Hugs: A Handshake from the Heart


“Everyday, you should reach out and touch someone.”

~Maya Angelou

Who among us can forget the stress of on-campus interviews (OCIs)? I went through what felt like a million of them, but it never got less stressful. At one point, after completely blanking when it was my turn to ask questions, I ran to my RWA teacher’s office and sobbed because MY ENTIRE LEGAL CAREER DEPENDED ON IT. I ended up getting an offer, so clearly my perspective was slightly skewed. Another interview resulted in a same-day call back, after I had already changed into jeans. This too left me hyperventilating (you may be noticing a theme here), but the interviewer didn’t seem to be horrified (BV-if you are reading this, that was you!).

But, there is one story that takes the cake. A good friend, let’s call her Debbie*, went into an OCI. I should mention that Debbie is not from the South and has noted that people here tend to be pretty friendly. The firm was a very well-respected firm that has a rather serious reputation. After doing a great interview (nailed it!), Debbie stood up to leave.

As she was walking out the door, one interviewer stretched out his arm, in what looked to Debbie like a hug gesture. Thinking that this may be a “southern thing,” Debbie gave him a warm and friendly hug. To her horror, at was at that moment she realized that he was extending his hand for a handshake, no hug intended.

Mortified, Debbie told me this story that afternoon. Although sympathetic, I will admit that I laughed hysterically for about three days. We both knew that mistake cost her the job, but we hoped that her name wouldn’t become legendary in the OCI circles.

The law firm called her a little later to offer her the job. It turns out that even the most serious of lawyers enjoys a good hug.

If you have an OCI horror story that you would like to share, feel free to email me: jennyknepper at or send a facebook message.

*If you know who Debbie is, don’t spill the beans!


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