Secretaries and receptionists are very useful during the law job hunt. They can also serve as enormous obstacles. Luck and some skill will aid in distinguishing among the secretaries and receptionists that can forward or bury your cause.
In dealing with secretaries when scheduling interviews, pump for information concerning the lawyers) you will see, regarding their personalities, interviewing techniques, age, tenure at the firm, and areas of practice. Some of the information appears in Martindale-Hubble, but a personal perspective embellishes the picture. Some secretaries naturally will not freely discuss the lawyers with whom they work, and some secretaries are not familiar enough with the lawyers' work to provide educated advice.
Secretaries can provide information concerning other applicants - their numbers, their schools and their competitiveness in general. Certainly obtain definite information about the length of your interviewing day and the possibility of lunch.
Receptionists and secretaries can aid your approach of particular lawyers at the firm. It is often difficult to pin down lawyers who, because of heavy workloads or disinterest, fail to return your telephone calls. Receptionists and secretaries can often suggest convenient times to telephone, or, minimally, can explain soothingly reasons for the lawyer's neglect. You need advice concerning the wisdom of "badgering" certain lawyers about responses and reactions to interviews. The staff can name the lawyers who are receptive to that contact.
Secretaries and receptionists can further your interests and be founts of useful information. Especially at government agencies and legislative offices, the support staffers will recognize you from perhaps frequent visits and inquiries, and, if cajoled properly, can be strong allies in the hunt. Judicious handling of the allies is necessary, because often they are trained to deflect exactly this type of activity and because repetition begets annoyance. Tread carefully, and be aware of this special reservoir of aid.
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