|The Aegon Center, Kentucky's tallest building and|
the location of Saturday's mock-interview program
Question: My first-semester grades were not that great and I don't have much work experience. Why should I spend time submitting my resume and grades to a bunch of fancy law firms that only want top students?
Answer: Experience. Job interviews are like riding a bike. The first trip may not be pretty, but the more you do it the better you will perform. You also need to have a strong resume regardless of where you want to work this summer. You might as well start now.
Q: What are my chances of snagging a job through OCI?
A: At some law schools, OCI is a huge deal. Especially if the school is highly ranked and located in a smaller town (Cornell, Indiana, Washington & Lee, etc.) this is the main way to get hired. U of L, for a variety of reasons, is different. Put simply, your chances are not good. Unless jobs start raining from the sky, no more than a dozen students from the 1L class will find jobs through OCI, and possibly as few as eight or ten. I sincerely hope I am wrong.
Q: So am I screwed for a summer job?
A: Absolutely not. Louisville offers an awesome job market to law students, and the home-field advantage for U of L Law is huge. I honestly believe that every single U of L law student could find a paying summer job in the local market if they put in the necessary effort in networking, phone calls, research, etc. Volunteer jobs and fellowships also can provide great experience.
Q: But students who find jobs on their own will be paid less, right?
A: Wrong. The top five or so largest firms pay big bucks for the summer, at least by Louisville standards. Expect to earn at least $35 an hour, with lots of field trips, free parking, and other perks. The rest of the OCI pack is a different game, and you won't find out the numbers until you have an offer in hand. The basic deal: expect a range starting at $10 an hour up to perhaps $18 an hour, which is pretty much the same money that you would receive from any other small firm that you find on your own.
Q: What do OCI employers want?
A: Take this one with another big grain of salt, but in my experience there is really only one factor involved: grades. If you are a 1L and notched a GPA of 3.5 or higher in your first semester, you are in very good shape for the spring. I do know students who were north of that range and did not receive job offers, but in most cases this level should lead to a job. If you were at 3.3 or above, you are in OK shape, but probably will be working for a small or medium-sized firm. And if you are among the vast majority of students who are below that point, treat OCI as a learning experience.
Q: But what if I won a Nobel Prize, saved a bus full of small children from a raging fire, and my uncle is a partner at the firm where I'm interviewing?
A: The first two won't help. Uncle might.
Q: What happens if I get a "call back?"
A: Congratulations! Your chances of receiving an offer after a second interview, or call back, are dramatically better. Out of the sixteen OCI interviews that I did during the spring and fall of last year, I received two call backs. One resulted in an offer, and I'm working for that firm now. I clerked for a different firm during my first summer -- one that I found on my own. That experience was fantastic, and so far the OCI firm has been just as good.
Q: So what's the bottom line, blogger guy?
A: OCI is a great experience, but don't be disappointed if it doesn't result in a job. There are many fish in the sea here in Louisville. They aren't hard to catch, but you will probably have to do it yourself.