Reilly’s Declassified OCI Survival Guide

Remember that your job search is a mutual process– you want to be somewhere that values you as much as you value them.

Two of the biggest reasons I chose BC Law was the high Big Law placement and my positive interactions with the Career Services Office when I was a prospective student. Recruiting for any position out of law school can be very stressful, but our CSO is an experienced and talented group of people who do a great job supporting students in their preferred career paths. 

The third reason I chose BC Law, and it cannot be overstated, is the collegial culture. Applying to Big Law jobs and OCI is competitive but I never felt like I was competing with my friends. I had a great support system and loved sharing things I’d learned, mistakes I’d made, and celebrating my friends’ successes when they landed their 2L summer jobs. 

Before I go through any of the tips, please bookmark BC’s CSO Drive (BC Law students only, sorry). CSO does an amazing job including everything you could possibly need to know in that drive. 

I have written 10 tips to help you navigate the OCI process. If you have questions I did not answer, check out the CSO Drive, speak with CSO, or feel free to reach out to me! I love talking about all things OCI. I would like to give a huge thank you to CSO Associate Director Dorothy Commons who looked over my article to make sure I was sharing accurate information!

Tip#1: OCI is not the be-all and end-all

When you’re in the middle of preparing for OCI, applying to firm jobs, and interviewing, it can feel like it’s the only career path. However, there are incredible jobs outside of Big Law that are equally capable of launching a successful legal career. After OCI there are various timelines for in-house, small and midsized firms, and public interest positions. Hiring occurs throughout the year,  beginning when you return to school in August. There will be plenty of opportunities to network, make a plan with CSO, and learn more about the opportunities that best suit your interests. Working at a mid-sized or smaller firm, in-house, government agency, or at a non-profit can all provide valuable experience to help jumpstart a successful legal career.

There will always be law firms that at the beginning of your process you think are your top choice. Keep an open mind! You never know which firm culture, practice areas, or co-workers will actually be the best fit until you go through the recruiting process. 

Remember that job searching is a mutual process– you want to be somewhere that values you as much as you value them. 

Tip #2: Network as much as you can handle

Networking before, during, and after OCI can be an extremely helpful tool to add to your toolkit. Not only will it help you make it onto different firms’ radars, but it will also help you to begin forming your opinions about firms. Take advantage of in-person summer networking events and make sure to follow up with at least one or two people. Don’t overlook Summer Associates at those events– often times firms want their opinions on 1Ls they have met as well. 

One thing I found extremely helpful was networking with other law students. Last summer, my co-intern and I shared different firm invitations we received from our law schools to maximize our opportunities to meet with different firms. It was also fun to go with a friend!

Tip #3: Your friends are your best resource

This is my favorite tip. OCI is a draining process physically, mentally, and emotionally. Having a strong support system proved invaluable. Be sure to send your friends your resume and cover letters for extra eyes on them, ask each other questions when you have them, share your intel on different firms, and cheer each other on! One thing that may be helpful is having a separate OCI group chat so that people who need a break can mute it without missing out on the regular conversation. OCI can trigger imposter syndrome in anyone– it’s really helpful to surround yourself with people who can pick you up when it hits. 

Tip #4: CSO is REALLY busy during the summer– be strategic 

Everyone going through OCI freaks out a little bit. As a result, CSO is fielding an incredibly high volume of meetings, phone calls, and emails. Most questions can be answered in an e-mail and CSO will likely be able to answer those more quickly than scheduling a meeting. However, if something is urgent, make sure you put that in your subject line! I have found including deadlines in subject lines is helpful for CSO so that they can prioritize reasonably both for you and all of the other students who need help. 

Be strategic with your timing– if you want a mock interview, don’t wait until the week before OCI starts. For questions you can anticipate ahead of time, scheduling meetings early is a great option because you’ll have more meeting times to choose from, be more likely to connect with the CSO advisor you work with most often, and they are less likely to have to rush off as soon as the meeting time ends. 

Finally, almost everything you need to know can be found on BC CSO’s Google Drive. I looked like a genius in our group chat because I just found the answers to questions there. 

Tip #5: Figure out what you want out of your job

When you apply to different firms, make sure they’re jobs you want. Only apply to cities you want to work in and to firms with practice areas you think you would like. Not only is your time limited, but if you don’t follow this advice it will likely catch up with you later when firms realize you are not interested and won’t offer you the position.

Remember that this is a mutual process. Pay attention to how interviewers and how people working at the firms make you feel. It is very possible you will work with people who interview you– make sure you like them! 

Tip #6: Prepare for interviews, but don’t script it

The CSO drive has great resources for this, but it’s a common question. Make sure you look up all the attorneys who are interviewing you or could interview you. I had an interview where there were two attorneys listed, but only one of them was scheduled to interview me. It turned out that the second attorney who wasn’t on my schedule did the interview– I was thankful I had looked him up as well just to be safe! 

Use the information you learn about attorneys before the interview to help you write thoughtful questions. Interviews are stressful so I’ve found it helpful to have 3-4 stories I have on hand that can be tailored to answer a wide variety of interview questions. Keep the SOAR (situation, obstacles, action, result) method in mind, and make sure you practice your answers in this format. Practice is important, but don’t over-script your answers or they will sound that way. 

Take advantage of the CSO mock interviews! They are a great way to get feedback and to help with nerves. Look at the CSO drive for more information– I have barely scratched the surface!

Tip #7: Ask for what you need

If there is a firm you want to work at, make sure you network with attorneys there, speak with the recruiter, tell the attorneys that you would love the chance to work with them, and send them your resume. This part has always felt awkward to me, but it is the best way to bypass a screener to a callback. Feel free to ask CSO about tips for how to best phrase these interactions so you feel more comfortable!

Also, be transparent with your summer internship. They know that many people participate in OCI, they just need to know what dates you will be unavailable as soon as you know. Most people simply spoke with their supervisor and then blocked out their calendars for their interviews. Whether you take off a whole day, half a day, or just an hour is up to your personal preference and your internship requirements. 

Tip #8: Try your best to find balance between working and resting

Your 1L summer feels like two full-time jobs. One is your internship, the other one is applying to Summer Associate positions– writing cover letters, networking, and interviewing. Do your best to pace yourself. If you know you will apply to 30 firms at OCI, don’t try to knock it out in a single weekend. I have found that doing 2-3 cover letters a night helped minimize mistakes but kept timelines realistic. Everyone will have their own balance, but I think pacing is important to spare your nerves throughout this process. 

Give yourself permission to rest. As much as you can, give yourself one day off a week to forget about OCI and relax. Learning a new job at your internship takes energy, meeting so many new people takes energy, and the emotional rollercoaster of this process takes energy too. Resting is productive and lets you put your best foot forward. 

Tip #9: Trust your gut

This was my least favorite piece of advice that I heard over and over again, but it was right. When it came time to decide on my 2L Summer Associate position, I trusted my gut and have not looked back on my decision once. Your gut can help you decide which firm would be the best fit for you.

You will receive a lot of mixed advice throughout this process, such as how narrow your preferred practice areas should be, whether to apply directly and through OCI, and infinite other things. Trust your judgment. When you’re working you’ll run into similar scenarios and I think it is best to work somewhere that has similar judgment to you. 

Tip #10: Do what you’re comfortable with

This is a competitive process– go with the odds you’re comfortable with. Some people apply to fifty jobs and get one or two offers. Some people only apply to twelve or thirteen positions and still secured their offer. Some people went ten for ten. Whatever strategy you choose, decide what is both realistic for you and what you would be able to live with if it doesn’t work out how you envision.

Reilly Doak is a second-year student at BC Law. Contact her at

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