Thursday, 28 June 2018

Let’s Get Cracking: Tips for 2L Summer Recruitment Prep

The dreaded first year of law school has come to an end — grades have been released and summer is in full swing. Although the hardest part of law school is now in the past, the hard work is far from over since prepping for the recruitment process is just around the corner.

"One of your main takeaways of 1L should have been that
procrastination can be detrimental to your success."


Honing your time management skills by planning in advance and leaving yourself some buffer time can go a long way. Approach the OCI process in a similar fashion. Start early — your nerves will thank you.

What is the 2L recruitment process?
  1. Submitting your applications;
  2. Receiving your OCI schedule;
  3. On-Campus Interviews (OCIs);
  4. Call Day for scheduling in-firm interviews;
  5. In-Firm Interviews; and
  6. Call Day for final offers.
I’ll expand on the first stage in this blog post, since breaking down the entire process may be overwhelming at this point. Don’t fret — you can access several online resources as well as get advice from your peers and the Career Development Office at your school, to help guide you through the entire process when the time comes… At this stage, just focus on perfecting your application to leave a good first impression on your chosen firms.

How to Successfully Prepare and Submit your Applications

The recruitment process begins with students drafting their applications and submitting them electronically to their chosen firms. A typical application will include a resume, cover letter, transcripts, and a list of anticipated upper year courses. It may sound straightforward, but prepare to spend countless hours adjusting font size and scrolling through Thesaurus.com looking for synonyms that make you sound like a unicorn.

pixabay - jeshootscomAlthough most firms will accept your completed application through an online server that will be set up specifically for this recruitment process, some firms (like McCague Borlack) will only accept applications through e-mail. The online server has an added bonus for anxiety-prone students — you’ll be able to see exactly when each firm opens and reviews your application, which will subsequently send you into a spiral of anguish and overthought. Thus, do yourself a favour and don’t look! I would compare this feature of the online server to that time we all sat and refreshed the acceptance forums on lawstudents.ca when we impatiently waited to get accepted into law school.

Make sure to do your research by looking at each individual firm website to learn what documents they require and how they would like to receive your completed application. Firms are looking for diligent students who can follow instructions and pay attention to detail, so triple check your application before hitting “Send” because a mistake this early on would give firms an easy reason to take you out of the running.

An easy way to organize your prep for applications would be to make an Excel spreadsheet that lists the following:
  1. firms you’re applying to;
  2. documents each firm requires;
  3. how the firms would like to receive your documents (i.e. through the server or e-mail);
  4. who to address your application to;
  5. the area of law the firm specializes in (i.e. corporate or litigation);
  6. three notable things about their student program (or the firm generally);
  7. a list of people you have met or want to meet at the firm; and
  8. anything else you think you should know about the firm for application purposes.
This spreadsheet will make your life a lot easier because you won’t have to keep scouring the internet when you’re finalizing your cover letter. All of the information you will need to know for the purpose of drafting the firm-specific cover letter will be neatly laid out in front of you. This spreadsheet will also come in handy during Step 3 and Step 5 of the recruitment process. Not only will you have a list of people you’ve reached out to at each firm (so you can slip their name in during the actual interview), you will also be able to remind yourself of what you wrote months ago in your cover letter (OCIs take place 1-2 months after applications are due).

In order to ensure your application is perfect and polished, send your completed cover letter and résumé to a friend and/or mentor who would be willing to read it over in order to catch any last minute spelling and grammar errors. This is an extremely important step — don’t be that guy (or girl) who mixes up “their”, “they’re”, or “there”.

Final Words of Wisdom

The best advice I could give students about the application portion of this process would be to start early. The application deadline is set for August 20th, 2018, by 5:00pm. McCague Borlack is accepting applications via email to StudentApplications@mccagueborlack.com. If you plan on networking prior to the process kicking off (which is always a good idea), I would recommend starting no later than the beginning of July. You are expected to tailor each application to the firm you’re applying to, so what better way to get a feel for the firm culture, student program, and summer student work tasks than to ask the current 2L summer students, associates, partners, and student recruiters.

Lastly, please note that not every firm sends out confirmation e-mails acknowledging receipt of your application, so, unfortunately, you will have to put your faith in technology and hang tight until the OCI schedule gets posted.  Good luck with the process!

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