#The1Llife: Preparing for OCI

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
1L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Law school exams are winding down, suitcases are being packed, and all seems good within the life of a 1L.

The end of the semester is an exciting time, not only are you finished with your brutal exams and one year closer to graduation, you’re also about to begin your first summer job as a legal associate! With all that excitement on the go, it’s easy to overlook OCI; and while you certainly don’t need to stress about OCI in early May, by June it should be on your mind.

Just how should you prepare for OCI during the summer you ask? Of course, preparations will vary according to your circumstances. For instance, if you’re in your target area this summer you may want to start reaching out to firms before OCI, the same logic applies if you’re aiming for a small market. However, particularities aside, there are a few starting points for every 1L who plans to participate in OCI

Mock interviews

I really cannot stress how important mock interviews are to your success. I recently participated in an on-campus mock interview program where they brought in alumni from a variety of firms. Through this program I not only got a sense of what I needed to do to prepare for interviews (i.e. how long it takes to print resumes, order transcripts, etc.), I also got great feedback from my interviewers on what I did well, and what I could work to improve upon. If you don’t have the opportunity to do a mock interview with someone from a firm, I suggest reaching out to your career planning office to see if they offer mock interviewing in-person or over the phone, or if push comes to shove, recruit a friend or family member to serve as an interviewer.

Resume Review

One thing that came up in both of my mock interviews were tiny issues with my resume, and by tiny, I mean anything from formatting to a single missing comma. Unbeknownst to many, the majority of career planning offices offer resume review services free of charge! While they may not have a template that calls out to you, once you craft what you believe to be a perfect resume, send it off to them for the final once over.

Research, Research, RESEARCH

Emphasis on the research. Gone are the days when you could waltz into an interview and sell them on your capabilities without basically internet stalking the interviewer and their organization. Not only do OCI interviewers want to see that you’re competent and excelling in law school, they also want to see that you have an honest interest in their firm – after all, why waste their time on you if you’re not going to give them the time of day? For interviewing I’d say start with the legal basics:

Chambers and Associates: for a quick overview of the firm, covering everything from billable hours, to quotes from managing partners.

Website Browse: Make sure you know the firm’s website inside and out. Don’t just read your interviewer’s bio. Take the time to read up on the practice areas you’re interested in, take note of recent cases they’ve worked on in those areas. Furthermore, make sure you know what their summer program, and entry-level associate programs look like – you do not want to ask questions in an interview that are clearly answered on the website.

Google Search: Use the firm’s name, plus an associate or trigger word to pull news stories, recent cases, and more!

Network

Yes, attending networking events is great, but networking is more than firm sponsored happy hours. Utilize your school(s) alumni database to find alumni who work in the firms you’re targeting and reach out! Likewise, seek out 2L’s and 3L’s who have worked in those firms, or are going to those firm’s post-graduation and get the inside scoop on the firm and more specifically, the summer program.

NOTE: When you’re networking, keep track of who you talk to and what they say. You want to reference those people during your interviews, so it’s best not to leave it up to your memory alone.

Summer Job Essentials

Finally, during your summer you want to not only impress your employer so they either a) hire you back, or b) agree to serve as a reference, you also want to utilize your summer job for OCI purposes. First, you’re going to need a writing sample for OCI, so ask your employer early on if you can use one of your memo’s or briefs to satisfy this requirement. Second, keep track of the tasks you complete so you can reference them during interviews. Finally, incorporate your summer job tasks into your resume to make it more targeted to a legal audience.

5 Great Things About Studying for the Bar

Taylor Friedlander,
BARBRI Director of Legal Education

Does this headline strike you as far-fetched? After all, everyone knows that studying for the Bar Exam is a difficult experience. It’s a fact that’s tried and true, in the way the Pope is Catholic and the sky is blue. But don’t let that get you down. Yes, even though studying for the bar is a tough nut to crack, the process (and the end results) are rewarding. Below are some silver linings to keep in mind:

  1. Studying for the Bar Exam is a bonding experience with your fellow classmates
    Only your classmates will truly understand what you are going through. Yes, your family can offer support, and your friends can pepper you with pep talk, but at the end of the day, nothing compares to the empathy you get when you and your fellow J.D. students “talk the talk” of MBEs. (And the same goes to you LL.M. students!) I know it’s tempting to say that you’re doing little more than suffering together, but believe me – you’re also bonding over a unique shared experience. (Aww …)
  1. BARBRI gives you another point of connection with practicing attorneys
    It’s strange but true – attorneys like to talk about their time on the bar prep battlefield. They’ll reminisce about cracking open their huge box of BARBRI books and nerd out about how Erwin Chemerisnky schooled them on Con Law. BARBRI is a great icebreaker whenever I talk to other attorneys. Almost everyone has a unique story to share!
  1. You’ve got the I’m Studying for the Bar Card (hereinafter “ISBC”) in your back pocket
    Don’t want to go to Aunt Sally’s birthday? Never fear: you’ve got the ISBC and simply can’t sacrifice the study time. Not jazzed about helping your friend move a futon over the weekend? ISBC! Don’t feel like cat-sitting Brownie? ISBC! It’s the perfect excuse to help put your time to good use.
  1. Taking a break will feel better than it ever has
    Whatever your outlet – whether it’s going for a run, taking a dance class, grabbing happy hour with friends – it will feel better than it ever has. Bar prep is so intense that once you take the time to give yourself a much-deserved break, the joy you experience will multiply.
  1. You’re about to become a lawyer
    The Bar Exam is different from any other kind of test you’ve prepped for. All other exams have been a stepping-stone. The SAT got you into college. The LSAT got you into law school. But this – this is IT. This is the marathon to the finish line. Come hell or high water, ice or fire, passing this test earns that title, “ESQUIRE.” Yes, it is a journey, but remember –  BARBRI is there for you every step of the way to help you #OWNTHEBAR!