What is “Precruiting” and Should I Do It?
“Precruiting” or pre-OCI recruiting, refers to the practice of law firms recruiting students for summer positions prior to the school’s official fall on-campus interview program, in our case August OCI. This practice could include accepting applications only, conducting preliminary interviews, or even managing multiple rounds of interviews and making offers for summer employment. Some firms choose to precruit and may even fill several spots in their summer associate class this way. Others do only a little or none at all, focusing instead on their ongoing summer programs and concentrating their recruiting efforts on August OCI.
Although precruiting may not make sense for every student, Texas Law does not prohibit students or employers from participating in precruiting. Each student has a unique set of circumstances, so be sure to schedule a time to meet with your career counselor to discuss how you should approach your job search over the summer. Below we have provided some background information about precruiting.
Why participate in precruiting?
The short answer is that precruiting is a potential opportunity. Some firms approach summer as a time to find and hire interested, qualified candidates before other firms do. It can be good for students because applying early might put you in consideration for your top-choice firms at the very beginning of their recruiting process, demonstrate your enthusiastic interest in a firm for later recruiting, or could potentially result in an early end to the 2L summer job search. In addition, students who have already interviewed with firms attending August OCI generally do not repeat those interviews during OCI, which frees up time in their OCI schedules for other interviews.
Precruiting is especially important if you’re looking for positions with firms in markets with limited representation through August OCI, or at firms that have chosen not to participate in August OCI at Texas Law. (Remember, one source for identifying these firms is the spreadsheet of Current and Former NALP-Member Law Firms Not Participating in August OCI 2021). In these situations, you will be applying directly to firms through their websites and applying early – before the firms attend OCI at law schools in their local markets.
Why forego precruiting?
For students who are focused on finding a position at firms attending August OCI or in a market that will be well represented, there are some potential disadvantages to participating in precruiting.
First, the outreach and follow-up that may be required to take advantage of precruiting opportunities can be time-consuming. Preparing for and attending lengthy interviews takes time you may not have while you are trying to succeed in your current internship. It is important to balance producing high-quality work this summer against the time required to apply to and interview for positions for next summer. Submitting an application during precruiting that is rushed or not your best work is unlikely to result in pre-OCI interviews. Similarly, interviewing with a firm when you are not fully prepared and receiving a rejection, likely ends your opportunity with that firm. Once you have interviewed with a firm for a 2L summer position, you should not interview with that firm again through the August OCI process for the same position.
Next, the timing of precruiting may lead to unwanted pressure on you to make decisions early. For some firms, precruiting activities begin early in the summer, before students have had much time to investigate future employers. Students may therefore spend time on applications they would not have submitted if they had more time to research. Additionally, students may receive offers from firms prior to OCI and feel pressure to accept or decline them quickly, despite the Texas Law policy for employers on the timing of those offers (keep reading for more information on this process).
How does precruiting work?
Some firms advertise opportunities for precruiting on their websites or on the Job Bank on Symplicity, encouraging students to apply as early as the beginning of the summer. An open application portal on the firm’s website does not guarantee that the firm will be interviewing candidates over the summer. Some firms use this method to collect early applications, but prefer to conduct interviews closer to the time of August OCI. There isn’t a uniform policy among firms for how they hire students outside of August OCI, and not all students will receive interviews through precruiting.
Other opportunities may come from students’ prior contacts with a firm. Students who applied to or interviewed with a firm during 1L recruiting may find that firm is interested in interviewing them again prior to August OCI. Those opportunities could come from a firm reaching out but are more often the result of students reestablishing contact with the firm during their first summer.
Finally, opportunities could come up during networking conversations with attorneys over the summer. We encourage students to attend firm events if they’re offered and to conduct informational interviews with attorneys to learn about firms, markets, and practice areas. These types of networking opportunities can help you determine which firms fit best with your interests and goals and can provide you with information that will help you answer important questions during the interview process including, “Why are you interested in our firm?” and “What areas do you want to practice in?” Before or during those conversations, there may be a time for you to express interest in the firm and learn about its recruiting process. Regardless of whether the firm is interviewing during August OCI, these conversations could lead to information on how to submit an early application.
If you apply to a firm prior to August OCI, but do not have an interview over the summer, you should still bid for (apply to) that firm through the August OCI process if you are still interested and they are interviewing during August OCI. However, if you applied and interviewed with a firm during precruiting, you should not interview with that firm during August OCI unless they explicitly ask you to do so.
If you receive an offer of employment from a firm before the start of August OCI on August 3, 2021, Texas Law’s Recruiting Policies for Private-Sector Employers asks that employers keep those offers open until 14 days after the start of August OCI. For this year, that means that we requested that employers keep pre-OCI offers open until August 17, 2021. Some large firms may tell you that they would like your decision earlier than what is requested by our policy in hopes that you will finalize your commitment to their firm before you receive offers from other employers.
If you have questions or want to discuss your specific job search or situation further, please reach out to a CSO career counselor.