A bit of a rant

I know it’s not like me to post twice in one day, but something about the call back interview is bugging me.

Two of the interviewers brought up my age.  I can be kind of dense, and I don’t always get the subtext of a conversation until later. I realize now, that in a subtle way, they were questioning whether or not I was to old too do the grunt work that goes along with a firm job. Ironically, it was the female attorney who was giving me the hardest time.

For those of you who are wondering, I am 38.

If I had picked up on what was going on, I think I would have more boldly proclaimed my ability to do HOURS of monotonous work.

But if I were being honest, I would have said something along the line of,

“Are you serious? You think document review is hard? You think being a lawyer is hard? I will tell you what is hard. 3 am in the morning with a colicky baby is hard. Administering morphine to your mother as she is dying of cancer is hard.

Do I look delicate to you? Do you think your stupid job is going to break me? Do you see the stretch marks across my stomach? That is where I carried a human being that I pushed out of myself.

I’ve detoxed from alcohol. I’ve done the 12 steps.

I’ve stared down scary Christians at the state house so my wife and I could get married.

In yoga, I can hold a downward facing dog for over a minute. I jog for 3 miles several times a week.

I’m strong enough for your stupid job. Why don’t you ask the 23 year olds how they are going to manage to review documents after 3 years of g-chatting with their friends and surfing the web through class.”


20 thoughts on “A bit of a rant

  1. Gross! You totally do not want to work for these assholes who are asking you such ridiculous questions. They are the ones who would give you a hard time about taking off at 7:00 at night so you could pick your baby up from daycare, telling you that you’re just not committed enough to your job. Jackasses.

  2. I’m curious as to what their questions were. I’m two years younger than you, and I really haven’t gotten any questions about my age.

    But i completely agree with you that while we can handle whatever comes at us, those who are whining about missing out on the trip to the bar with their buddies are going to have a harder adjustment period to real responsibilities.

  3. Hey Zuksa,

    It was subtle, but the female attorney asked me how I liked my classmates. I told her…just fine. But she kept pushing about how I felt about being around younger people. I admitted it was daunting at first, but I made friends etc. Then she asked me how I was going to “feel” about having to start at the bottom of a profession. I can’t remember the exact terminology she used, but something to the effect that the first year associates get the grunt work. I pointed out that there was grunt work in every profession.

    It wasn’t, “Don’t you think you are a little old for this.” It was just very subtle, and I didn’t think much of it at the time.

    The first interviewer asked me when I graduated from college. I told him, and he said that he had guessed that, and that he had argued on my behalf, “Its not that old,” he said. That means there had been some discussion of it.

    Again, it wasn’t anything I thought about until later. But now those statements are kind of making me think.

  4. all the points you mentioned are what make a solid foundation to who you are, without listing it for them, your character has spoken for itself. don’t read into it, it may very well be irrelevant to them. good luck.

  5. great post! law school isn’t necessarily what prepares us for the work we will later face. It amazes me when law students, law professors and those in the legal profession think that law is all we are.

  6. Well, that makes them assholes and seriously, isn’t it ILLEGAL to ask you how old you are and how you can handle it? They’re pretty much asking for an age discrimination law suit,…you may want to talk to your career services people at your law school about that, if you’re there because then they won’t send students there and maybe can get the ball rolling on any lawsuits…

  7. Delurking to say thank you for this post – as someone who’s just starting at 39, and who is, yeah, finding it an adjustment to be around so many early-twenty-somethings (not a bad thing, just an adjustment), it was interesting and helpful to read this. Good luck with the rest of the OCI process!

  8. You are so right. And I think if I ever heard a response like that when I was interviewing someone (assuming I wasn’t the jerk questioning her age) I would grab a contract and hand it to her immediately.

    Good luck with your job search.

  9. Thank so much for saying what we all feel about being older students! I’m 36 and it’s not easy knowing that my age is seen as a disadvantage even when I consider myself to be in my prime!

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  11. When someone asks you about how YOU will react in a particular situation, they are usually projecting their issues/concerns onto you. You may not have the problem they are projecting, but they certainly do. This drives me fucking nuts.

    I started a new profession in my mid 30s and joined the Peace Corps in my 50s. Initially, your physical appearance of looking older is a deterrent to those you are with. After they find out who you are, then you just become one of the crowd, and age is no longer an issue.

    Getting older teaches you how to become efficient and streamline all the stuff you HAVE to do. It teaches you to be proactive vs. reactive (and I don’t need to point out that most of our society is a reactive one). When you are surrounded by a bunch of reactive people, you need to stand your ground and not become part of ‘them’. Just because you are on the bottom rung doesn’t give them the right to shit on you. You need to show them what being older has to offer. Eventually, they will figure out they aren’t being efficient– or eventually not.

    Good luck!

  12. Good for you. I’m so sick and tired of that superiority job complex stuff as in they assume that somehow they’re “tougher” than you.

    And I agree wholeheartedly on the “kid coming out of law school” sentiment. I found that they have no idea what they’re doing when the start their first day as a summer associate (or first year associate) unless they have had previous legal experience. And yes – all that law school experience. All that drunken debauchery, weeks off at Christmas and summer, and sitting around DOING NOTHING are great preps for a legal career. *snort*

  13. Fantastic post and so, so true. I’m now an associate at a large firm and already doing interviews. There was a girl on Monday who took 10 years to complete undergrad – she was the first in her family to go to college, got overwhelmed her first semester, earned a 1.8 GPA, dropped out, worked full time, then went back to school, and worked her ass off bringing her GPA back up to a 3.8 by the time she graduated (while working full time). It was one of the most impressive academic stories I’d heard and I gave her rave reviews. A perfect resume doesn’t say nearly as much about a person as the one that shows the ups and downs and triumphs of a person whose journey has now led them to your office. This is rambly, but basically, you’re awesome and I wish you’d had the opportunity to say some of what you wrote above. A smart interviewer and firm wouldn’t have cared about your age without knowing what all is behind it.

    Good luck in your pursuit of the job you really want!

    (Oh and I’m adding you to my blogroll, I meant to a while ago, as I’ve been reading, but just realized you’re not there!)

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