denial. This email read like some generic auto-response that I received when I submitted applications to other jobs which I never interviewed for. Surely this must be some sort of mistake. "Maybe I should call the HR department and get it straightened out," I thought.

Next there was disappointment. I was so sure that I would get the job, I had mentally gotten away from the job seeking mindset and moved back into lazy relaxed mode. The prospect of going back to the job seeking grind was not a pleasant one.

Next, I got confused, because my interview had gone great. I had every single qualification they were looking for, my law degree actually brought something to the table that impressed them, and they were hiring five people. Sure, one person could be a better candidate than me. But five? No way, not for this job in this market.

After that, I got pissed. I accepted the fact that they didn’t want me. I can take rejection. But it was the way that informed me that made me mad. They didn’t have the decency to call me, mail me a letter on company letterhead, or even send me an email from a real person. They sent me a generic rejection letter from an email address I couldn’t even respond to. I wanted to call the guy I interviewed with and tell him to be a fucking man.

Finally, I accepted it, but I wanted answers. I figured that if I wasn't going to get the job, I at least wanted to know why. Over the next two weeks I left four voicemails for the guy I interviewed with, none of which were returned.

Professionalism my ass.

3) About a month ago, before I was offered the job I eventually accepted, I responded to a job posting in the Sunday paper. It wasn’t particularly interesting, but it was a decent opportunity, so I figured I might as well apply. The next day, Monday, I got a call from that company, asking if I could come in for an interview the next day at 4:00. I accepted, and was happy to find on mapquest that the company was located in the office park across the street from my apartment complex. So at 3:50 I hopped in my car and drove across the street.

By 4:05, I was home.

What happened? Well, I walked in and was directed to a conference room. A minute later, some guy walked in and introduced himself, and asked for a copy of my resume, which I handed over, freshly printed on high quality resume paper. He looked it over and asked me about my experience in the field. I told him that I had none, and launched into my spiel about why I was uniquely qualified because I went to law school, blah blah blah. When I stopped, he said, annoyed, “Okay, but the job requires at least three years of experience.”

“Then why did you call me for an interview?” I asked.

“Uh….Not sure, to be honest.”

“Oh, well that makes sense,” I responded sarcastically.

“Sorry,” he said, as he stood up to indicate to me that it was time to leave.

“Not to worry,” I told him as I also stood, this time in an overly cheery manor. “I’m sure it happens all the time.” He looked at me blankly for a second, then finally got that I was making fun of him. As I was walking out the door, I stopped and said, “One more thing…I want my resume back.” I snatched it from his hand and left the building.


So those are my stories. What are yours? Send me your best job seeking stories to barelylegalblog@gmail.com, and we might post a few of the best.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sworn Into the Bar Today

So, I'm officially an Esquire.

I've joined the elite ranks of Bill S. Preston and the only men's magazine that doesn't have nudity and yet still manages to sell copies.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Job Search Post #6/Random Rant #9

You know what really bothered me more than anything during my job search? Having to wear a suit to interview with a company where professional dress is not required for the job. There are few things more awkward than wearing an uncomfortable business suit when the guy across the table from you is comfortably kicking back in some Dockers and a polo shirt. If the job doesn’t require you to wear suits to work, then why wear one to the interview? (Also, why do we wear the same suit in warm weather as we do in cold weather? No one else wears jackets when it’s 90 degrees, except crazy homeless people. Shouldn’t it be a sign that something is wrong with a social trend when the only other subset of people who follow the trend are the mentally unstable?)

My question is, what is the point of wearing a suit? It’s all well and good if professional dress is required for the job, because if you are required to wear a suit to work, wearing one to the interview proves you own the proper wardrobe. But if the job is business casual, wouldn’t you want to look business casual? Just because it makes you look professional doesn’t mean you are professional. The only thing that wearing a suit signifies for certain is that at one point in your past, you purchased a suit. It’s not as if owning a suit is prestigious. Suits are not a scarce commodity, only sold to those people with the dignity and class required to wear such a fine piece of clothing. Suits are getting cheaper and cheaper to purchase. It won’t be long before Wal-Mart is marketing a suit, shirt, and tie combination for $49, meant to be worn to custody hearings and weddin’s. Any idiot can put on a suit and have someone tie their tie for them. Employers can’t possibly gauge any real level of professionalism from what they wear to an interview.

Maybe it has some other aesthetic qualities, but so what? Lots of things look nice. Can’t we come up with a more comfortable way to dress well? Whenever a suit is considered proper attire, it is undoubtedly an important event (interviews, business meetings, trials, weddings, funerals, and so on.) These events are the most likely places where a man is going to get nervous. So why did we settle on the most uncomfortable combination of clothing to be the proper attire for formal and professional events? It’s like a cruel joke. “Hey, let’s take a heavy fabric, like wool, and make a jacket and a pair of pants out of it. Then we’ll make a shirt out of cotton to wear underneath. But we don’t want that shirt to be too comfortable, so we’ll add starch to it, so it’s stiff and rigid. Then, we’ll take a long silk piece of fabric and tie it tightly around the neck, thus constricting breathing. For shoes, let’s not give any padding or support, so as to limit comfort. Then we’ll make it pretty much mandatory for men to wear this crazy costume to every important event in his life.” Now tell me, does that make any sense?

People say, “clothes make the man”, but if anything, it’s the contrary. After all, a genius in sweatpants is still a genius, and an idiot in an Armani suit is just a sharply dressed idiot.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Recent IM Conversation

Reader: That wasn’t very nice to call Courtney an ignorant slut
barelylegalblog: I didn’t really mean it, it’s a classic pop culture reference
Reader: I’m not familiar with it
barelylegalblog: Well you’ve proved your ignorance…was that the only part of it you were offended by?
Reader: Haha, I may be a slut but I’m not ignorant
barelylegalblog: Your parents must be proud
Reader: Why?
barelylegalblog: I guess I’d rather have my daughter be known for her ignorance