Navigating Fall OCI: Advice from Miguel Ortiz, ‘19

The CSO asked rising 3L, Miguel Ortiz, to share his advice on navigating the Fall OCI recruiting season. Over the summer, we will be sharing tips about the research and bidding process, including strategies for ranking employers, what to expect during OCI, and more. For now, you may find instructions on how to bid (apply) and schedule interviews, research employers, and prepare for interviews in the 2018 Fall OCI Guidelines (PDF).

What resources did you find most helpful when researching employers?
I found the NALP Directory of Legal Employers (Texas Law Student Login) to be extremely helpful. It is pretty comprehensive when it comes to information about a firm. It lists the size of their departments, which is important if you are only interested in working in a particularly area. For example, if you want to work at a firm with locations in Dallas and Houston and you’re only interested in working litigation in Dallas, be sure to look at the size of the litigation department in the Dallas office. It could be that this firm may do the majority of its litigation in Houston, which could reduce your chances of getting an offer for the Dallas location. In addition, the Directory shows you how many summers the firm brought on and how many of them ended up getting offers. I think you can find everything you need under the “Recruiting & Hiring” tab.

How did you decide which employers to apply to?
I knew that I wanted to stay in Texas, so I limited my focus to Texas firms. I tried to find out as much as I could about a firm’s culture. The Vault Career Library is a good resource for this, and if you use your school email, you have unlimited access to employee reviews of the firm.

Did you tailor your application materials for each employer? If so, how?
Not really; yet if the firm’s primary practice were construction litigation, I would note my interest in its construction litigation section—instead of just litigation, for example.

How long does it take to go through the bidding process? How much time should we plan for?
I spent about 2-2 ½ hours a day for an entire week on applications and research while I was working full-time during my summer internship.

What was your strategy in deciding how to rank employers?
GPA and number of interview slots. If my GPA were on the higher end of the firm’s desired range, I would then look to see how many interview slots they had. If they had many slots available, they would be lower on the list and vice versa. Regardless, I still sometimes ranked a firm high on my list if they (kind of like applying to a reach school) impressed me.  In addition, I ranked them by location.

What did you do if you didn’t get on an interview schedule for an employer you are interested in?
For me, I just moved on and focused on the interviews I did get. However, sometimes slot times open up for whatever reason and I’ve heard that confident students can hustle an interview with a firm by chatting up the recruiter.

What suggestions do you have on the day of interviews?
Dress well, smile big, be confident, talk to everyone, and be mindful of your surroundings – you never who is standing behind you in line at Starbucks.

If you had lottery interviews, did you have any success with them?
I did. I think the best thing you can do is approach a lottery interview the same way you would any other interview: conduct your research and make a good impression. Remember that getting a lottery pick doesn’t necessarily mean the firm is not interested in you. They only have a limited number of interview slots they get to choose.

Did you send thank-you notes after each interview? If so what format and to whom?
I did. I sent emails to every person that interviewed me and tried to include some topic of our discussion in the email. Example: “I really enjoyed learning about the success of your summer associate program.”

What was the average wait time to hear back from employers after the first interview?
It varied. Sometimes I received a call the next day or sometimes a week later. I think it is going to depend on the size of the firm and how many interviews they conducted (and not just at Texas Law).

What one piece of advice would you give to a rising 2L regarding OCI?
Grades aren’t everything. Firms are also looking for good people they would want working with them. They also want someone who’s reliable and can handle the work. If you have previous work experience, I would highlight that.