First of all, THANK YOU for all the suggestions on questions. I felt so professional and relaxed and prepared, and the interviewers really seemed to appreciate my thoughtful questions. Dialogue was good, and the open ended questions eventually let me hear some truth I might not otherwise have heard.
I met with two interviewers, separately, each for almost an hour. The first was a corporate associate who had a background in biglaw (but more on the legal recruiting side). The second was the litigation partner for whom I would work primarily.
Pros. Sophisticated work. Clients on the level that one wouldn't necessarily expect in a firm that size. Legal geek in me kind of sqee-ed as we talked -- learning curve would be steep and awesome. Both interviewers were women and both said the primary reason they love working there is that they love interacting with their supersmart co-workers. They described a really great environment, one I think I would fit into nicely. Low turn-over. Like none, really. Last hire was over 5 years ago, still there. Even the secretaries and paralegals are lifers. I was very interested in the representative matters that were discussed, and held my own on the substantive stuff.
Cons. The new hire will be the only associate in a busy litigation department. They're hiring because their only litigation associate is now a junior partner in the department. The corporate associate observed that they probably really need to hire two or three people for the work that they do, which would allow people to specialize a bit, but they will only hire one. (Ummm... warning sign.) Then I meet the partner. She throws words like "indispensable" around, describing the associate. Nights and weekends seem
to be the norm, not the exception. Without knowing (but probably guessing) that I had kid(s), she said that I really needed to think about whether I could commit to that. She mentioned that her husband of 30+ years complains about her hours regularly.
(Oh and she called one of my references in advance simply because she knew him well -- it didn't portend any more than that. She did say he was very positive, however. I was one of the first interviewees -- they have a number of candidates they're considering. I might not hear for a while.)
$pecifics. Salary was not discussed. Billable requirement was mentioned in passing, no number attached, and the associate noted "they're human" about it (i.e. no one lost their job over it during the downturn.) Bonuses were also mentioned, but not detailed.
As for the "big" questions. I was not evasive at all about my background, kids, etc. I just didn't come up. Really. My marriage came up as an explanation as to why I lived in Texas for four years, but there was no follow up that opened the door to my mentioning the kids. Every other firm interview I ever had, someone managed to ask the "big" questions without really asking. Not so, there.
I left the interview thinking this would be so awesome in so many ways for me ... and also thinking there was probably no way I could accept if I were offered the position.
I'm glad I did it anyway. I have this fantasy they offer me the position, and I counteroffer, requesting a part time position with no benefits (and of course, that they give the full time position to someone else). They sure as hell seem like they have the work to support such a position. If I get the opportunity (and the balls) to do it, you'll be the first to know.