OCIs are arguably one of the most critical and nerve-wracking events in law students’ JD careers. Read on to learn more about what the OCI is and everything you should know about it!
Some of the most crucial parts of a successful legal education happen outside of the lecture halls during the summers of your JD.
During these summers, students are expected to find valuable employment to gain relevant legal experience to boost their resumes and build lasting connections to help them secure jobs post-graduation.
One way that students secure excellent summer positions is through OCI in law school. This article will explore law school OCIs from what they are, how they work, and how you can best prepare for them.
Let’s get started!
Law school OCIs, or on-campus interviews, are held by law schools in the fall. This event gives students on-campus access to a variety of law firms and other legal employers. These employers visit law schools to interview potential applicants for summer positions.
OCI interviews facilitate students’ summer work experience between their second and third years of law school. It is a popular way for law firms to hire new law graduates, with successful applicants often receiving offers for full-time employment after graduation.
For students interested in participating in OCI in law school, the first step is to visit your school’s hiring website to view the list of employers that will be hosting interviews. The website will also disclose each employers’ hiring requirements and additional material you’ll need to bring for the interviews.
Once you’ve looked over the potential interviewers and requirements, you will have to upload your resume and additional documents to the job openings you’d like to apply for. If you meet the general criteria, you will receive approval for an OCI.
On OCI day, applicants will be screened using 15-30 minute interviews for employers to get a better sense of their skills and personality. Once these interviews are over, select candidates will get callbacks for a second interview with the firm.
If you are successful during the callback and impress your interviewer, you’ll likely get an offer for a summer articling position at their firm or organization.
OCIs are comparable to speed dating. You go into the interview with high hopes of making a match, but there's a risk that the love is one-sided: you want them, but they might not necessarily want you.
So, how do you convince them to want you back? This next section will break down the top qualities that all employers will look for regardless of which area of law they represent.
If you thought maintaining a high GPA in school was only necessary to get into law school, think again. You’ll need to maintain a high GPA in order to appeal to OCI law school interviewers. Most employers look for students in the top 15-20% of their class and have other distinguishing academic credentials.
Many of these employers are interviewing candidates across several law firms, so you’ll want to show you’re committed to their firm and mission. Show that you have a genuine passion for law and the type of work your firm does. Prove it through relevant anecdotes of your experience and extracurriculars!
These employers look for students that stand a cut above the rest and have memorable screening interviews. To ensure you are one of these students, you should craft deliberate and unique answers to questions like “why do you want to work here?” Show you are dedicated to the specific law firm you are applying to by doing your research!
You want to appear confident but not cocky. While you should highlight your achievements and convince the interviewers that you’d be an asset to their team, you want to approach your accomplishments with grace. As a law student, you still have a long way to go! Remember your current status and work within it.
You can display confidence by maintaining eye contact and through your body language. These small yet intentional actions will help your interviewer feel more connected to you and let them know you are comfortable and confident during the interview!
While feeling nervous during these interviews is completely normal, do your best to be as genuine as possible. Having some nerves can be a good thing as it shows your interviewer that you truly care about this position, but try not to let it overpower your interview.
OCIs are conducted because law firms know that polished resumes and stellar grades don’t necessarily make excellent attorneys. Interviewers will want to see your personality shine through during your interview so they get a better sense of who you are, what you value, and the kind of colleague you’d be.
A great way to let your personality shine through on your resume is to include a short section about some of your non-law-related interests. These interests are bound to make your resume stand out in a sea of resumes that will only detail their grades, scores, and experience.
Below, we’ll cover a few ways law students can prepare for OCIs to increase their chances of getting a callback.
Since your resume will be the first glimpse of your candidacy the interviewers will see, you should ensure it is up to date and reflects your academic, personal, and professional achievements. Don’t hesitate to reach out to career services at your school to ensure your resume is fit for OCIs.
You’ll likely be asked at least a few standard interview questions such as “tell us about yourself,” “why us,” and “what are your long-term career goals?”. For these questions, you should prepare responses to ensure you know which points you’d like to make on interview day.
Prepare, don’t memorize! It can be helpful to brainstorm and write down how you’ll want to answer these questions. You want your OCI to sound natural and conversational, not monotonous and rehearsed.
After your interview, you will likely be asked if you have any questions about the firm or position. You should ask well-thought-out questions to impress your interviewer and show your commitment to the company.
When asking questions, ensure you ask ones specific to the firms you are interviewing with. Here are some general questions you can tweak to make more specific to your firm:
By asking thoughtful questions, you can prove your eagerness to work for the company and your dedication to being a standout employee. It shows them you care and have done your fair share of research.
As we stated earlier, you want to show you genuinely want to work for the firms you are interviewing for and that your values align with theirs. To demonstrate this successfully, you’ll have to do your research.
Spend a considerable amount of time digging deep to find facts and information on the law firm that isn’t just found on their website’s home page. Reach out to lawyers or other students at the firm to learn more about the company and incorporate this information into your answers.
While getting an interview through OCI is an amazing accomplishment and can offer you a straight path to a high-paying, BigLaw career, it isn’t the only way to have a prosperous legal career or to even get into BigLaw.
90 percent of law graduates do not get hired through OCI, so if you don’t find employment through OCI, know that a majority of students are in the same boat.
Much like how law school is meant to be challenging, these OCIs are too!
You still have various other ways of finding employment. While these avenues might be a little more arduous and require more work, it will be worthwhile for your legal career in the long run.
As a law student, you’ll likely already have made at least a few strong connections that can either point you in the right direction or help you find employment. Explore these connections!
Alternatively, you may have to settle for employment at a smaller law firm. While it may not be your ideal choice, this firm can still give you valuable experience to build your resume and become a more competitive candidate for larger law firms!
If you’re participating in the OCI in your second year of law school and didn’t find employment, you can always apply again in your third year! After experiencing the OCI once, you may be better equipped to ace the interviews and will likely have more experience and skills to stand out as an applicant.
If you have any more questions about OCI in law school, read on to find your answers.
An OCI offer or callback happens when you successfully complete the initial screening interview. If you receive a callback, the interviewer will invite you for another interview.
A good GPA for the OCI puts you in the top 15-20% of your class, so it varies depending on your class.
Only about 10% of law students get employment through OCI.
Yes, you can, but you may have a harder time finding a position. Many employers prefer 2L students so they can do a trial run during the summer between their second and third year before they offer them a full-time position post-graduation. However, there are some organizations, like accounting and consulting firms, that prefer 3L students.
OCI interviews typically take place over four days, with each interview lasting between 15-30 minutes.
Unfortunately, OCI employers are very strict when it comes to hiring criteria. If they say you must have a 3.6 GPA, for instance, they will not invite students with 3.5 GPAs for an OCI. Ensure you meet all the criteria before applying to any OCI firm.
Now that we’ve gone over everything there is to know about OCIs, you should have a better understanding of how important these interviews can be and how they are only one of many paths students can take to find employment!
Regardless, if you choose to participate in OCI in law school, ensure you spend enough time preparing for your interviews by researching firms and mustering up as much confidence as you can to show the interviewers your best self!