Chapter 1 - Interview with a Lawyer
I'm standing in front of my bathroom mirror, putting the finishing touches on my makeup. I step back and take a good look at myself. My blonde hair is in a low chignon knot and I am wearing my navy skirt with matching suit jacket, a white shell top and some sensible two inch navy pumps. It is one of the few nice interview outfits that I have to my name. My outfit screams conservative interview suit, right down to my faux pearl stud earrings and my minimalist makeup, but this is the look I'm aiming for. I'm a third year law student at LSU, and today is a very important day for me – on-campus interviews. Some of the biggest and best law firms in the area are coming to campus to interview third year law students for new lawyer positions, starting in the summer. I've got three interviews lined up today and the competition is tough. The legal field hasn't bounced back completely from the recession yet, and firms, even the big ones, are hiring fewer new lawyers. And even though it's only late January, most firms make their summer hiring decisions now. Their decisions are based on everything my fellow classmates and I have done our first and second years of law school. If I am lucky enough to get an offer, I just need to not screw up too badly my third year, or else the firm may withdraw its offer of employment. And I need a job, badly.
I'm from a little town in Louisiana called Bon Temps. My parents died in a flash flood when I was just seven years old. After that, my Gran raised me and my older brother Jason. My parents didn't leave us much when they died, and if it wasn't for the mineral rights that my Gran had on her land, I don't know how we would have made it. Gran did her best by us, but make no mistake about it, we are poor. There were times when I had to wear Jason's hand me downs, money was so tight. It seemed that no matter what we did, we always lived hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, whatever colloquialism you can think of to describe being poor, that was us. When I was about ten years old, I told myself that I was not going to grow up and live like this; I am not going to be poor my whole life. I saw what the low wage jobs in Bon Temps got you… a trailer, maybe a double wide if you were lucky, and an old beat up pick-up truck. And if a couple of kids come along? No sir, not for me. Even a job at the lumber mill, which has benefits, doesn't get you more than a small ranch house out in Hot Shot. No thank you. Don't get me wrong, I'm not greedy. I have simple tastes, but having to decide whether to eat or have heat is not a choice I care to make for myself, and believe me, Gran and I have had to make that choice before.
Growing up, I also knew I didn't want to be like many of the women in my small town … dependent on a man for my economic well-being. Why, look at Arlene Fowler. She just goes from man to man. When she has one, times are good, but when she loses him, she falls on hard times. No sir. I don't need a man to provide for me. Gran's done it, although it's been hard since she lives on a fixed income, but I know I can do it too. I don't intend on becoming a kept woman, or one of those women who need a man to be her world. That is why I avoided dating in school and instead focused on my studies. And it's paid off. I got good grades, and went on to college and now law school. Oh sure, it's been tough both in terms of money and just the fact that law school is hard, but between some scholarship money and my student loans, I'm doing it, and I'm doing pretty well too. In our last class rankings, I was in the top 5 in my class and I'm editor-in-chief of the law journal. Now, I just need to line up a job and not screw up my third year.
After one last appraisal, I nod my head to myself in approval and head out into the living room. Amelia, my roommate and fellow classmate, is sitting on the couch, Indian style, in some comfy flannel pajama bottoms and a pink tank top. She is drinking a cup of tea and reading a very thick law school text book, Corporations I think. "So, how do I look," I ask her. Looking up from her book, Amelia takes a moment to appraise me and then says with approval, "You look very professional Sookie. I just know you're going to get a job from these on-campus interviews." Of course, Amelia doesn't have to worry about on-campus interviews. She already has a job lined up at a prestigious blue blood Chicago law firm, courtesy of her wealthy father's connections.
"Okay, well then I'm off. Wish me luck," I say trying to sound upbeat, but my stomach is in knots.
"Sookie, any firm would be stupid not to hire you. Your academic credentials are great, and you look great. You are going to do fine. You don't need any luck. Just be yourself," Amelia said with a warm smile and I know that she really means it. I've always been able to read people pretty well. It's a gift.
When I get to school, the building is buzzing with activity. People in black, brown, dark gray and navy suits are milling around everywhere, holding file folders that undoubtedly contain resumes, references and writing samples, the weapons of all wanna be lawyers. The career services office has set up interview tables in several of the classrooms and people are nervously shuttling about from room to room, interviewing with the different firms that are on campus. Most of the law firms here today are big firms, but there are a few small boutique firms too. My first two interviews are at large New Orleans firms and my third is at a Shreveport law firm. My preference would be to get hired at the firm in Shreveport. It is large and prestigious, like the New Orleans' firms, but Shreveport is also closer to my Gran's house. I could stay with her until I find a place to live in Shreveport, and I won't have to pay any rent. Also, when I move to Shreveport, I could visit Gran more often than if I were to take a job at a firm in New Orleans.
The first two interviews go off without a hitch. The lawyers conducting the interviews seemed impressed with my credentials and I feel pretty good that I'll get an offer from at least one of them. As I'm walking down the hall to my third interview, I look down at my interview schedule to make sure I know which room my third interview is in, and then I suddenly walk into a wall of Armani. Literally, it is a massive black Armani wall. I bounce right off it and my papers go flying through the air. Suddenly, a large hand reaches out and catches my arm, just barely keeping me from unceremoniously falling on my rear. The large hand pulls me up to standing and I notice that it is attached to the Armani wall, which is attached to a very tall, large, blonde haired, blue eyed, man. He's breathtaking and for a moment I can't even find the words to say thank you. My Gran would be so disappointed in my lack of manners. The time it takes me to look up from the hand to the face feels like a year. My god he's tall. And angry.
"Watch where you're going! You could have hurt someone!" he barks. Suddenly, I feel cowed, then a little mad at his rudeness.
"I'm sorry!" I fire off angrily, and then remembering myself, I say more calmly, "It was an accident...and thank you for catching me." The last part comes out in a soft rush of air.
The angry Armani wall seems surprised by my fiery, then more polite, response, and pauses for a moment as if he's turning it over in his head. "Well, make sure it doesn't happen again," he says finally, in a slightly softer tone. After a moment, I look down at the angry Armani wall's hand, which is still holding onto my arm, and then I look back up again at the now less angry blue eyes staring down at me. After a moment, the Armani wall seems to realize he's still holding my arm and he releases it quickly. With a quick nod, he walks off in the other direction. I stand there in the hall and turn to watch him leave. I can't believe such a brief exchange could contain so many emotions … anger, surprise, indignation, and maybe something else. After a moment, I have to shake my head in a vain attempt to clear it. After picking up my papers, I decide I need a quick trip to the restroom to make sure I'm still presentable before my next interview. After straightening my suit, smoothing the skirt and tucking away stray hairs that came loose from my encounter, I'm presentable again.
I stride out of the restroom and to the interview room. As I approach the door, my nerves return. I swallow deeply and knock loudly three times on the door. A male voice calls out, "Come in," and taking a deep breath, which I exhale slowly, I enter the interview room. As I take in the room, I see a long table with three chairs around it that career services has set up for the interview. On the side of the table closest to me is one empty chair, my chair. On the other side of the table are two chairs which are occupied by two men in dark suits. A dark haired, dark eyed man sits to my right and, much to my horror; my angry Armani wall is sitting on the left. Wait, what? Okay, not "my" angry Armani wall, but the angry Armani wall. I'm certain that all of the color has completely drained from my face as I take in my interviewers. The angry Armani wall has the nerve to smirk at me. Seriously, who does that? That was enough to bring me back to myself. I close my mouth, which had been hanging open, catching flies as Gran would say, square my shoulders and walk forward with my hand extended, and introduce myself. "Good afternoon gentlemen. I'm Sookie Stackhouse."
"Good afternoon Ms. Stackhouse. My name is Bill Compton and this is my colleague Eric Northman." And so the interview begins.