Employer review starts June 17th, so make sure you sign your Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the end of June 17th to be able to access the OCI tab in Symplicity to start developing your list of potential employers. If you have questions about the MOU please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewing your potential employers is key to finding an employer with a great fit for you as well as showing your knowledge and interest to the interviewing organization. If you want to research beyond the employer’s website there are three great options:
- first, the Law Library provides subscriptions to www.vault.com where you can research law firms on a more in-depth level;
- second, you can log on to www.chambers-associate.com. This website details information from junior associates that tells what life at their firm is really like;
- Third, www.nalpdirectory.com is a great resource to find out more about a firm’s recruiting process.
Mikaela Ray, a current Santa Clara Law student, succeeded in her OCI experience last year and is now summering at Cooley LLP. Mikaela shares tips on preparing for OCI below.
On-campus interviews are an incredible opportunity for students to enter a highly developed summer program in a practice area of their choice. While grades and other resume-related items are important, preparation and careful planning can make a world of difference when you’re approaching OCI’s.
- Which firms to apply to?
When you’re deciding what firms to apply to, forget rolling dice or picking the firm with the coolest name. Strategically placing your applications can better your chances into (a) getting into a firm and (b) getting into a firm where you will enjoy your work. Coming from outside California, I had no clues as to the practice areas, culture, and reputation of most firms on the OCI list. (Student: “What firms you applying to – MoFo?” Me: “Excuse me?!”) Therefore, I did my research.
Look up the firm website and just get an idea of what the firm does. Are they global? Big law or focused practices? Pro bono friendly? Also, pay attention to any instructions given in the SCU Law Jobs Listing. Most recruiters will state what practice area they are hiring for, such as patent prosecution, general litigation, corporate work, etc. Don’t waste their time or yours as far as practice area goes. This summer associate position has the potential to turn into a career, and you don’t want to be stuck drafting patent claims when IP Litigation is coursing through your veins. Also, take the time to check out the firm’s summer program. Are you looking for a focused program that will take you deep into the finances of start-up companies? Or are you undecided between corporate work and litigation and looking for a program that will let you split time?
Don’t forget, “[T]he code is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” Firms will often list qualifications such as top 10% or electrical engineering background required. Applying when you’re significantly under-qualified is the quickest way to waste an application and never make it off the slush pile. That being said, if you’re in the top 13%, you can bet you’re a contender, especially if you’ve got the extracurriculars to back it up. So don’t look at those numbers as a hard and fast rule. As an example, I do not have an electrical engineering degree; however, I applied to firms requiring one and made sure to point out in my resume that in obtaining my Physics degree, I had taken multiple Electronics courses – the same ones taken by Electrical Engineering students at my University. Respect what the firms are looking for but don’t shortchange yourself. Preparing for the On-Campus Interview
- II. Preparing for the On-Campus Interview
Hurray! You’ve gotten an interview – now what? Know the firm, know the recruiter, and know yourself. In getting to know the firm, you have tons of resources – all of which the LCS advisors can provide for you. I relied mostly on the firm website and Google. Read up on the practice area(s) for which you are interviewing. Also, be well-versed on any information the firm’s website gives about its summer program. A quick turn-off for any recruiter is a student that hasn’t even taken the time to look at the summer program online. And you’ll be sure to give yourself away in your questions. When researching these things, develop a list of real questions you have for the recruiter. You’ll definitely need these for the interview.
You’ll know the name of your interviewer long before the interview. Look up their bio on the firm’s website – are they a partner or associate? Where did they go to school? What do they practice and do they have any hobbies? Finding any connection, such as the same law school or same hobby, is a definite plus. You can be sure to slip something into your interview that gives you a talking point and a way the interviewer can identify with you. Don’t be obnoxious about it. Simply say, “I saw that you attended Santa Clara Law – do you have any recommendations on useful classes I should take in the future?” This shows you did your homework, and provides common ground. SCU students that were previous summer associates at the firm are your best resource! Talk to them and find out if they ever worked with your interviewer. Name dropping is never a bad thing and again, gives common ground. Example: “I spoke with Jane Doe, who summered with your firm this past summer (ding! = recognition by the interviewer) and she had wonderful things to say about the summer program (shows you did your homework).”
Finally, send the thank-you email. It can only help. Good luck!
Mikaela Ray is open to questions by email at email@example.com.