SCU Alumni: Thoughts on OCIs and Beyond - Roozbeh Gorgin
May 08, 2012 at 3:30 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:
Roozbeh Gorgin, Associate, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
What’s your advice for engineers entering law school?
Engineers have an incredible advantage just by having an Engineering degree and background because many employers only come to recruite from scu law for IP Law candidates. You should leverage your degree and take the Patent Bar exam as early as possible because it makes you an even more attractive candidate to law firm employers.
Did you attend networking events, and if so, did you find them helpful?
I went to a few and found that it was a good way to, at the very least, become a familiar face among the attorneys in the field you want to enter. You see generally the same people at the events that you will practice with in the industry, so being able to mingle with them and network with them is essential. It is your chance to sell yourself as a brand. My tip for socializing at networking events is to go in and be genuinely interested in what they do. People can smell desperation from a mile away and can tell people that are there looking for a job from those that are genuinely interested in a career in the field. You should be up to date and know about the most recent cases the networking/conference even you are attending is addressing. Coming off as an intelligent and knowledgeable human being is the key to selling yourself and giving off a good impression. Stay updated with current news so you can have talking points with people.
Another way to network is through the people you know. As a 3rd year, I knew a friend clerking for a Federal Judge in Washington, DC who referred me for a judicial externship, and the Judge then referred me as a law clerk at the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). You will quickly find that nobody cares about what you know BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING AT THIS POINT!!! It’s typically about who you know and it’s those people that will open opportunities for you.
What was the OCI process like for you? What’s your advice on how to interview?
Students should build on their experiences and backgrounds and leverage that in their interviews. For example, anyone having a strong technical background should play that up because that gives you a point of differentiation from others. Employers want you for specific roles and for your specific experiences. Employers WILL focus on grades and there is no way around that but grades can be marginalized if you have some type of expertise the employers need. For example, I wasn’t in the top of my class but because I had experience working at the ITC and at the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, in addition to working experience as an engineer employers wanted to hire me regardless because I could come in and hit the ground running on ITC cases dealing with electrical engineering issues.
You should go into OCIs knowing what you want to do and have a general idea as to why the firm has picked you to interview. They often see something in your resume that attracts them to you. Play up those experiences. Giving off the impression that you are focused, determined and confident is the key to being successful at OCIs.
Stay pleasant and smiling, and maintain good body language. It’s okay to talk about yourself, but do NOT talk yourself out of a job. Ask good, intelligent questions that relate to the type of practices you are interested in joining.
What are some things a 1L can do this summer to look marketable to a large firm?
Work on perfecting your research skills because you will be cite checking and researching for a majority of your term as a new associate. I was a Westlaw representative and that helped me develop those skills. Being familiar with how to do quick and efficient legal research is a very key skill you will need when you’re starting out. Take it seriously!
You should also look to work at a community clinic, externship, pro bono or similar job build your skills. Moot court would also be a helpful skill to have on your resume and everyone should have written at least a few briefs before finishing law school. Your being able to write persuasively is going to be your bread and butter as a lawyer so doing as many briefs, memos, motions, etc. early and often is key. 1Ls may also want to take advantage of all the fellowships offered. Apply for EVERYTHING from the DOJ Honors programs to the Google Fellowships to in house legal department jobs.
Check the LCS career website daily as positions are posted there often. Also, take the time to write essays for the competitions you receive in your email – that’s how I got the Panetta Institute fellowship. Another great avenue is to take advantage of the SCU study abroad internship program. They will often place you in very good jobs where you can get experience and be marketable to firms during 2L OCIs.
During my 1L summer, I worked at JDS in-house and helped write an article about Patent Trolls in 2008. When I came back to Santa Clara looking for work, I saw that Professor Chien was interested in that area and approached her about whether she would want to hire me as a research assistant. After I sent her my article, she hired me – with pay! Not only did the position offer great experience, Professor Chien was also a great mentor and continues to be a lifelong friend and resource for me into my career.
In terms of grades, take them with a grain of salt. SCU has an incredibly difficult grading policy compared to other schools. Local employers typically understand this and will look at you as a whole, so having good legal writing experience or specialized skills will make a difference. Educate national employers on the grading policy.
How did you go about applying for jobs?
I researched online for Silicon Valley companies listing legal department contacts and emailed my cover letter and resume to all of them manually. There is no way around this and you have to basically take a brute force method unless you have some type of connection that will get you a job. I would recommend applying to as many as you can and don’t be picky at this point. You need any and all experience you can get.
EXPECT to have to do unpaid work for your first few positions. Even if companies reject you – keep applying! A rejection doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want you or that you don’t qualify, because companies usually hire only what they need at the moment. I know that I applied for hundreds of jobs and only got a handful of them. The key is making the jobs you get count and leveraging them to get better positions later on.
What are some tips you can give 2L's regarding their upcoming summer associate positions?
HAVE A CHIP ON YOUR SHOULDER GOING IN!!! The reality is that you have to go the extra mile to get the respect you deserve. You must do every assignment like your life depends on it and make sure you blow your competition out of the water. Always underpromise and over deliver on everything you do!
Do you have any advice for students who just completed their 1L year?
If you’re serious about being a lawyer, my advice is to get out of the classroom and make sure you get experience practicing the skills you will need in the near future. The key is to differentiate yourself from your competition. Any niche you can build for yourself is going to go a long way.
Even if you don’t receive offers from big firms, you should pursue any and every opportunity to build your experience – this includes pro bono work and volunteering.
How do you balance work and personal life as a 1st year associate?
There is no issue for me. My job is a typical 9-6 job, aside from the times I’m in trial. I have plenty of time to enjoy life and the money I make.
Do you have any last tips for students who are preparing to enter the legal field?
DON’T GET DISCOURAGED! I did not get accepted to every job I applied to. I applied everywhere, sometimes even twice, and sent multiple follow-up emails. If I had kept all my rejection letters, I would have enough to use them as wallpaper. Don’t stop applying!