SCU Alumni: Thoughts on OCIs and Beyond - Roxana Niktab
May 08, 2012 at 3:40 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:
Roxana Niktab, Associate, Simpson & Thacher
earned her Masters degree before attending SCU as a part-time student
Do you have any advice you think would be helpful for engineers entering law school?
Law school curriculum seemed very logical, like an algorithm, so I feel like it would be fairly easy for engineers to transfer the formulaic skills from an engineering background and apply them while working on their writing skills.
What was the OCI process like for you? What’s your advice for how to best approach OCIs?
I wasn’t the most prepared for OCIs. I met with the Law Career Services advisors who helped revise my technical and business-oriented resume to reflect transferrable skills for a legal career. I found this to be very helpful. I also recommend asking around about firms to familiarize yourself with the kind of work they do. You can also try to find a mentor, i.e., an associate, or a partner, who can not only give you a better idea about their firm, in a more informal setting, but can also provide you with more insight into other firms on your OCI interview list. In making my decision, I spoke with my mentors about my interviews and offers because it was very difficult to know one firm from the other without asking around or knowing someone who worked there. I also talked to the legal counsel at the company I was working for about their experiences with various firms.
The interviews were an exhaustive process, and I took off 7 days to work them into my schedule. But don’t be afraid to ask to switch things around because recruiters at firms are generally flexible and understand scheduling conflicts if they know you have another job.
What are some things a 1L can do this summer to look marketable to a large firm?
Grades are the first things that employers look at, so maintaining good grades will definitely help. I also suggest talking to alumni or upperclassmen who have summered the year before at firms that you are interested in working for. I also did Moot Court and Trial Team.
How would you recommend preparing for interviews?
I practiced with a mock interview, which was really helpful. Try to think of what employers may ask. One interviewer caught me off guard by asking “is there anything not on your resume that you want me to know?” Other questions you should probably be prepared for are:
- What classes did you like?
- Which classes did you take or are planning to take? Why?
- Why did you get this grade in this class? What happened?
Also try to learn about the firm and about the person who will be interviewing you. However, be aware that, due to last minute scheduling conflicts, recruiters may need to change people last minute, so be prepared to meet an interviewer that you may not expect.
What are some questions a student could ask in an interview?
You can ask a firm about their clients, the types of cases they handle and the types they do not, how they staff their cases, what assignments were given to previous summer associates, and what assignments they are likely to give to you.
What are some tips for students pursuing summer associate positions in IP law?
I would highly recommend the IP Survey course but suggest taking it for a full semester rather than taking it over the summer because it is a very heavy course. I would also recommend the Patent Litigation class.
You had a rare early start as a summer associate – how did you manage to do this?
In Summer 2010 (the summer before my 4L year), I took a leave of absence from my job to work as an associate at the firm where I am currently at. I was aware that firms do not usually start their associates early, but my advice is to ask about your options. I was honest about my predicament of having a different graduation date from other associates and my firm graciously agreed to start me in April 2011 right after I took the bar in February.?If you’re ever curious about your options – just ask. I have been interested in both litigation and transactional IP, but most associates do one or the other. When I asked if I could do both – the firm agreed.
How do you balance work and personal life as a 1st year associate?
I have been working for 13 months now, and I can say it’s a little easier from working full-time, taking classes at night and studying on the weekends. I enjoy that I am acquiring different skill sets by splitting my time between IP litigation and IP transactional.