2L-3L Law School: On Campus Interviews

Each year law schools put together a program called On-Campus-Interviewing (OCI). During OCI law firms and other legal employers visit law schools to recruit their newest batch of lawyers and summer associates. Traditionally, OCI occurs during the Fall. At most schools, about 75% of the participating employers are members of BigLaw who are looking to fill their offices with bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, summer associates. If you are going to be participating in this process, make sure to download the Law School Coach – Free Law School OCI Report.

Typically, OCI employers have high standards for law students seeking an interview. Most will consider resumes only from the top 10-15% (requirements relax a bit at the top schools), and expect the law student to be involved in either Law Review or Moot Court.

Each law school will have a different procedure for submitting resumes, usually called “bidding.” Most students will interview with anywhere between 10 and 30 law firms (assuming they have the ability to get that many interviews). If you are in the top 5%, you will probably be granted interviews by each firm you bid for. Be careful not to overextend yourself. Each interview is going to involve between 2 and 10 hours of your time.

The goal of OCI is to get invited to the law firm������������s office for a second interview. OCI is a weeding out process for these law firms. You need to stand out from the crowd (in a good way), so that you will be invited to the firm for the second interview. For more information on how to handle this second interview, download the Law School Coach – Free Law School OCI Report.

What is a Summer Associate Position?

Summer associate positions are generally the type of “job offers” you receive from OCI. Consider them to be auditions for a first year associate position. You will generally be paid the same amount of money as a first year associate at the firm and be given some assignments that you could expect during your first year. The positions usually last for half of the summer break, giving you time to intern at two different law firms. If you are a particularly attractive candidate, firms may make concessions to allow you to do an even shorter apprenticeship so that you can fit in three during the summer.

Typically, the summer associate program is considered by law firms to be an attorney recruiting tool. Expect to be taken to lunch frequently and otherwise wined and dined. Usually there is a set of social activities planned for the summer associates including dinner with partners. Some firms even take their summer associates on a trip. You should remember that summer associate life does not equal first year associate life.

How Should I Prepare for a Law School OCI?

You should prepare for an OCI like you would for any other job interview. You should be ready to discuss what you can offer the employer, and you should have questions about the employer. Download the Law School Coach – Free Law School OCI Report for the 10 questions you have to be absolutely ready to answer.

The only way that you will have meaningful questions to ask the interviewing law firm is by conducting thorough research. Plan on spending at least 2 hours researching the law firm. Often, you will be given the identity of the lawyers who are scheduled to interview you. You should research them also, but be ready for different lawyers to show up for the interview. The interviewers will expect that you have done your homework on the law firm before coming to the interview, don’t disappoint them.

We recommend preparing a cheat sheet on the firm that you are interviewing with. Sources of information for your cheat sheet are the law firm website (especially any portion devoted to recruiting), NALP surveys, recent news items that concern the firm (pull from Lexis or Westlaw), the Career Services Office, and find 3L law students who have been part of the summer associate program and talk to them.

Most Career Services Offices will offer a formal program for to law students, take advantage of it. Often it will include a mock interview, which may identify some problems that you can easily correct before the real deal.

How Should I Dress for a Law School OCI?

While some employers may offer you the opportunity to interview in business-casual attire, they generally want to see you dressed up as you would as a lawyer in court. The rule of thumb is to dress nice, but conservatively. The less attention given to your attire the better. Carry your documents in a leather portfolio.

Top 5 Law School OCI Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Showing the Interviewer that you are not prepared. Don’t ask questions that are easily answered on the firm’s website or NALP forms, mentioning practice areas that the firm doesn’t handle, showing up to the interview inappropriately dressed or late, etc…
  2. Making an off-color or inappropriate remark. The interview is not the time to tell racy jokes or talk about controversial issues.
  3. Asking about billable hours, lifestyle or firm culture. This is information that you are better off observing as a summer associate. If you want to work for BigFirm expect to work 60 or more hours a week, including weekends. You do not your interviewer to have any sort of indication that you are opposed to working these ridiculous hours.
  4. Attempting to show the interviewer how smart you are. If you have the interview, you have the credentials that are required to work at the law firm.
  5. Exaggerating on your resume or in an answer. Lawyers are adept at ferreting out BS. Don’t include a foreign language on your resume unless you could conduct the interview in that language, don’t include organizations that you are merely a member of to pad your resume, don’t attempt to make an accomplishment seem more impressive, etc…

For more information on the OCI process including the top 10 tips for getting the callback interview, and how to turn Law Review networking receptions into interview offers, download the Law School Coach – Free Law School OCI Report.