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Illustration of a scruffy man wearing a collared shirt, shorts, and sandals offering a handshake to a man dressed in a suit and tie
Dressed for Success
No suit? No problem! Brian Seymour ’97 showed up in shorts for his on-campus interview with Michael Mitrione ’75, shareholder at Florida commercial law firm Gunster, but still managed to score a job offer. Here’s how it happened.
By Paula Derrow | Illustration by Tom Bachtell
Michael Mitrione (chair of Gunter’s corporate practice group in West Palm Beach, Florida): It was August of 1996 and the first day of doing on-campus interviews with students. I’d flown in from Florida and had a full schedule of 20-minute slots with students, back-to-back, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. without a break except for lunch.

Brian Seymour (co-chair of Gunster’s real property practice group): I actually didn’t get selected for one of those interview slots. Gunster was looking for students who had a connection with Florida, and I didn’t have that on my C.V. But I happened to be in the career planning office that day, killing some time. I was in the middle of moving from an apartment in Brooklyn to one in Manhattan, to be closer to Fordham. Everything I owned was packed up in boxes, including my suits. So I was wearing a pair of shorts, I hadn’t shaved in five days, I don’t even know if I had showered, but I was there and I happened to get into a conversation with Kathleen Brady, who was Dean of Career Services, about jobs and locations.

MM: I think he was also wearing flip-flops.

BS: I probably was. Anyway, Assistant Dean of Career Planning and Placement Kathleen Brady brought up the fact that my biological father lived in Port St. Lucie, near where Gunster had an office. She suggested that I take my C.V. up to Mike. I said, “But I’m in shorts and a polo shirt!”

MM: So here’s what happened. At some point in the morning, I’m letting one student out and opening the door for the next one on the list, and Brian was standing there. He said, “Hi, I’m Brian Seymour, I didn’t know you were going to be here today, but I’m interested in Florida and in your firm. My dad lives in Port St. Lucie, and I’d really like to talk to you today.” I had a full schedule, and I had to get on a 7 p.m. flight out of LaGuardia that night, which I told him, but he kept trying to persuade me. Finally, I said, “Okay, you can come back at 5:30 and you’ve got 5 minutes.”

BS: I showed up at 5:30, apologized for how I was dressed, and we talked for five minutes. I was very relaxed because I didn’t think I’d get a job there, so I didn’t oversell it. I don’t remember the details of the interview, but I do remember that when I walked out, I said, “When you picture the people you interviewed today, just put me in the blue suit with a white shirt and red tie that all the guys are wearing …. I can look professional.”

MM: When I got back to Florida, I was going over my list to see who we would invite down for a longer interview and I was saying, “Well, we should invite this one and definitely this one—and there’s this other guy. I only spent five minutes with him, and he wasn’t dressed like anyone else, but something tells me he’s got what it takes.”

I wouldn’t recommend showing up to your interview in shorts and unshaven, but we hit it off. If you’ve got what it takes, it almost doesn’t matter.

BS: I have great legs. That’s why I impressed you.

MM: It’s kind of legendary at our firm—Brian got hired in spite of his legs. But you have to know Brian. He has the gift of gab like no one else, he’s always very relaxed, and he’s a good speaker. I wouldn’t recommend showing up to your interview in shorts and unshaven, but we hit it off. If you’ve got what it takes, it almost doesn’t matter.

BS: You’ve got to fit the culture of the firm. Gunster is very entrepreneurial—it’s a place that allows young lawyers to grow. The more success you achieve, the more responsibility you get. We look for people who can keep up with the legal work, of course, but the other piece is how we collaborate. Fordham Law encourages collaboration and teamwork and shaped the kind of person and lawyer I am. That collaborative attitude is consistent with Gunster’s culture, and 24 years later, I run the real estate practice, Mike runs corporate, and together we help run the law firm.

MM: On the day Brian became a shareholder, he walked into my office and before he said a word, I said, “I can’t believe Chicken Legs is now my partner.”

BS: I do have great legs. But seriously, that’s the kind of relationship we have. Mike looks out for me, we know each other’s families, and we’ve been close friends ever since.

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