This weekend brings the annual mock interview program for 1Ls here at Louisville Law. This relatively recent tradition is an excellent opportunity to get your feet wet in the summer clerkship game, and it will be closely followed by the infamous On Campus Interview season, or OCI. I wrote about OCI last year in this post, and in my opinion most of those comments still hold up.
OCI is a big deal at some law schools, but here at Louisville the number of available jobs is quite small, and the chances of getting one are brutally long. Many will enter, few will win. In fact, in my graduating class, I am aware of only a small number of students (maybe ten) who have landed full-time permanent jobs at large law firms through OCI. The fact is, large law firms have been shrinking in recent years, and there aren't that many in Louisville to begin with. This is not to say, of course, that these jobs don't have merit, or that it is not worth pursuing a Big Law job, especially if your first-semester GPA was, say, 3.3 or better. The paucity of OCI positions also doesn't mean you won't find a job at all. There are scores of area jobs available through smaller firms, non-profit groups and fellowship programs, and the nice thing about some of these positions is that you are in control of the process because you choose where you put your networking energy, i.e., plaintiff work, family law, public service, etc.
Even if you don't participate in OCI, it's a good idea to start thinking about the summer if you are a 1L. You might call a few lawyers (even ones you don't know!) and ask for a job shadow, like this one or this one that I did during my first-year winter break. You might also think about knocking out some of those volunteer hours for graduation, which will put you in contact with practicing attorneys. You also should visit the fine folks in Career Services, study these job interview etiquette tips, and think about professors who could serve as references (tip: if you contact a professor for a reference, make sure to clearly identify yourself, send a copy of your resume, and give them plenty of time to respond; requesting a reference in person usually works best; do NOT ask them to fill out forms for you). The bottom line, as my tax professor might say, is that there are many options, and OCI is just one of them. The job market overall is tight, but there are lots of available options, and many of them are just a few miles from the law school. You also must learn to have nerves of steel when it comes to job interviews. My overall record with OCI in my first two years of law school was 1-16, as in sixteen interviews, and fifteen rejections. But that one offer resulted in a great clerkship, which eventually turned into a full-time job offer that I happily accepted. The end justifies the means. If you have a job question or comment, post it in the comments field below, or email me at email@example.com.