Navigating Fall OCI: Advice from Jessica Jolivet, ’17

Jessica Jolivet, ’17, candidly shared her advice for navigating 2016 Fall OCI.

What resources did you find most helpful when researching employers? In addition to the firms’ websites, I found Chambers and Partners/ Chambers Associate, Martindale.com, NALP Directory of Legal Employers, Law360, and LinkedIn quite helpful. I knew which practice areas I was interested in, so after determining which firms had practices in those areas, I used Chambers to learn about the strength of the practice, the other sites for general information about the firms (Law360 is great for finding up-to-date news about firms) and LinkedIn to find out more about the partners/associates from those firms.

How did you decide which employers to apply to? I found the Excel spreadsheet (2016 Fall OCI List of Participating Employers) that the CSO sent showing highest, lowest, and the median GPAs of students interviewed by every employer quite helpful. Because I am a median student, I needed to be realistic about which firms I selected. I ranked the firms that had the practice areas that I wanted and that interviewed students with GPAs similar to mine toward the top of my list; strong midsize firms next; firms that did not have my practice areas of interest, but that interviewed students with similar GPAs after that; and finally reach firms. Firms that interviewed students with GPAs equal or lower than mine took 40% of my bids; 40% were firms +.3 GPA points of mine, and 20% were reach firms.

Did you tailor your application materials for each employer? If so, how? I did, particularly for the firms in which I was most interested or for which my pre-law school work experience was most applicable. If a firm had a practice area that I like, I’d mention that in my cover letter. If a firm was well recognized for representing clients in an industry I’ve worked in, I’d mention that in my cover letter as well.

What suggestions do you have on the day of interviews? Be relaxed, polite, and conversational. An interview is a conversation, first and foremost. You should ask yourself, “would I want to talk to me?” If not, do some mock interviews with the CSO; they’re offered for a reason. Remember, the interviewers will be there all day interviewing dozens of students; have a personality! Don’t be boring or uptight. The interviewers are people too; and if you can make them laugh, you’re on the right track. Also, don’t be an entitled jerk…if you knew everything, you wouldn’t currently be in law school.

If you had lottery interviews, did you have any success with them? I had three lottery interviews and I converted two into callbacks. Once you get your foot in the door, you heavily influence whether you will receive a callback or not.

How did you manage reception/dinner invitations? I was invited to three pre-OCI receptions, but I only attended one. I also bid that firm #1 because I really wanted to interview with them. It was the best decision that I could have made because I had great conversations with the attorneys I interviewed with the next day. I think that building rapport with the interviewers before my interview was instrumental in helping me score the call back that later turned into an offer. I was also invited to one dinner, and two post-interview receptions. I received callbacks from all three of these firms.

Did you send thank-you notes after each interview? I sent thank-you emails to the attorneys in the firms that I liked best.

What one piece of advice would you give to a rising 2L regarding OCI? Be prepared, but not over-prepared. Have a script for stock answers, but be prepared to deviate from the script. Throughout the process, I may have had two to three standard interviews; most were casual conversations about my resume, my interests outside of work, sports, etc. The firms know that any Texas Law student is qualified to do the actual legal work; what they are most interested in is whether THEY want to work with YOU. Lawyers want to find out if you are not only capable of doing the work, but also whether you are pleasant to work with.

What one piece of advice would you give to a rising 2L who may need to look outside of OCI to find a summer clerkship? Although I was fortunate enough to land my clerkships through OCI, my advice to students who might need to look elsewhere for summer jobs is to start targeting employers early (you might find something before OCI begins), be consistent with applying for jobs; treat your search as if it were your job. Finally, don’t let your frustration get the best of you…many people find jobs after OCI through Symplicity, mass mailings, etc. Not finding a gig right then is not the end of the world!