Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Golden Handcuffs

My headhunter set up an interview for me with a major Boston law firm that was willing to pay top dollar for someone to work with one of their busiest litigation partners that they described as "difficult and demanding." I wasn't sure if I wanted to willingly get into another position like that. Been there, done that. Is the fat paycheck really worth my sanity? I don't even know why I agreed to go on the interview but I did.

I spent over two and a half hours interviewing with the HR Manager, the Office Manager and the Office Coordinator who were all very nice but I knew I wouldn't be able to make up my mind about the place until I had a chance to meet the lawyers on the second round of interviews.

During the interview the managers stressed the fact that the firm was open 24/7 and that the attorneys were there morning, noon and night cranking out the work. The managers said that overtime work would be required and I agreed that it was the nature of the business, deadlines and emergencies always came up and I didn't have any problem staying late some nights and weekends but wouldn't want to work EVERY night and EVERY weekend because I had a life to live outside of the office.

The next day I got a call from the headhunter telling me that the firm was not going to ask me back for the second round of interviews. Honestly, I was a little relieved but still wanted to know if they gave him any feedback. The headhunter said the reason they weren't going to ask me back was that I gave the impression that I wasn't willing to work the overtime that was required for the position. They told him I made a comment about "having a life outside the office." The nerve of me, huh? I responded that the comment was taken out of context because I said I would expect to work SOME nights and weekends but not EVERY night and weekend.

WTF? I think I dodged a bullet with this place. I was only at the interview stage and already I wasn't working hard enough for them.

I don't think I'm ready to put those Golden Handcuffs back on yet. I really need to figure out how to make a decent paycheck outside of a law firm and far away from those soul sucking bastards who want you to live and breathe their law practice. Any suggestions on a new career?


  1. Holy cow, what did they want you to say? Yes, I'll give 100% of my time for you and my only life will be my job? Life is way too short for that. We need to work to live, not live to work. Glad you didn't get the job.

  2. I think you did the right thing by at least going to the interview to check it out. The only way to find the right fit is to do the footwork. You were honest about how you felt regarding your needs. Yay you!

  3. Good for you for dodging that bulllet!!! You know what they say, out of the frying pan and into the fire? That's where you would have been. ugh.

    There's GOT to be something out there with your name written all over it. You'll find it!

  4. You DO NOT need a job like that no matter what the pay! Being "on-call" 24/7 is fine if you went to school to become a Dr. then you know that's going to be your life. And if they said the people you would work for would be demanding/difficult then MOVE on! I would be relieved too if they passed me up! My job now, the people are so nice and my bosses are awesome and it's a pleasure to come to work every day, if you have to work, that's the kind of place you want to do it at. Best of luck to you!

  5. Money isn't worth your sanity. Or your health. Being overworked and stressed isn't good for your health. It sounds like you did what's best for you.

  6. I think its good that you were honest about what you want. sure its never easy to hear that someone doesnt want you to work for them, but if thats the only reason why, then consider yourself lucky because you dont want a job where you are expected to make that job your life. my job is like that now - you are expected to give up everything that you enjoy to do what it takes to get the job done, and it sucks. after 4 years of doing it, I can tell you it hasnt paid off and it isnt worth it. So now at least you can take the time to find a job that is a better fit.

  7. Love this! You know what's important to you and you say it right up front! I actually looked for that kind of answer when I held interviews because it showed me the person had a work-life balance and also that they were honest.

    I'll ponder the alternative career thing and let you know if anything pops out.

  8. nobody needs that kinda of stress

  9. Boy, you dodged a real bullet there. Good for you for knowing exactly what you want.


  10. I guess the moral of the story is that those who lie end up getting the job.

    I guess that is how the world turns...

  11. Hi MB. Honesty is the best policy. Even in job interviews! Do they want someone who'll lie to them and say they'll work all day and all night 7 days a week for their firm? Because to say that you'd either have to be mad or lying.

    Maybe they only employ liars .... but then they are lawyers ;)

    Bearfriend xx

  12. Debbi: What they want to hear is "I will give up my life for this firm and will always be available for your every need no matter what else is going on in my personal life." What really ticked me off is that I said I would expect to work night and weekends on occasion but apparently that wasn't good enough of a commitment for them.

    LAF: This firm had a reputation for being a sweatshop so I should have known that it would just be a waste of time but I guess it's always good to keep my interviewing skills sharp.

    Jill: I spent almost 12 years in an inferno and I know I can't go back to that life.

    Jenn: You are so lucky to have such a great job. I'm jealous. There is a reason why I didn't go to law school and it's because I didn't want to give up my life for a career. I just want to do my job, earn a paycheck and have time to have a life.

    Tricia: I should start wearing a bullet-proof vest to these interviews. ;)

    Alexia: Exactly! I was so miserable at my last firm and knew this place was going to be the same if not worse. I can't let work stress take over my life again.

    Heather: I know the stress was killing me and making it almost impossible for me to get anywhere on my healthy living journey. You are proof that it is possible to do both but I wasn't as strong. I hope we can both find jobs with less stress and more satisfaction.

    Cammy: The majority of lawyers don't believe in work/life balance, it's all about billable hours and the bottom line. I can't wait to hear what alternative career ideas you come up with.

    TaDa: Many people don't realize how much stress affects them. I feel like the black cloud has stopped following me everywhere I go now that I'm out of that toxic environment. I'd be crazy to go back.

    Paula: I WANT to hit the lottery and never have to work again but until then I'll need to figure out a way to pay the bills.

    Shouts From the Abyss: Good luck to the liars.

    Bearfriend: I was mad for spending so many years being abused by my last firm so I vowed I will never do that to myself again. Lawyers like to be around their own kind.

  13. Sounds like Catbert was the head of HR

  14. I'm happy for you. I wish more companies understood the value of a person. Happy/respected employee = more productivity. I hope you find something worthwhile.


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