Associate Life

Taylor Gooch

Everything That Led Up To, and Including, My First Week

June 15, 2012 11:29 AM | Permalink | Print

This post should be interesting. My goal is to discuss the interview process, moving out to Palo Alto, and my first week at the firm in less than 500 words.

The interview: First, take a deep breath. If you are at the call-back interview, then you have already made it past the initial screening. Your grades are likely up to par and you are succeeding in law school. The real test at the interview is not what you know about the law, but whether you will fit into the firm’s culture. Each firm has its own personality, and those that are interviewing you are trying to figure out whether you can both fit into the firm’s culture and add something to it. I guess what I am trying to say is to just be yourself. There are no trick questions. They aren’t trying to stump you. They are simply trying to figure out what you would be like to work with. Also, if you are interviewing at the Palo Alto office, while you will be in a suit, everyone interviewing you will be dressed more casually. It is okay. It isn’t because they aren’t taking the interview seriously, it is simply because in Palo Alto things are just a little bit more laid back.

Planning the move: This was a much more challenging task for me than it was for the majority of my co-workers. While I had been to Palo Alto and the Bay Area before, I had never lived here. I was currently living in Philadelphia with zero access to anyone to check out possible sublets, so I turned to the only resource I knew, craigslist. Eventually I found something. To say it is the ideal living situation would be a lie, but it is with a great group of roommates. So far my roommates and I have gone hiking every weekend, so I can’t complain too much. To be honest though, I am not sure what the other options are for those with few connections in the area you are moving to, just make sure to vet the place as much as you can. It was a little nerve racking just showing up and hoping the person on craigslist was real.

Another important decision for those who are not from the Bay Area is whether to have a car. Do you bring one, rent one, or not have one? In my opinion, you have to have a car if you are working in the Palo Alto office. While public transportation is available, I find it non-functional if you decide to actually live in Palo Alto. It is my rental car that gives me the freedom to do things outside of work. Also, the cost of a rental was significantly less than what I had expected. (I would suggest Hertz with the American Express discount.)

The first week: Trainings, lunch, trainings, lunch, and repeat. That sums up the first week. On a more serious note, the firm tries really hard to get you up to speed on the inner-workings of the firm at an incredible pace, so get ready to jump in and learn how to use all of the firm software. Also, and possibly more excitingly, you will get your first client matter on your second day. While at first this seems a bit daunting, as it will likely require tools that you were being trained to use the following day, I simply found it thrilling. The fact that the office is willing to trust you with real work on your second day speaks more about the firm than it does about anything else.

As a final thought, don’t ever expect to bring a sack lunch. You will be going out to eat with associates or partners every day. And if they don’t contact you, just walk down the hall and ask someone. They love it, it is on the firm, and it is a great way to build the community feel that WilmerHale is known for.