SCU Alumni: Thoughts on OCIs and Beyond - Meg Hennessey
May 09, 2012 at 3:52 PM
LCS had the honor of interviewing exceptional SCU Law recent graduates who shared valuable advice on how to approach the OCI process, how to interview, and their tips on how to best strategize your law school career!
Other interviews are available here:
Meg Hennessey, Associate, Orrick
B.A. in Political Science from Santa Clara University
What was the OCI process like for you?
As a 1L, I knew I wanted to work in the nonprofit sector after graduation, so I didn’t participate in OCIs. Instead, I chose to work with nonprofits and applied to fellowships.
How did you research employers?
During my 1L year, I participated in PI/PS day. I researched employers both online and through my network of colleagues at nonprofits that I worked with before law school. I quickly realized the value of reaching out to anyone I worked with in the legal world, and that I needed to put my pride aside and work any connections I had.
What’s the number one thing you’d recommend a student do before or during an interview?
Talk to people you know at the firm and ask what they know about the interviewers – from their work to their personality. Also try to prepare on your own and familiarize yourself with their interests. I would recommend students to act like a person the interviewer can imagine working with – don’t be nervous and overly formal, try to be conversational and confident.
What are some things a 1L can do this summer to look marketable to a large firm?
During the summers, get direct client experience – get comfortable working with people in a legal, professional capacity. I would also recommend getting concrete legal writing experience, both formal (motion to dismiss) and informal (communicating with clients or co-counsel via email, interoffice memoranda). You can get great hands-on experience like this by working for smaller firms or nonprofits.
What advice do you have for 2Ls regarding their upcoming summer associate positions?
I did not take a summer associate position. So, for those students who do not choose to get a summer associate position, I would recommend reaching out and taking advantage of different grant opportunities. Working with a nonprofit during my first summer gave me direct experience with clients, so I had a more unique background than some of my colleagues at Orrick.
Why did you decide to take a big firm job?
Though I was interested in nonprofit work after graduation, I did not limit my options when it came to my job search. Most job postings in the nonprofit sector wanted lawyers with more experience since they do not have the resources to train new lawyers. I cast a net wide and a friend who worked at Orrick alerted me to a large case that the firm needed new associates to work on. I was one of only two new associates who had not previously worked with the firm in a summer position. I got lucky. But again, it reminded me of how important it is to not shy away from making and using any and all connections in the legal world. Tell everyone you know you are looking for a job.
How do you balance work and personal life as a first year associate?
Balancing work and personal life can be difficult. I felt like a fish out of water. Most of my colleagues went to higher ranked schools or had been summer associates. To compensate, I agree to anything I am asked to do and will work long and hard hours to prove my worth. But an overworked attorney doesn’t produce as good quality work product and thus, a balance must be maintained. I’ve found that managing associates generally understand the need for rest and are helpful as I have navigate this balance.