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Ann Israel is the legal profession’s Dear Abby. A New York legal recruiter since 1979, Ann is a past president of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants. Advice for the Lawlorn is updated every Tuesday. Q: When is it appropriate during the interview process to ask the questions I really want to know about a firm? For example: What are the hours like, what is the face time like, what is the bonus structure, what is the maternity leave policy and so on? Are these questions best left until after the offer? To whom should I address these questions? Practical Dear Practical: These are very important questions, and clearly, the answers will make a difference as to whether or not you want to accept a job offer at a specific firm or corporation. However, when you ask these questions might very well make a difference as to whether or not you receive a job offer! If you are working with a recruiter, you certainly can ask these questions in the very beginning of the interviewing process when you meet with the recruiter to discuss specific job opportunities. If he or she does not know the answers, s/he will be more than happy to find out for you sooner rather than later. In fact, if your headhunter doesn’t know the answer to a few of the questions right away (What are the hours like? What is the bonus structure?), you might want to hold off giving permission to present your background to this firm or corporation until s/he does have the answers. However, other questions that relate to issues such as vacation, maternity leave, face time, etc., are matters that are not substantive to your practice area and should be left to either your headhunter to ask for you or else for you to ask the recruiting coordinator at the firm (or human resources at the corporation) after you have received an offer (but before you have accepted an offer). What’s important for you to remember here is that your goal is to get the potential employer to be interested enough in you and your legal skills first and foremost � interested enough that you receive an offer of employment. Then, and only then, are you in a position to ask all of the questions you want about benefits and hours and perks without looking as if that is all you are interested in with this particular employer. Good luck! Sincerely, Ann Israel President, Ann Israel & Associates

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