Law School Lingo: What is OCI?

Note: COVID-19 might affect the 2020 season of OCI and could result in remote hiring or be postponed. Check with your law school for updates.

On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) is the process in which law firms and legal employers visit law schools during the fall semester to interview potential candidates for summer and post-graduate employment. Students who perform well in summer positions may be extended an offer of permanent employment after they graduate law school.

How Does It Work?

Leading up to OCI days, employers will work with your law school’s career services office to post job announcements online to students. The job announcements will likely have eligibility requirements, including GPA and class rank minimums. Employers will be interviewing in the fall of your 2L year for summer positions, that’s why it’s vital to do well during your first year of law school. To learn more about the importance of 1L grades, click here.

Students will “bid” on the employers they want to apply to by uploading their application documents to the law school’s job database. The career services office will then compile packets for each eligible student and send them to employers. After the employers have decided which students they would like to interview, the career office will reach out to each student and schedule the interviews.

What Criteria Do Employers Look For?

Employers will be interviewing for 2L summer positions, so it’s crucial that students do well during their 1L year if they hope to take part in OCI. Employers will likely be looking to interview students ranked in the top 10-15% of the class. They might also have other requirements, such as participation in Moot Court or Law Review.

Equally as important as law school performance is being a personality match. Law firms want to make sure the candidate is a good fit for their office as well as doing well academically.

What Can I Expect On OCI Days?

On the days of OCI, the career office will have rooms prepared for each employer to conduct their interviews. OCI days will likely run from around 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM with a lunch break in the afternoon. Employers often end up running 10-20 minutes behind schedule, so make sure you leave enough time between each interview to accommodate this when scheduling your day.

Each interview is scheduled to last 20-30 minutes and will include questions and will include personality questions, situational questions, and performance-based questions. The hiring team will want to know what’s behind the resume to make sure you’d be a good fit for the team.

How Can I Make Sure I Nail OCI?

Make Sure Your Packet Is Ready:

It’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your career services counselor to go over your application packet before submitting your bids. This packet is the gateway to your interview, so be sure to ask them to check your resume, cover letter, and writing sample to make sure it’s up to par. It is also a good idea to practice interviewing with your counselor.

Know The Firm As Well As The Interviewers:

Not only is it important to research the individuals who are interviewing you, it’s also vital that you research the firm before your interview. It will negatively impact your chances of a callback if it’s obvious you don’t know anything about the firm. A common question you’ll likely be asked is, “Why are you applying to this firm?”

Make A Good First Impression:

During the interviews, students might only have 20 minutes to make a good impression. Make sure you wear a professional suit and have copies of your application packet with you, even if the career office provides them to the employer. The interviewers are looking to see if you would be a good addition to the team, so make sure you use the time to show your personality as well as your skills and experience.

A common mistake students make during interviews is not asking any questions to the employer. Be sure to prepare questions ahead of time that aren’t answered on the firm’s website. A list of potential questions you could ask employers can be found here.

Make Sure You Show Up:

This seems like an obvious one, but it happens. One of the worst things you can do during OCI is to not show up for an interview. Not only does this burn a bridge with the employer, but it takes away the opportunity for another student to interview. Research the employer extensively before you accept an interview to make sure you could really see yourself there.

What If I Get Multiple Offers?

A wonderful problem to have after the OCI process is to have multiple callbacks or offers. This is why it’s good practice to ask questions to the employer during your interviews. Outside of doing your research and seeing which firm peaks your interest the most and aligns with your future goals, ask yourself which one stood out the most and got you the most excited.

Why Is OCI So Important?

OCI is typically the process that top law firms use to recruit law students. Upon graduation, firms will extend an offer of permanent employment to students who held summer positions with them and performed well. With this in mind, it’s a clear path to securing your spot and your future at a top law firm.

Another reason OCI is so important is that it allows you to experience the interview and hiring process of law firms. Even if you don’t get a callback or get offered a position, interviews are always great learning opportunities to improve your interviewing skills.

Positions posted by large law firms outside of OCI receive such an enormous amount of applications that it’s likely the majority of resumes don’t actually end up being looked at. OCI gives you a much better chance of having a firm look at your application because the pool of applicants is smaller. With this in mind, it is extremely important to make sure your 1L grades are top-notch to make sure you meet the application requirements.

What If I Don’t Get Invited To Interview Or Get A Callback?

While OCI is important, it’s not the only way law students obtain summer positions. According to the ABA for Law Students, “About 90 percent of the nation’s law graduates do not get hired through OCI. OCI is just one avenue to legal employment and, depending on your academic credentials, career goals and practice interests, it may not be the appropriate avenue for you.”

Before applying for positions outside of OCI, make sure you consider what you could have done to improve on your OCI experience. If your grades weren’t high enough, consider applying for positions with smaller law firms. If your interview skills need work, make an appointment with your career services counselor and participate in some mock interviews.

Your career services office will have a database of law firms that didn’t participate in OCI. Start there and see if the requirements match your interests and achievements. If you can’t find anything through that database, check online for positions in your area.

Good luck!

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