Tuesday 26 January 2021

Tips for Online OCIs and In Firms

The OCI process is daunting in normal years. You’re in the middle of your time in law school and for many, it’s your first substantive dive into the professional legal world. It’s a gauntlet of interviews, phone calls, scheduling, meetings and all the while trying to seem like an employable candidate that stands out from all the other great candidates in the process. 

"Then to top it all off, a pandemic hits and now 
you have to navigate this already complex world virtually."

So what changes? How do you stand out above the rest and showcase yourself in this new environment? I’ll try here to lay out a few tips that can help you be the person that ends up with an offer.

  1. Take the coffee chat online - Asking someone that works at a firm of interest to meet for a coffee is a tried and tested way of getting your foot in the door. It serves as a way to clearly demonstrate your interest, get a real sense of the people in the firm, and ask some of the more in-depth questions that you won’t find on the website. While it’s always nicer to meet with someone in person to start building that connection, our current situation isn’t allowing for that so why not apply that same principle virtually? When you can’t meet face to face, a phone call can help accomplish a lot of the same goals. Here are some tips for when you’re trying to build some rapport with the firm through a call.

    1. Choose wisely. For the uninitiated, there’s always an inclination to go right to the top of the ladder and try and reach out to the perceived decision-makers to show them why you should be their pick. Generally, these are also the busiest people who are least likely to be able to meet with you and likely have much less of a role in the student hiring process then students perceive. Instead, target the firm’s students and or recently called associates, especially people that went to your school. They will be the most likely people to respond to you, they will likely be best positioned to answer most of your questions about the firm’s student program and are usually some of the first people student recruiters ask when looking for opinions on prospective hires.

    2. Don’t bother with zoom or skype. While I could see how prospective students would love a little extra face time, the people you’re looking to contact at the firms are mostly enjoying the casual life through this pandemic, and few will likely be looking forward to donning professional attire just so you can see their smiling faces. If the person you’re looking to contact offers that opportunity then great, but this is definitely a place where a good old-fashioned phone call would be much more appropriate.

    3. If you’re not five minutes early you’re late. Always, always, always be right on time. The people you’re trying to contact are likely in the middle of one of their busiest times of the year and they’ve carved out a piece of their day specifically to help you. The least you could do is make sure you’re on time and ready for the call.

  2. Do your homework. Let’s say you’re short on time and you’re unable to connect with someone from the firm in advance of your interview. Well don’t fear, there’s still a fantastic resource out there that you should absolutely utilize: the firm website. You can learn a lot about your prospective employer from what’s readily available online and come interview time, being able to speak to the firm about specific things they do and how it interests you can do a long way to making yourself stand out from the pack. Potential practice areas and specialties, specifics of the student program and even articles and publications are all great things to look into and note to talk about should the opportunity arise in your interview.

  3. Be ready to have a good time. As someone that has gone through this process already, I get it. How can you think about fun in such a high-pressure situation? This is critical though as the most important thing this interview is about for the firms is determining who you are as a person. If you’ve made it to OCI’s they already think you’re a qualified candidate on paper, now it’s time to show them that you’re great in person too. Generally speaking, when your interviewer has an enjoyable time chatting with you then chances are they’re going to think they would have an enjoyable time working with you and that’s the recipe for getting hired. If you’re going into the process stressed and unnatural, your interviewers will absolutely pick up on that. So take the time to do whatever it is you do to relax, embrace the process and try to have a good time with it!

Follow these steps and you’ll be sure to have success with this year’s unique job search. Best of luck to you all!

Adam O.