Preparing for OCI (Part 1 of 3): Timeline & Breakdown

Editor’s Note: This post is the first in a series of three geared to help rising 2Ls prepare for the on-campus interview process and provide prospective students with an inside look at the recruiting process during law school. The topic of this post is a general overview and breakdown of the logistics of the OCI process, and tips for navigating it each step of the way.

As hard as it may be to believe, OCI is right around the corner. If you knew the phrase “on-campus interview” before the start of law school, you had a head start on most of the class. And if you found time during 1L to learn a bit about the process, even better.

Leading up to your first round of interviews, it’s perfectly normal to feel excited, impatient, and more than slightly nervous. One way we do not want you to feel is unprepared. As with any advice, the information that follows is not a one-size-fits-all, guaranteed recipe for success. Hopefully, however, you find the suggestions worthwhile and as a result feel more confident heading into the OCI process. Let’s start by laying out the timeline:

Friday, July 10th at noon – Off Campus bidding deadline.

Monday, July 13th at noon – On Campus bidding deadline

Week of July 20-24 (approx.) – Receive invitations for on campus interviews at BC

Saturday July 25th – Bay Area Diversity Job Fair (CA)

Monday, July 27th – Miami and SF Off-Campus Programs

Tuesday, July 28th – Washington, DC and Los Angeles Off-Campus Programs

Wednesday, July 29th – Chicago Off Campus Program

Thursday, July 30 and Friday, July 31st – Loyola Patent/IP Fair

Monday, August 4th – Boston Lawyers Group Job Fair (diversity)

Wednesday, August 5th – New York Off Campus

Thursday, August 6th – Lavender Law job fair in Chicago

Friday, August 7th – Philadelphia Off Campus Program

Week of August 10-14th – OCI week at BC Law

Week of August 18th – Week of September 14th (approx.) – Callback interviews

Week of August 18th – End of September (approx.) – Expect to hear about offers

Monday October 5th and Tuesday October 6th – MLSC Gov/PI Program at BC Law

Friday October 23rd and Saturday October 24th – Equal Justice Works Job Fair (DC)

I can only speak from my own experience last summer, but for what they are worth, here are some comments and suggestions as they relate to the dates above.

Bidding Deadlines.

  • When I was a rising 2L, each firm participating in OCI required at the very least a résumé and a law school transcript. Some also asked for cover letters and references.
  • With regards to your résumé, I highly recommend reaching out and scheduling an in-person meeting or mock interview with Career Services. The substantive and formatting suggestions I received during my thirty-minute meeting made me feel like I was in the last scene of an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode.
  • As for cover letters, reach out to current BC students working as summer associates at the relevant firms, and talk with them about what it is that defines their respective workplaces. Even if you have never spoken with them before, they will be more than happy to help, as it’s very likely that they did the same thing themselves last year.

OCI Preselects.

  • After you submit your bids, the wait to hear back may take longer than you expect. Not all firms submit their invitations on the same day, but try not to badger Career Services – they really will let you know as soon as they do, especially if you are selected off the “alternate” list.
  • Once you do know which firms you will be interviewing with, reach out to BC students who worked as summer associates at those firms for their insights (they likely will have just finished their jobs and will be more available than recent grads who will be studying for the bar).
  • In addition, use resources like NALP and Chambers to research facts and statistics that will paint a clearer picture for you about each firm with which you will interview.

First-Round Interviews.

  • Treat each interview the way you would an exam; prepare, prepare, prepare. You cannot control the outcome of an interview, but you can control whether you walk out feeling like you did everything you could beforehand to put yourself in the best position to succeed.
  • The interviews themselves will feel like they fly by, as most are only twenty minutes long. A much more thorough description of the interviews themselves will be forthcoming soon on this blog, but in order to minimize distractions, I would offer the following quick advice:
    • Know exactly what you will wear and how you will get to where you are going before the day of the interview(s).
    • If you are interviewing on BC’s campus, claim yourself a locker if you have not already to store anything you do not want to bring into the interview room.
    • Things I would recommend leaving outside include phones, wallets, keys, bags, drinks, and especially any items you have collected from prior interviews that day.
    • What I would recommend bringing into the interview is a padfolio for note-taking and a folder that includes your résumé, transcript, writing sample, cover letter (if previously requested) and list of references. If you have already submitted these documents during bidding it is highly likely that your interviewer is already familiar with them, but you always want to be prepared in the event that your interviewer requests a copy of any.
    • Whether you think an interview goes well or goes poorly, stop thinking about it as soon as you leave the room. You need to focus on the next one, Bill Belichick-style:

Callback Interviews.

  • You can expect to start hearing about whether a firm will invite you to a callback interview at their office the day after your first interviews. That said, sometimes firms will wait days or even weeks before they notify you one way or another about whether you will receive that invitation. In terms of receiving that notice, if your cell phone rings it is almost always a good sign; bad news will typically come through an email or physical letter.
  • With regards to the callback interviews themselves, they will resemble the twenty-to-thirty-minute OCIs, except they will take place in the firm’s office and you will meet with about five to seven people consecutively over the course of several hours. Firms will often do their best to pair you with interviewers practicing in areas of the law in which you express interest, so be prepared to convey that information beforehand.
  • Also make sure to know exactly how to get to the firm’s office, even if you plan to drive or take an Uber. If you plan to take public transportation, prepare yourself and your dry cleaning for the scorching heat of a T station in August.

Offers and Rejections.

  • Waiting is the hardest part. You may hear back within a few days of a callback; you may not hear back for an entire month. Like with callback notices, good news will likely come over the phone, while you will probably find emails less exhilarating. Just remember – no news is good news.
  • Familiarize yourself with the NALP guidelines, which will most likely be spelled out in any offer letters you may receive. Firms are bound to hold your offer open for a certain number of days – but you are also bound to notify them within certain time periods as well.
  • When you start to receive offers, feel free to schedule a post-offer visit at the firm’s office to meet more of the lawyers who work there and learn more about the firm’s culture. The format will be similar to your callback, but without the anxiety or pressure of convincing a group of people that you would make a worthy colleague.

General Tips for the Entirety of the Process.

  • Prepare yourself to succeed, but understand that you will encounter rejection. Do not speculate on why you do not receive an offer from any particular employer. Just as no one graduates with a 4.0, nobody receives an offer from every organization to which they apply.
  • No matter what you may hear about how someone else’s job hunt is going, do not dwell on it. Odds are, someone else will get a callback and/or land a job before you do. Congratulations to the first person in the class to secure summer employment for 2016, but for what it’s worth, 198 people got job offers from the NFL before Tom Brady, and he’s doing pretty well.
  • Like going through 1L year, figure out something that you love to do and combats your stress. Whether it’s exercising, playing music, watching Netflix, or whatever else, make the time at the end of the day to re-center yourself and get ready for what comes next.
  • And last but certainly not least, and regardless of how involved in this process you may get, always remember; the BC Law community is here to support you. I mentioned it earlier but it’s worth repeating that BC Law students are beyond willing to walk you through any questions you have, if only because we took advantage of the same generosity from the graduating classes above us.

In the meantime, mark your calendars for the following upcoming recruiting events and check your emails for the RSVP links:

  • Sullivan & Cromwell – Washington D.C. Reception. Sullivan & Cromwell invites rising 2L students who will be in Washington, D.C. this summer to join them for a reception on their Rooftop Terrace to meet some of their lawyers and to learn more about the firm. The event will be held on Monday, July 13, 2015 at 6:00 p.m., 1700 New York Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC.

  • Fried Frank’s Women’s Forum invites the law classes of 2017 to a networking cocktail reception. The event will be held on Monday, July 20, 2015 from 6:30-8:00 p.m., at 375 Park Avenue, 36th Floor, New York, NY.

  • Fried Frank’s LGBT Attorney Affinity Group invites the law classes of 2017 to a networking cocktail reception. The event will be held on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 from 6:30-8:00 p.m., at 375 Park Avenue, 36th Floor, New York, NY.

  • Goulston & Storrs would like to invite BC Law students to meet their attorneys and enjoy great food and drink on their beautiful deck to learn more about working at their firm. The reception will be held on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., 400 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA. Business casual dress.

  • Foley & Lardner (Boston Office) would like to invite BC Law students to join Foley & Lardner for an opportunity to get to know the partners and associates of their Boston office. Their attorneys and summer associates will be available to answer all of your questions about the office, the type of work they do, and the summer associate program, as well as give you some valuable tips for navigating OCI. The event will be held on Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 6:00 p.m., 111 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA.

To close, I would just like to once again offer myself and my fellow Impact blog colleagues as resources for any of you who is (or is not) getting ready to go through the OCI process, and to remind everyone that:

  1. I am a humongous Patriots fan, and
  2. Everyone who is on the field (read: a part of the BC Law community) is capable of incredible things:

Best of luck to all of you, and check back this week for the next two posts in our series about OCI.

I am about to enter my fifth semester at BC Law and my third post-OCI. I am currently working as a summer associate at a law firm in Boston. Feel free to contact me with questions about my experience, OCI, or law school in general. Comment here or send me an e-mail at rossire@bc.edu, and don’t forget to follow the Boston College Law Students Association on Twitter @BCLSA.

One thought on “Preparing for OCI (Part 1 of 3): Timeline & Breakdown

  1. Pingback: 1L Boot Camp Practice Area Panel | BC Law: Impact

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