Precruiting Basics 

(Updated May 10, 2023) “Precruiting” or pre-OCI recruiting, refers to the practice of law firms recruiting students for summer positions prior to the school’s official on-campus interview program, in our case Summer Interview Program (“SIP”). 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 may fill several spots in their summer associate class this way. Others do little to no precruiting, focusing instead on their ongoing summer programs and concentrating their recruiting efforts on school programs like SIP.   

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. Many firms may look at early 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 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 generally do not repeat those interviews during SIP or other interview programs, which frees up time in their interview schedules for other interviews 

Precruiting is especially important if you’re looking for positions with firms in markets with limited representation through SIP, or at firms that have chosen not to participate in SIP at Texas Law. (Remember, one source for identifying these firms is the Excel List of NALP Firms Not Participating in August OCI 2022 – link will be updated for 2023 in the coming weeks) In these situations, you will be applying directly to firms through their websites and applying early – before the firms attend SIP here or OCI at law schools in their local markets.   

How does precruiting work? 
Some firms advertise opportunities for precruiting on their websites, on the Job Bank on Symplicity, or by direct email outreach, encouraging students to apply as early as the beginning of the summer. An open application portal on the firm’s website or solicitation of an application by other means 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 SIP.  There isn’t a uniform policy among firms, or even always among offices in the same firm, relating to hiring students outside of SIP, and not all students who apply will receive interviews through precruiting. Nonetheless, it’s important for students to use all avenues for applying to employers, and, in many cases, that means students may apply directly through posted firm jobs as well as through the Summer Interview Program. 

Other early application avenues
Another avenue may be through 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 SIP. 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 SIP, these conversations could lead to information on how to submit an early application.   

Precruiting, SIP bidding, and offers
If you apply to a firm prior to SIP, but do not have an interview with any of its offices over the summer, you should still bid for (apply to) that firm through the SIP process if you are still interested. However, if youapplied and interviewed with a firm office during precruiting, you should not interview with that firm office during SIP unless they explicitly ask you to do so.  

If you receive an offer of employment from a firm before the start of SIP on July 31, 2023, Texas Law’s Recruiting Policies for Private-Sector Employers asks that employers keep those offers open until 14 days after the start of SIP. Some large firms may tell you that they would like your decision earlier than the date in in hopes that you will commit to their firm before you receive offers from other employers. The CSO career counselors are available to help you manage any offers you receive over the summer. 

What potential challenges does precruiting present for students?  

Although every student’s job search strategy is different, we strongly recommend that most students seeking a position at a large law firm for their 2L summer seriously consider early applications and precruiting as part of the application process. There are, however, some potential challenges for students taking part 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; moreover, scheduling those interviews, including getting time off, may be logistically challenging while you are trying to succeed in your current internship. It is important to balance producing high-quality work and dedication to your job 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-SIP 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 office for a 2L summer position, you should not interview with that office again through the SIP process for the same position.   

Second, because precruiting activities may begin very early in the summer, you may not 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. 

Regardless of its potential challenges, precruiting is acknowledged as a growing part of the summer associate recruitment process for law firms.  We encourage you to reach out to a CSO career counselor to discuss how precruiting may fit with your overall job search strategy and your particular goals.