You just had a job interview at the law firm of your dreams, or at least a place where you could picture yourself working for a couple years. Perhaps the job interview was merely informational (some friend called in a favor so you can pick the person’s brains for 15 minutes with no real possibility of securing a position at the firm), but what is your next move? Is there anything else that can be done with this person and this firm or are you done? I suggest that your first meeting is only the first of many follow-up steps.
Writing an eye-catching “thank you for meeting with me” letter is helpful, but persistent follow-up is key. And yes, take the extra time to send a real letter like professionals used to do in the old days.
Do not stop after the job interview, which is just the first round! Instead, think of strong reasons (but not fluff) that will allow you to stay on your target’s radar screen. He or she should hear from you regularly with substantive news — update on grades (particularly those relevant to the practice area), paper you have published, moot court victories, recent successes at work, etc. This step is skipped by many people. I am not sure why. It takes extra effort and time and, of course, is no guarantee but why not separate yourself from the crowd.
What if there is nothing significant happening that is worth noting in follow-up correspondence? One way to plan ahead is to consider that the purpose of the first interview (or meeting if it is not structured as a formal interview) is to secure the second meeting. With this purpose in mind, find out as much as you can about the interviewer, including his or her background, hobbies, types of clients, and current projects. Ask thoughtful questions and listen for the answer and for potential follow-up items. Also, listen for potential touch points — items that you have in common that can link you in multiple ways. These touch points work well as follow-up items (e.g., sports teams, cooking tricks or great places to dine out, similar interest in particular wines or fine scotches, similar age children, good books, etc.). Once you have this information, you now have a list of potental follow-up items (which can be inserted in your next communication along with the standard thank you for taking the time…). Some of these items will make for better follow-up than others, depending on your interests and the interests of your contact. It is probably best to include both items that relate to work and those that don’t (but it is important to achieve a good balance and you probably do not want to use up all your ideas in the first follow-up correspondence). Here are some possibilities:
1) Sports. Great game this weekend for our Redskins! The new running back has some talent! I think you said you were planning on taking your two boys to this game. Did that happen and if so, did they enjoy?
Probably need more than just the great game line.
2) Restaurants. Thank you for the suggestion to try Hook. I took my wife and she enjoyed the mahi mahi entree which you told me that your sister enjoyed on your last visit.
Try to incorporate (honestly) multiple commonalities (same place and same dish).
3) Clients. I came across this article on the valuation of water rights and thought you may be interested in reading because it may be relevant to the estate that you represent that is dealing with this issue now.
Be as specific as you can because it shows you were listening during the job interview, and because the article may in fact be helpful.
This part of the follow-up should be as sincere as possible under the circumstances. I think this level of sincerity is possible to accomplish even though your communication is dual purpose in that you wanted to reach out and you also would like to keep the dialogue going.
This guest post was written by Adam Gropper, former AmLaw 100 law firm partner and founder of LegalJob.com.