Speed Dating, Lawyer Style


Photo by (49_5_tete_a_tete__detail) Sallie Warren

LAST WORD: Speed Dating, Lawyer Style

Lexpert, September 2006

by Marzena Czarnecka

“Now, let’s see, who do we have here. Angela? Yes, Angela. Come on in, Angela. Great to meet you.”


“Now, don’t be nervous, don’t be nervous. This is your time to shine. And don’t worry, we’re already prejudiced in your favour, because you’ve shown good judgement by applying to our law firm, didn’t she, Kev? Har har har. Now, Angela, what would you like to tell us about yourself?”

“Well, for one thing…”

“I bet you’ve got great grades. Everyone who applies to us has great grades. And speaks four languages. I often tell people that it’s lucky I articled when I did, cause there is no way I could ever compete with you bright young people now. Har har har. Not that I’m that old, of course. Well, not as young as young Kev here, of course. Now, here’s an up-and-coming superstar. Maybe like you, eh, Angela?”

“I hope…”

“Don’t be shy, don’t be shy. The biggest mistake students make at these things, you know, is they forget to toot their own horn. This time is supposed to be all about you: a chance for you to sell us on you. Boy, I tell you, that’s another thing that’s sure changed. This whole marketing thing. We market the firm, we market ourselves… and now we expect talent fresh out of law school to market itself from the get go. Did you see our recruitment brochure, by the way? What did you think of it? A bit of my baby, I have to confess. I mean, we hired designers, of course–you wouldn’t believe how much they charge, if you don’t get an articling position, maybe think about going to art college, har har har, Angela–and our marketing director wrote some stuff for it, but really–my concept. Kev here loved it. Didn’t you, Kev? How about you, Angela?”


“Of course, it’s all bunkum. I mean, all this promotional stuff. By the way, did you get a pen? We just did pens this year. Silver, veryclassy. Just like us. Well, Kev’s not silver yet, har har har. And that’s the thing, Angela, that’s what these meetings are all about–us getting a sense of you and you getting a sense of us, and all of us getting a sense of how we might fit together. And you can’t get a sense of what a person’s all about from a resume, not at all. I mean, you look at 200 or 2,000 c.v.s–I don’t want to date myself here, but over my career I’ve probably looked at 10,000 resumes!–and they all kind of look alike. Now, you, Angela, you’ve got great grades, but everyone’s got great grades these days. Awards, everyone’s got awards and medals. And they do clubs and volunteer work and they wrote this article and that, and they like white water rafting and sailed around the world when they were 12 and they paint this picture of themselves as this really exciting, go-getter person and you can’t wait to meet them, and then at the interview… a total dud. No personality at all. Or, oodles of personality–just not the right kind, if you know what I mean.”

“I think…”

“And a law firm, even the largest law firm, is really build on the personalities and characters of its lawyers. Not that we’re all the same, I mean look at me and at Kev here, different as different can be–that’s why we do these interviews in twos, by the way, Angela, because we want to have at least two different views on the candidates–yet we both buy into the same firm culture. Our firm culture is what really sets us apart from the competition you know, and I think the best way I can describe our firm culture is that it’s diverse enough that both Kev and I feel at home in it. Diversity. We’re very big on diversity these days. Apparently, the students like it. Is that something you want more information on?”


“Oh, you read it on the website, of course. Smart girl, Angela, don’t waste time rehashing stuff that’s on the website. Carpe diem and all that and make an impression. About all the Latin I remember, by the way–now, did you take Latin? Probably not, nobody takes Latin these days, too busy learning Mandarin–we’ve had at least four applicants fluent in Mandarin didn’t we Kev? Or was it Cantonese? Definitely not Latin, though, har har har. I was really sceptical, I’ve got to tell you, when we went to this system of recruiting, but I really do feel it works. I think we get a pretty accurate read on most candidates, don’t you agree, Kev? I know people have criticized these initial interviews as too short to be meaningful, but I’m a big believer in first impressions. And really, if we hadn’t met you, maybe we would never have given your resume a second glance. But now, we’ve had this conversation and we have a human context for making our decision…”

“I wanted…”

“But boy, time sure does fly, doesn’t it? Kev is tapping the table, and that’s our signal that time is up. Now, do you have any questions for us? Be quick, though.”

“You should…”

“What, Kev? No time for questions? Well, it was a treat to meet you Angela. Good luck to you. Remember, this is the first really important decision of your professional life–some people still say it’s the most important, maybe they’re right, who knows–so make the most of it. Sorry? I didn’t hear you–what was it you said?”

“My name’s Julie!”

Marzena Czarnecka speed interviews in Calgary.