What NOT to do
D, a practicing 3rd year attorney forwarded me an email she received yesterday:
Dear D~ A law student at [insert law school], I am
currently in the process of applying for summer associate positions
So far, so good. A little random because of the lack of connection between D and law school, but not too bad.
I am interested in [D's firm] and was wondering if you
could please give me a brief statement as to why you've chosen to work
WHAMMY!!!!! GAME OVER!!! Hey Student: did you just demand a statement from an attorney working at a firm where you'd like to work? Talk about entitlement, this is a whole new level. Did it occur to you that D is an overworked young associate and worried about making her billable hours? Your request for her to do additional work on your behalf is absurd and shows a serious lack of understanding and people skills. If you must solicit information from strangers, the best course is to bribe them, not demand something. How 'bout asking her if you can take her out to lunch or a drink to pick her brain at her convenience?
I chose to email you as I think I also would like to practice
Uhhh... yeah. This isn't very helpful. You probably need a better reason to contact a stranger. There are a billion associates in litigation.
I understand you are probably very busy, but a short
sentence or two describing your experience at [firm] would be much
Actually, that's the problem. You clearly DON'T understand that D is very busy or you wouldn't be asking for her to provide you with information and offering her no incentive to do so.
Thank you for your help.
The presumptive thank you is always funny when the thing requested isn't received, no?
In case this still seems like a good idea to you: let me assure you, IT'S NOT. The reply that D sent was a reasonably firm but polite no, but the forwarded email and accompanying rant that D sent me, was much more telling:
Ok, so this RANDOM chick just emails me out of the blue... asking me
for a "brief stmt" of how i came to be at [firm] and if i like it.
 i am NOT going to tell you anything real, so unless you want the
standard "oh yes, it's wonderful. it's all about the people and
everyone's great" response, dont email me. i dont know you. send an
email to an alum or someone you actually have a random connection
with. Or, here's an idea, find someone you KNOW would tell you the
 how do i know you are who you say you are and not some random
person trying to get dirt from me? amd then going to post in on a
blog, send it to the entire legal community or something else wierd?
 if you want to ask me something, ASK ME. dont ask me a totally
vague and unanswerable question.
The one thing this student accomplished was to make sure that D will remember her name and vote against her getting an interview. Don't be that student.
That is all.