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    « No fixed address | Main | Are you being served? »
    Monday
    Aug282017

    Snowshoeing

    Clerkship applications ... Finding something to talk about in the interview ... Slots on the partners' cards ... Cocktail evenings in high-heels ... Barely Legal busily reformatting paragraph indentations 

    "You're so lucky," a later-year JD friend once told me. "Your hobbies are really weird. The firms will love you."

    This was clerkship application logic if I'd ever heard it. Thing was, she was probably right. When you and two hundred of your closest law school frenemies are all applying for clerkships at the same corporate firms, you'll milk anything to stand out. Up to and including eccentric extracurriculars. Footy and going to the movies won't cut it. We're talking steam trains, tropical horticulture and Dalmatians. 

    For good or ill, Barely Legal does have a weird hobby. It's a sport unusual enough that it's potentially identifying, so let's just pretend that it's competitive snowshoeing. In any other job market this would be a footnote. More likely, it'd be cut altogether in the quest for that elusive two-page resume. But on a clerkship CV? 

    "Snowshoeing? What? OK, put it at the top." This from my law school's careers advisor. "They'll definitely ask about it, and then you'll have something to talk about in the interview."

    This was great news - God forbid they ask me any questions about the law.

    Her eyes scoured the remainder of my resume with clinical detachment. "Oh good, you went to a public school. The algorithm will be looking for low socio-economic indicators." 

    I laughed. She didn't. 

    I decided it was good to know that some firms outsourced the earliest rounds of the hiring processes to a machine. I spent the rest of the afternoon reformatting the paragraph indentations on my resume to achieve mathematical perfection. 

    Fear not if by this stage you haven't managed to tell HR about yourself in excruciating detail, because the simple act of filling out mandatory biographical questions on the firm's website will remove any doubt that you're entitled to a life free from corporate diversity quotas. 

    Are you LGBT? Are you Indigenous? Do you identify as a gender other than male or female? What extenuating circumstances, physical or mental, have prevented you from achieving higher marks? What is your ethnic background? Do you have any outstanding infringements? Does anybody really love you?

    But these kinds of drop down boxes were easy compared to drafting the cover letters. Weeks were lost, civilisations fell. Whispers began spreading about the existence of a magical template, available only - like everything at the law school - if you knew the right people.

    Rumour had it that the use of this template would guarantee you at least two interviews rounds. Yet as far as Barely Legal could tell, the firms actually intending to hire people by interview were rarer than a $4 coffee.

    I could brace myself for the online psychometric tests and the discursive answer sections (Please reflect on the rule of law in Australian society in 150 characters or less). But the cocktail evenings were another matter: wearing high heels, holding your liquor, schmoozing the partners, and good old-fashioned Hunger Games jockeying. 

    "Each partner at the party has two slots on their card," a veteran of one firm's 'cocktail evening' explained.

    "You have to approach each one and convince them why you deserve one of those slots. The best strategy is to team up with someone, then you can sell each other to the partners. Except I think they're onto that now. You'll have to think of something else."

    Just as well hours of manually inputting every mark I'd ever received for a tertiary subject had deadened my basic human instincts. Fear was now but a concept, but curiosity remained: did anyone really, truly care how I'd done in first year Post Modernist Art History?

    Apparently, yes.

    A classmate sidled up to me the morning after the clerkship application deadline. "Did you get an email from the firms this morning?" she asked. "Saying something like, 'thanks for choosing our firm, your application is now being considered'?" 

    "Yeah." I was exhausted, I was relieved, I was trying to blot out my memory of the last month by staring fixedly into my iPhone flashlight.

    "Aw, too bad, that means your average grade is below their 'clearly in' number. Did they ask you to do more online tests?"

    They had, doling out a very reasonable 48 hours in which to submit myself to a third party multiple choice exam that would determine whether my brain was a logical instrument or a garbage fire. 

    I turned up the power on the flashlight and wondered if mass cellular death was something I'd need to disclose on another form.

    Hey kid, I comforted myself. You'll always have snowshoeing.

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