A Job Ad Requesting a Family Picture is Real and Just Wrong

My lawyer husband sent this to me this afternoon and my jaw hit the concrete.  Above The Law ran an interview with Nicholas Rowley, a personal injury and medical malpractice attorney with a firm that calls itself “Trial Lawyers for Justice.”  Nick has some very unusual hiring methods.  Here’s an excerpt of  an ad he apparently wrote, according to Above the Law, where he’s seeking to hire an attorney.

DECORAH, IA plaintiff firm is seeking a brilliant hardworking lawyer who would rather do research and writing than be in court. …Much thought is going to be put into who will fill this very important position with the firm. Persons who are interested are requested to email a personal story of who the applicant is, what his or her political beliefs are, and what they believe about justice and personal injury litigation along with a recent personal and/or family photograph.

Political beliefs? A “personal story?”  A “family photograph?”  What the fuck?

Above The Law asked Nick to explain his reasoning for these unusual requests.  Here’s some of what he had to say (for the entire explanation, click here):

“A family photo can tell me many things. First, I can see how they seem to connect, I can see how happy they really are or whether it is a ‘fake smile portrait’ photo. I can ask as I talk to the person on the phone who is in the photos. You see, I don’t care where a person went to law school or what they got on the LSAT or what standing they had in their class, I am more concerned about whether this is a person who will fit within a culture of a firm that is family to each other, who get together regularly, who have holiday dinners together, who have dedicated themselves and their family (because what we do is a 24hr/7 day per wk calling that we live and breathe) to fighting injustice.”

So Nick, here’s my question for you?  What if my father was an abusive drunk and I don’t have a mother and I’m single and don’t have a happy-family picture to show you BUT I worked my ass off and pulled myself up by my boot straps to make something out of myself?  Would I qualify for an interview with you or would my background scare the shit out of you?

Just curious.

Or, what if I’m gay, and my family disowned me and it’s just me and my mate in the picture?  Would that work for you or would I not fit in with your ideal for “your firm family?”

Just curious.

Nick goes on to say ” When I interview a person I get to see their face, why not in advance to an interview. … I get to “feel” who the person is rather than paper and ink. Looking through a hundred resumes will tell me hardly anything about the human being I am considering, resumes are often bullshit. Also, how a person offers themselves by photograph tells me a little about who that person is pcyhologically (sic). If I ask for photos and I get a dark suit with a power look accompanied by a resume that shows an Ivy league education and member of a fraternity and the yacht club chances are that I would put it all together and choose not to call for an interview. That is not because I am discriminatory but because as a human being I have people who I match with, who the people in my firm match with.”

Nick.  Nick.  Nick.  Hello?  How can you say that this is NOT discriminatory? You presume that because a person “looks” a certain way that he or she will or will not fit into your firm culture.   Just based on a picture?????  On a whim, I looked through some of my photos today.  I have a professional head shot, that’s not too stodgy that I use for business.  It’s a business picture, it does not by any means reflect anything about my personality.  Then I’ve got all kinds of other pictures that I like of myself.  The one on my Facebook profile right now features me with a fishing hat.  In fact, the picture I have in the “About” page of this blog also shows me wearing a floppy hat.  What does it mean if I sent you a picture of myself wearing one of my big hats? Does that connote that I’m down to earth and into nature?  No, it means I think I look alright in a frickin’ hat.  Period.

By the way, Nick.  I just went to your site.  Isn’t it ironic that you and your partners have neglected to put your own mug shots up? What’s wrong? Afraid your clients might judge you by your looks?

Carpe diem…


  • Happy Hubby
    August 21, 2009

    What’s to add? You just clobbered this guy, and rightfully so. He’s a discrimination suit just waiting to happen.

    But he did make one salient point with his ad looking for a writer; With his own wretched wordsmithing he ably demonstrated that he needs one.

  • ajlouny
    August 21, 2009

    It was a little bazzar that he would want to go for a touchy feeling type of ad that infringed on a persons personal life and boardered on discrimination.

  • anonymous
    August 21, 2009

    Wow he is the perfect model for discrimination. I guess he was out sick during Law School when they discussed EEO. Is he looking for the all american family (blonde hair, blue eyes, 2.5 children, golden retriever, and a Volvo wagon in the driveway)? What If I sent him a pic claiming to be me thats a Abercrombie and Fitch model or a J. Crew Model, and show up for the interview and shocker, I am a real person.

    He needs to get a life.

  • Anonymous
    June 8, 2011

    Nick is one of the most gracious and hard working attorneys in the nation. He truly cares for his clients and works not only for his clients, but for everyone when the work he does results in permanent safety upgrades in otherwise dangerous practices. Nick works tirelessly for people who would otherwise not have their own voice. If you ever found yourself in a position to need an attorney, you would want him on your side. I dont have a dog in this hunt and I dont even know him very well, but I know his work and the people he works with. Whatever you think of his hiring practices, they are his hiring practices, and he should be able to cast a net out there for the best fit for him, his clients, and his firm. This just sounds like the writing of someone whose husband may have applied for the job but got turned down.

      • Anonymous
        June 11, 2011

        ahh, I misunderstood. I had never read your blog, just this entry, and based on your cartoon pic above figured that was you chasing your lawyer hubby with a machete. I agree your blog is an attempt (vulgar and poor at that) at an insult towards Rowley. Based on the one entry I did read, I expected nothing less of you than to do the whole “I know you are but what am I” gig rather than take an objective non-biased view on this and take, with dignity and grace, the “rest of the story” on this. Bottom line is, that firm can hire whomever he wants, on whatever terms it wants, and if that law firm wants a family picture along with the resume of potential candidates, that’s the firm’s perogative. Just like its the potential job candidate’s perogative on whether to submit a resume to this firm, or a photo for that matter. I know this firm’s work, and reputation. They have a varied and diverse staff of lawyers and support staff, dedicated to what they do, as is evident in the results they achieve. At the end of the day, isn’t that what matters? Oh, nevermind, I can just see your answer, “this sounds like the writing of someone whose law firm was insulted by a blogger…blah blah.” No, Rowley is not my husband, and no, I don’t work there either. your profanity-ridden blog on this law firm was just wrong. that’s all.

  • Shannon
    November 6, 2011

    Hiring is discrimination all around. You PRESUME someone will be a good fit based upon the discrimination of a resume and where they went and what they did. Based upon an in person face-to-face interview and what the gut tells them is also another PRESUMPTION that is also discrimination. I come dressed appropriately, yet I do not mesh with your personality even though I have proven job performances, you are NOT going to hire me based upon your discrimination and your gut. You mean to tell me that seeing the person in a face-to-face contact is any different than a family photo? In reality the appropriate answer would be no; in addition, resumes and power shots can all be used a discrimination if people spend thousands of dollars to get an edge vs. those whom do not. Then you can break it down upon what school, what GPA, what volunteering activities, etc. Hiring is a form of discrimination. If he doesn’t “feel” the connection through the picture then so be it. I applaud him on his accomplishments and wanting people who put the family work atmosphere first rather than corporate bragging rights of how many graudated from Harvard. As a lawyer he deserves KUDOS and in regards to hiring, as stated above…..all places discriminate and there are just some are more noted than others. That is the reality.

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