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Career Center: Assessing the OCI Interview Process

With OCI coming to an end at most law schools, now is the time to sit back and assess the interview process. While you may be tempted to tune out until you receive an offer (or rejection), don’t.

In addition to reviewing your performance in the interview, you should critique the performance of the law firm.

Furthermore, be sure to consider the following tips from Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball before you accept an offer….

Debrief and Record Impressions

The interview dance is complex and exhausting. You will meet scores of lawyers, ask countless questions, and feel as if you have been put through a mill. Like the moment you awaken from a dream, the impressions are fresh and sharp as you leave a firm. Two days later, the nuances fade and it is often difficult for students to sort out the differences among firms. When you leave a firm, take 30 minutes to reflect on the day and pose the following questions:

  • What were my specific and general impressions of the key features of the firm?
  • What open items exist — were the answers to my questions complete and consistent?
  • Do I know what I need to know to make a decision? Did I see enough lawyers “like me” (gender, age, practice interest, etc.) to have a feel for how it will work for me?
  • Do I understand the nitty gritty about assignments, compensation, promotion, structure, organization, and all the rest?
  • Is what I saw internally consistent with what I read in brochures and heard from the on-campus interviewer? If not, why not?
  • How did lawyers relate to each other? Cordial? Distant? Did the lawyers really know one another? How did they treat support staff? Is it a real open door environment? Did you see a level of warmth and collegiality consistent with your temperament and aspirations? Along the continuum of Animal House to the Sistine Chapel, there are many environments – each of us finds a small range to be consistent with our interests and behavior.
  • Do I really know the answers to the tough questions I wanted to ask about problems the firm may have (e.g., decreasing size, lack of growth, compensation, partner or associate terminations, etc.)?
  • Are my gut impressions (a touch of Giverny and Monet) consistent with my impressions before the on campus interview? If not, why?
  • Do I feel as if I have learned about a career, or have I been sold a car after a dizzying parade of people tossed adjectives and generalizations at me?

Record your notes in any way that works for you. My preference would be a long outline that you keep on your laptop. Handwritten notes have a way of getting lost, left in hotel rooms, or otherwise left behind.

Thank You Notes

Somewhere Emily Post is smiling about lawyers’ penchant for papering firms with thank you notes. Try to put it in perspective. A short personal note to the on-campus interviewer and the recruiting coordinator thanking them for their time (and for any special arrangements) is always a nice touch. I don’t know if it has ever turned a decision, but there’s no question that it is the polite thing to do. It is not necessary to write individual notes to all seven lawyers with whom you interview. Just make sure you address names correctly and double check your notes for spelling.

Be sure to click here to check out additional tips on what to do before you hear back from law firms, as well as how to evaluate your offers and rejections. For additional career advice and other articles covering the OCI process, go to the Career Center.

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